Grassroots Want PH to Wrest Back Putrajaya Before GE15

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PH and its allies, Warisan and a faction of Bersatu, have stated that they’re working to wrest back Putrajaya from PN.

Seth Akmal/TMI

Syed Harun and Abdul Razak Salleh have a personal stake in how fast Pakatan Harapan can reclaim federal power.

Syed Harun, an elderly bachelor with several illnesses, said the new Perikatan Nasional government cut his welfare aid.

Razak, meanwhile, said government funds for his programmes to help the poor in Padang Serai were frozen after the fall of the PH federal and Kedah governments.

The two were among 10 PH grassroots members weighing in on the future of the coalition some three months after it was ousted in late February.

The coalition and its allies, Warisan and a faction of ruling party Bersatu, have stated that they’re working to wrest back Putrajaya from PN.

This is after the PN government doled out plum posts to Umno and PAS lawmakers in government-linked companies to buy their support.

PH intends to get 22 MPs currently backing PN to switch sides.

Yet the wisdom of the plan has been questioned by political observers who said it would make PH appear to be selfish and jostling for power at a time when the nation is hurting from the impact of Covid-19.

Rather than a reverse coup, they said PH would do better to fix its internal schisms and rebuild the machinery damaged by PN’s betrayal so as to come back stronger in the next elections.

MPs who back PN would demand from PH high salaries or government positions in exchange for their support, thus forcing the coalition to compromise its principles, they said.

Instead of trying to win over these MP, it would be more efficient to get a clear electoral mandate in the polls.

Razak, who heads Amanah’s Padang Serai division, said the coalition has to do both.

“We have to prepare for a general election that can happen in either the next two months or the next two years. This is because the PN government is not stable and could collapse at any time,” he said.

Amanah, DAP and PKR are the three parties in PH after Bersatu left the coalition in late February to form PN together with Umno, PAS and a handful of Sarawak and Sabah parties.

“But we also need to reclaim the federal government to stop the wastage that is currently happening. The people in the government now are there to work only for themselves and not for the public.”

Syed Harun, who is a member of the pro-PKR Otai Reformasi movement, said PN reduced aid for elderly, low-income bachelors like him.

“Under PH, bachelors who were senior citizens were grouped together with B40 families and we would receive the same amount of aid as a B40 household. But under PN, we are categorised as bachelors and we receive less aid.”

Terengganu PKR member Abdul Rahman Yusof said PH must attempt to seize back power or it would send the wrong message to voters.

“If a robber comes into our house and steals, we have the right to chase him out. We have to exercise that right and reclaim the mandate that the people gave us and not squander it,” said Rahman, a former parliamentary candidate.

Stopping PN to put an end to patronage politics is the most-cited reason among the PH grassroots for the coalition to reclaim its mandate.

“We have to take back power immediately. The people who voters rejected in GE14 are now back in office and those charged with corruption are getting away,” said Francis Sebastian, a former election candidate who founded the Ipoh Barat PKR division.

Chua Chin Hooi of Kelantan PH did not think making the attempt would make the coalition look power hungry.

“It is not wrong for us to take back what has been stolen because PN bought the MPs. We have to work on GE15 but in the meantime, we should attempt to regain power,” said the Kota Baru DAP chief.

Good undone

Mustapa Mansor and Ahmad Tarmizi Ismail said victory in the next general election depended on whether PH worked hard at taking back Putrajaya.

“From the people’s perspective, they gave their votes to candidates contesting under the PH banner because they wanted to see PH in government,” said Mustapa, who is Otai Reformasi deputy chief.

“But now politicians who were rejected are in power so voters are looking to us to do something immediately to rectify this, otherwise we would be seen as failing their trust.”

Tarmizi, who is Temerloh Amanah division chief, said that if allowed to rule for three more years, PN would undo all the good that PH had done, including making reforms, in its 22 months in power.

Given the short memory of Malaysians, PH would struggle to remind voters of its track record in the next election campaign, said Tarmizi.

“PH spent its nearly two years in power repairing the damage that BN did to the country’s institutions, reviewing costly projects and plugging leakages.”

The money that PH had saved through reforms would have been used to shore up the economy, sadly, the coalition was betrayed, he said.

“If we don’t try to reclaim power, voters won’t be able to see the good that we achieved in the past two years. If it means having to accept those who betrayed us, I am willing to do that.” – TMI