NEXT PR CONVENTION TO BE HELD IN PUTRAJAYA

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid and Adib Zalkapli

SHAH ALAM, Dec 19 – Datuk Zaid Ibrahim took the floor at the end Pakatan Rakyat’s first ever convention this evening and fired up the party faithful by declaring the pact ready to kick Barisan Nasional (BN) out and wrest federal power.

“The rakyat are tired of racial politics, they are tired of being fooled..I assure you, after this, we will hold our next convention in Putrajaya,” he said, sparking thunderous applause from the crowd who attended today’s convention.

Zaid, the former de facto Umno Law Minister, said today’s convention was testament to PR’s will to put aside their almost irreconcilable differences to serve the voters by replacing what he called a corrupt BN government.

“We were told that we cannot stay together, the supreme leader of Umno, (former premier) Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said if we are allowed to govern, everything will be destroyed.

“Of course everything will be destroyed, everything about Umno will be destroyed,” he said.

Zaid had engineered the work on PR’s common policies which was tabled and endorsed at today’s convention.

“We must now look at unity differently. We must cooperate better. If PKR is weak in Kelantan then PAS must help them to be stronger. If PAS is weak in Perak then DAP and PKR must help them be stronger,” he said.

The common platform tabled today is meant to cement a stronger bond between the three PR parties and allow it to go to voters as a single political force.

But it has been tainted by criticism that it was watered down following allegations that PAS and some leaders from PKR had backtracked on their promise to restore the local council elections.

This disappointment was expressed by several DAP top leaders during the course of the convention.

Later at a press conference, Zaid gave a cryptic reply when asked if the common platform that he worked on had been watered down.

“I think the right term is, my draft was longer,” he said.

“But, overall, I agree with the common platform. It’s just that on the common platform issue, there was no rejection but we just have to find a mechanism that would not jeopardise the system itself,” he said.

Pakatan policy in place, next stop Putrajaya

The fledgling Pakatan Rakyat coalition today recorded its latest milestone with the unveiling of a tripartite common platform at its first national convention today.

The 1,500 delegates at convention heaped praises on the joint agreement, officially called the Common Policy Framework (CPF).

It was a moment of triumph for Anwar Ibrahim, who just last year cobbled together a coalition of opposition parties with diverging ideologies.

pakatan convention 191209 anwar talkRaising a copy of the 23-page common policy document during his winding-up speech at the convention, Anwar said Pakatan’s common policies put in place matters where rivals Umno dare not thread.

These includes promises of disbanding the New Economic Policy, the protection of mother-tongue languages as well as social justice and equality for all Malaysians.

He said critics can no longer claim that Pakatan was a coalition with no clear policies. According to Anwar, the CPF is something that rival Umno and Barisan Nasional would not be able to emulate.

“The difference between us and Umno is that they see things from a racial lens, while we see things from the viewpoint of justice and fairness,” said Anwar, during his convention closing speech at the Shah Alam City Council auditorium.

‘We are already in Kajang!’

The document is timely as it comes in the wake of many intra-party skirmishes and defections, which had raised questions over the long-term viability of the fledgling coalition.

pakatan convention 191209 sign documentAs the convention came to a close, the delegates approved the document with a unanimous show of hands which was later signed by top leaders from the three component parties – PKR’s Anwar, DAP’s Lim Kit Siang and PAS’s Abdul Hadi Awang.

Of the 15 delegates who spoke – five from each party – many were convinced that the common policy provides the necessary roadmap to taking over the federal government.

“We are already in Kajang,” declared PAS vice-president Salahuddyin Ayub, albeit jokingly to the delegates, in reference to the town which borders the federal administrative capital of Putrajaya.

pakatan convention 191209 raise handsThe person credited as the chief architect of the common policy document, PKR’s Zaid Ibrahim was in no doubt that Putrajaya was indeed within reach.

“The new era is our era – the era of Pakatan Rakyat,” said Zaid, who was a staunch reformist when he was a cabinet minister.

However, he warns that the coalition’s downfall would only come from within and thus urged member parties to forge better ties and understanding.

Sodomy charge must be defeated

The unprecedented level of cooperation shown by Pakatan drew accolades from PAS spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat in his winding-up speech.

pakatan convention 191209 anwar nik aziz“I look around me today and I feel like I am in a new world. This is the way that is in line with my faith,” said Nik Aziz, who is in his 19th year as Kelantan menteri besar.

For DAP chairperson Karpal Singh, one of the biggest obstacles that Pakatan will face in the near future is Anwar’s second sodomy trial set for Jan 25 until Feb 25 next year.

He said DAP regards Anwar as the de facto leader of Pakatan and credited him for the coalition’s formation.

Thus, he said the coalition must ensure that Anwar would not face conviction and jail at all cost.

“I will do whatever I can within my power to ensure that he defeats the charge,” said the wheelchair-bound Karpal, a veteran lawyer who is on Anwar’s defence team.

“I have no doubt in my mind that every trick in the book would be used to prosecute him. Let it be known to the prosecution that we are ready to take them on,” he said, prompting loud cheers of reformasi.

CPF a work in progress

As the curtains were drawn this evening, there appeared to be broad consensus among the delegates on the joint platform.

The star-studded line-up of speakers today resembled more of ceramah marathon rather than an actual debate.

pakatan convention 191209 karpal with nik azizClearly, Zaid has done tremendous work over the past few months in getting accord from the leaders of the various Pakatan component parties to nail together a common platform.

But the CPF is still a work in progress.

“To suggest that this (document) is a perfect piece is an overstatement,” Anwar told reporters after the event.

For now, Pakatan still has some time to iron out whatever kinks in its common policy before the opposition coalition faces its first major test in the Sarawak state election expected next year or 2011.

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