Following March 8th 2008, many party warlords within the Pakatan Rakyat began clamouring for positions within state and local municipals. Some for noble purposes. Many began asking the party leadership for “returns” after years of laboring; losing jobs and businesses as a result of supporting the Reformasi movement. It is no doubt that party loyals have sacrificed much having been in the opposition. There was a cost to supporting the Reformasi movement and during the Mahathir era, there was a bitter vindictiveness to anyone associated with Anwar Ibrahim.
VP Syed Husin in his closing speech at the PKR General Assembly spoke clearly against this notion of “payback”. The payback is that we now can do business in a level playing field where hopefully there is a more equitable judge of our efficiency and capabilities to deliver what is promised. Cronyism and graft in whatever form is wrong.
If we begin to do the “favours” for businesses and issue the contracts based on contacts and not merit at state and local municipal levels we fall into the same trap Barisan Nasional fell into. It becomes an unhealthy relationship between businesses and politicians. There is no stopping this vicious cycle. It is what has led to the illness of the Barisan Nasional and its eventual death.
There are lessons to be learnt in history. UMNO and the Barisan Nasional began to love the party more than King and Country. The end was party survival and the means was King and Country. Whoever could feed its perpetual grip on power was helped and that meant many businessmen were enriched. Many times to the loss of the rakyat for the sake of crony capitalism. Public funds were used to finance political gains and inevitably enriched both politicans and businessmen aligned to the ruling elite. As the greed increased, the size of the contracts increased.
Love is a funny thing. If you give it away you never know what comes back. If those in authority be it at Federal, state or local municipals serve the people uprightly and justly and hold fast to the principals of integrity; it will be inevitable that the rakyat will return the party to power. PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim coined the phrase “Kepedulian Rakyat” (Concern for the rakyat) before the last General elections as a basis for the party moving forward. It reaped a great reward.
I hope that the love for the party would not become a stumbling block for the party. We will always love King and Country more as the political party is only the means to the end; not the end in itself.