DAP is considering a merger with SNAP, amidst howling protests from all sides. With mixed reactions from the public, DAP should tread with care. On a positive note, a merger would enhance Pakatan Rakyat’s chances to gain a firmer foothold in Sarawak. It would also mean the stretching of DAP’s limited resources to set up branches in all the SNAP constituencies deep in the recesses of Sarawak.
A merger with SNAP will also allow DAP to make inroads into unknown territory, boosted by SNAP’s influence and an increment of seats to contest.
This however, will not go down well with PKR who are eyeing the same. Overstretched by its recent commitment to contest in 46 Sarawak seats, and the last minute blow by SNAP to contest on its own, PKR is still smarting from the antics of SNAP during the 416 election.
Apart from that, the party is unhappy over the perceived selfishness of their DAP colleagues in refusing to share the burden of the 'non-winnable' seats and insisting on taking only the good ones.
There is also a deep-seated that the Pakatan might become infiltrated through SNAP. PKR's fears are not unfounded or unfair because two activists - UK-based Sarawak Report and Haris Ibrahim of the MCLM - had warned that SNAP leaders had succumbed to monetary enticements from BN-linked sources.
Yet in many of his arguments, DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang has not considered this factor. Perhaps to his peril.
DAP must really take into consideration SNAP’s stand in the past, and how it conveniently dumped PKR to contest 24 of the seats contested by PKR. SNAP went on to lose with disastrous results, leaving itself reeling in defeat, and its reputation seriously taking a back seat.
With 24 candidates losing their deposits and their total tallied votes less than the independent candidates that contested, this clearly shows SNAP's dwindling reputation. The party is again back to square one with most people writing them off as an 'obsolete and mosquito' party.
Their last minute U-turn was a big blow to PKR and PR. From the initial 3 seats requested they went on to contest 24, of which they knew they had absolutely no chance to win. It goes to show their egoistical pride, and perhaps confirms the dark allegations against them. Yet despite the thunder and fear, their blatant vote-splitting actually had little impact.
But it sure paved the way for a tremendous amount of negative publicity for the PKR. Now that the polls are over, even DAP is using the spectre of multi-corner fights to gain public support for their proposal. This obviously heaps more negative publicity onto the PKR, which rightfully is outraged by such inconsiderate and intemperate behaviour.
Sarawak BN also eyeing SNAP
SNAP is also eyeing offers by Sarawak BN to join its fold, and any slight hesitation by DAP, will see SNAP snapped up by Sarawak BN. Others believe given this situation, SNAP should just dissolve and leave its members free to join whichever party they are eyeing.
For SNAP to merge with DAP whole, the package will also come with its own bad baggage. This the DAP can do without, although it is currently on such a high after its 12-seat win, it may no longer sense the ground below it. But for sure, certain leaders within SNAP will prove a big headache for DAP, and the possibility of another U-turn cannot be discounted in the next general election when vital parliamentary seats will be up for grabs.
In view of this, SNAP being politically weak with hardly a strong election machinery and resources, is unlikely to benefit DAP or Pakatan in the long run. And the merger will not sway much of the electorate’s decision in the next election either.
Voters will not change their mind for the candidate, but will be tempted to vote for change. SNAP has shown clearly that it does not appeal to the people. It does not symbolise change but the old school rather.
The SUPP factor
Some people however feel that an SUPP merger will be of benefit to Pakatan Rakyat. Given that SUPP still has the support of the electorate despite its poor showing, SUPP will be of greater advantage to Pakatan if the merger succeeds.
But again, apart from whether SUPP would really switch sides, such a tie-up is unlikely to get past the DAP. Despite its claims, DAP is very much like SUPP - Chinese predominat party that derives the greatest bulk of its support from the urban electorate. As such, DAP is unlikely to welcome such a rival into Pakatan.
At the end of the day, DAP should seek the support of its Pakatan Rakyat colleagues before it decides its next move. It should have the undivided blessings of Pakatan before plunging headlong into the SNAP love affair.
Failing to do so will only force the other coalition partners to retaliate and generate more ill-feeling. Secondly, it should not be a tussle for seats or an attempt to strengthen their power base.
Pakatan Rakyat has got to learn to share and take equal responsibility if it wants to survive. BN for that matter has been united enough to last half a century.
In its lust for SNAP - just like Umno has again begun making eyes at PAS - and closing an eye to the knowledge that SNAP has already ruthlessly snubbed the Pakatan pact in the past, the DAP must come to terms that in doing so it will very likely open up a Pandora’s Box. Both for itself and for Pakatan.
Knowing how eager the BN is to pry open this Pandora's box, DAP leaders must have the wisdom to keep the underlying arguments for such a questionable merger to the barest minimum. Otherwise, Pakatan leaders will find that they are only embarrassing themselves in their quest for power.
Written by Iskandar Dzulkarnain, Malaysia Chronicle