THE failure of the Pakatan Rakyat to save Kampung Buah Pala after making numerous promises, including those by Pakatan supremo Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, is a major blemish on the Pakatan Rakyat in general and the DAP in particular.

The DAP, a former opposition party, has seldom lost debates with its political opponents, having perfected the art of challenging opponents, side tracking or clouding issues and using the media to browbeat challengers.

But now that the DAP is a ruling party, at least in Penang and three other Pakatan states, the fact that such tactics are still being employed indicates that the DAP’s mind is still in the “opposing” and not ruling mode.

The election ended on March 8, 2008 and soon thereafter, Pakatan was sworn in as the ruling coalition in five states. But nearly two years into the new game, some Pakatan leaders have problems adjusting to the new realities.

No doubt they were unexpectedly and suddenly elected and did not have the hands-on experience to handle complex issues. Nevertheless, they were expected to show a steep learning curve.

Pakatan leaders did well especially in Perak, until the state’s fall to Barisan, showing exemplary unity of purpose and dedication. However, elsewhere, it has had trouble getting its act together.

The Kampung Buah Pala incident, if intelligently handled, could have been a great success story for Pakatan, especially the DAP, but that opportunity is now lost and coalition is fighting charges of incompetence.

The DAP, in particular, the least experienced of the three Pakatan allies in ruling, is trying to extricate itself from the Kampung Buah Pala blunder by blaming the Barisan, especially Gerakan.

Gerakan was once admired for turning the state into a centrepiece of the global electronic industry but its fortunes waned, and in 2008, the people rejected it in favour of the Pakatan/DAP.

The DAP has inherited an island that was once a shining example of success and is now in decline, and has the unenviable job of pushing the state up the success ladder at a time of economic slowdown and retreat in global foreign investment.

It is a tough job for the new rulers of Penang and for them to get bogged down in a village populated by just 24 families is a thankless task that could have been better handled.

The DAP should not blame others, says Kampung Buah Pala resident’s association chairman M. Sugumaran.

“The thing is that the Pakatan made promises and we believed them, and they were elected. But when the time came to deliver, they could not.”

Pakatan raised expectation and won big in 2008, without regard to the consequences, and now faces a backlash for failing to deliver.

Lim and his colleagues have given numerous reasons why they could not save the village – from the lack of political power to high cost of relocation and having to look after other Penangites. Some are valid while others are just excuses.

No matter how the Lim-Dr Teng debate goes, Kampung Buah Pala has been demolished and the former residents scattered, with only the memories of their former rustic life.

The Pakatan, for its part, is counting the political cost of the failure to save Kampung Buah Pala which has turned into an emotive issue among Indians.

The issue may well be the turning point in Indian perception of Pakatan as a friendly, caring and helpful coalition. -COMMENT BY BARADAN KUPPUSAMY

Where was Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the Kg Buah Pala issue?

The latest initiative taken by Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the De Facto
Leader of the opposition in voicing his concern for Tanjung Tokong is
definitely welcomed. But HINDRAF is surprised and disappointed that he
chose to observe a stony silence in the Kg Buah Pala issue - an issue
which is not very different from this Tg. Tokong situation.

The rhetoric of every Malaysian “Anak Saya” seems very shallow now
when no voice was heard from him as the Leader of the opposition party
in the Kg Buah Pala issue.

Dato Seri Anwar, stating that the land issue comes under the purview
of the state authority has urged the authorities, UDA and residents
to discuss and address the issues of compensation, resettlement and
preservation of the heritage value, but why did he stay silent on the
Kg Buah Pala issue? Didn’t the State authority have the power then to
preserve Kg Buah Pala or the Indians are so insignificant in the
opposition’s Malaysian agenda?

The residents of Kg Buah Pala are as much citizens of
Malaysia as anyone else. They fought tooth and nail by
themselves to preserve their land, only to be finally crushed by the
high handed and insensitive approach of the DAP/PR
government in Penang. Where was DSAI throughout that episode?

HINDRAF had urged the Malaysian Indians to throw in their
support for the opposition in hope of a change. It now seems quite
transparent that the Malaysian Indians have again been short changed
with the double standard practiced by the opposition similar to what
had been done to the Indians over the last 52 years by the
racist/facist UMNO led government.

On March 8, 2008, the public in unity had made the change hoping
that the opposition will step in and ensure that public interest
is taken care of rather than feeding their own political agenda based
worn out BN formula of ethnic political calculations.

The model created by the opposition leader in selective treatment for
the diffrenet ethnic groups for the same land ownership problem leaves
the Indians in KBP, in Penang and in Malaysia totally skeptical about
the what PR truly means to them. The message sent by the De Facto
leader in his recent statement coming even before the Kampung
Buah Pala issue has settled, just shows his inseincerity as far as
social justice is concerned. His concern seems to be to get the votes.
It sets a dangerous precedent for the things to come. DSAI has
portrayed himself to be working for all Malaysian irrespective of
their origin. How false! How disappointing!

Notwithstanding the biased approached taken by the opposition against
the Malaysian Indians, HINDRAF is in full support of any pro-active
action taken by the state authority to safeguard Kampung Tanjung
Tokong for its historical value although it failed in Kg Buah Pala.- R.Shan HINDRAF International Coordinator