Guan Eng: Logo fiasco cost Harapan dearly in Johor

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Pakatan Harapan had trouble presenting a united front during the Johor election, conceded DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng.

In an interview with Malaysiakini, Lim said the first obstacle was the fact that while DAP and Amanah had stuck to the coalition’s common logo, PKR chose to use its own.

“I always stress this, you can win elections if you fight as a coalition,” Lim said, noting that the country has always been ruled by coalitions – be it through BN, Perikatan Nasional (PN) or Harapan.

“When we go (into an election) as a coalition, it’s not just DAP alone. It’s also Amanah and PKR.

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“If you don’t use a common logo, what message does it tell the voters? I think that message is distracting and you cannot keep hoping that we are serious and committed to forming the next government.

“They (voters) want to see us united as a team,” he added.

Harapan’s logo woes are not new. During the Sarawak election, all three parties used their respective flags and the coalition came in third, winning just two out of 82 seats.

Accept both the good and bad

PKR organising secretary Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad explained in January that his party decided to use its own flag for the Johor polls because the Harapan logo was deemed to carry too much “baggage”.

Nik Nazmi said that the Harapan administration was noted for its many shortcomings and also the Sheraton Move which resulted in a change of government in 2020. His views were often echoed by other PKR leaders.

For Lim, Harapan has to accept that it had shortcomings during its administration but disavowing the coalition altogether would mean forgetting about the coalition’s successes.

“You must take both the good and the bad.

“(PKR) was also part of that government. By using your own logo, you will not be able to avoid being associated with the Harapan administration.

“Who was the deputy prime minister then? Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail from PKR. When she was deputy prime minister, she implemented a lot of good policies for women,” he said.

It is not just PKR that is against the Harapan logo. DAP national organising secretary Anthony Loke and Bilut assemblyperson Lee Chin Chen had publicly suggested using DAP’s own flag in elections as well.

Lim said he welcomed different opinions on the matter and acknowledged that DAP may benefit in some instances if it used its own logo.

However, the Bagan MP stressed that using a common logo was necessary for appealing beyond the party’s traditional base.

“The question is, which logo? Here we say, it should be the Harapan logo because we registered as a coalition.

“If you represent Harapan, why are you not using the Harapan logo?” he asked.

Fix Harapan’s weaknesses

Lim said Harapan must resolve all its weaknesses, including the impression that they are not united, in order to win the next general election.

He pointed out that the coalition must let voters know that their concerns have been heard and corrective measures will be taken.

“We have to face up (to our weaknesses). We can’t go around pinning the blame on BN, turnout rate or Covid-19,” he added.

DAP, he said, has managed to do so and suffered limited losses during the Johor election. However, the coalition as a whole needs to address its weaknesses.

Lack of shadow cabinet

On Harapan’s decision not to form a shadow cabinet, Lim said he was personally in favour of the system but the majority in the coalition leadership – including opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim – were not.

Lim said Harapan MPs operated on a committee system, in which nine groups of lawmakers are assigned to check on various government ministries.

“Personally, I would agree that we should at least try to have a shadow cabinet but we’ve got to listen to the views of the majority and the opposition leader if they feel that (the) committee system works better,” he added. – Malaysiakini