No ‘big brother’ politics in Pakatan, bloc secretary insists

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid
Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah speaks at the Pakatan Harapan Convention in Kuala Lumpur April 23, 2017. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 ― All parties are equal in Pakatan Harapan and the bloc has no place for "big brother" politics like that of their rivals Barisan Nasional, its secretary Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah said today.

Addressing the pact's Federal Territories convention here, the PKR leader said Parakan Harapan wants to show voters that there is an alternative to the political system practiced by the ruling coalition, which is dominated by Umno and race politics.

"What we want is a new political system," he said in his opening speech.

"In PH there is no dominant party; that is the BN model. We are all equal partners whereas the BN model is purportedly about power-sharing, yet each solves problems according to the different races.

"In PH we all help one another," he added.

Saifuddin's assertion was timely. Since the pact started to work closely with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, allegations spread that its newest member, PPBM, a party formed by the former prime minister, is now the leading party.

BN have also played up the issue by claiming that Dr Mahathir had replaced Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as the PH's new prime minister candidate.

The allegations have caused quite a stir within PH but its leaders have played down the issue and dismissed it as mere rhetoric aimed at driving a wedge between them.

Saifuddin said the disagreement between the component parties in PH may give the impression that the coalition was divided.

But the former Umno leader, who defected to PKR two years ago, said differences in opinions should be celebrated as part of genuine democratic practice.

“Of course how we do things is different from BN,” he said. “But it does not mean that all is not well if we disagree.”

Saifuddin added that PH is also providing voters an alternative to what he described as BN’s right wing politics.

He said while PH would do away with communal politics, this does not mean the party would forsake the special position of the Malays.

“We want to uphold the Federal Constitution,” he said. “I think we have made this very clear in our manifesto. We will respect Article 153”.

The Article states that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong is responsible for safeguarding the special position of the Bumiputera community, including the natives of Sabah and Sarawak.

But the Constitution also ensures safeguards for the legitimate interests of other communities.

Saifuddin said a PH government would guarantee good governance and many of its policies would focus on helping the needy, regardless of race.