PETALING JAYA, April 2 — Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Pribumi) failed its first test in adapting to the Opposition Pakatan Harapan when the name it proposed for the pact, Barisan Rakyat or People’s Front, was rejected.
The pact’s leadership council on Monday decided to put a name to be registered but not the one suggested by Pribumi. which indirectly indicated the dominant party in the pact, DAP, has yet to accept it as a “comrade in arms”.
The first test for Pribumi to make its presence felt has failed with its first suggestion thrown out and instead will be replaced by another which the parties in the pact — DAP, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) — have yet to decide on.
Pribumi intended to take the lead in the pact to get rid of its image as a Chinese-led opposition with the party chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad a prominent figure to attract multi-racial voters particularly the Malay voters.
DAP is synonymous with Chinese and Malay voters, even those who reject Umno will not vote for a Chinese-based party more so an opposition led by DAP.
Dr Mahathir has the mind of a strategist who thinks the Malays who reject Umno may vote for an opposition led by a Malay and Malay-based party which is similar to Umno and Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.
But his party has failed to get DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng to agree to a name change to Barisan Rakyat which gives the impression that Pribumi will have a difficult time trying to fit into the pact’s “culture”.
The pact’s culture — dominated by Lim and the DAP over other parties — is why the Malays won’t support the pact, and why PAS has refused to collaborate with it.
Even in PKR, the deputy president who is also Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin Ali, seems to prefer a rather official relationship with Lim instead of a camaraderie relationship given both the parties have the same goal.
Dr Mahathir and Pribumi president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin have now realised the “real politics” where they no longer hold sway over others, unlike when they were in Umno where component parties could voice objections and the consensus normally followed the leader.
Pribumi has also failed to get PAS to work with the party despite several meetings and unofficial talks between the leaders of both parties because Dr Mahahtir thought PAS has the same goal and would come together.
He has been proven wrong with PAS and now with the Opposition pact, he has a problem with DAP and in particular Lim, as he and Lim have similar authoritative and dominant traits.
Lim is trying to protect his territory and Dr Mahathir’s sudden appearance has somewhat threatened his dominant role in the pact.
Lim had full control over Amanah but with the entry of Pribumi, Lim has a big problem — his control will not be total with leaders like Dr Mahathir and Muhyiddin, who have their own strength and mind, in the fold.
For Lim, who still has a hold on leaders of Amanah and PKR, Pribumi is just another “party that can be tamed over time”.
But for Dr Mahathir and Muhyiddin, the new experience can be considered a cultural shock as they never had expected to be “treated like people who should listen and take orders instead of proposing and discussing like matured men.”
They now feel and experience what it is like to be seated on the other side of the political divide instead of entering the Opposition with dignity and pride.
Pribumi has failed to tame Lim in the first round and the party may face more failure in the rounds to come.