SPDP “Separatists 5 Lifeline…!”

There is a limit to what one can do and not do. The question now where is the thin line where the party is prepared to sacrifice? Will the party come out of this little ‘crisis” which is more like “a miscommunication plus brotherly misunderstanding” stronger or a little weakened. Its up now to the party faithful from the grassroot level from within SPDP to the top including those in the BN leadership and its component parties to say “Enough of this Nonsensical squabbling”

We are going into the 13th General Election which will be a “mother of all battles” and we need to draw every available strength as partners and not as FOES. The word is very clear and its “UNITED WE STAND,DIVIDED WE FALL” Let the EGO’s stand down and come together for the better good of the party SPDP. 

There are no two BUTS about it and a good and fair statement came from this article published in the English Daily Borneo Posts:- Fate of SPDP 5 hangs in the balance

THEY are at the brink of crossing the Rubicon. After almost two years of displaying what inner political circles describe as unkindly acts of insurrection and quiet disobedience, much to the chagrin of the majority, the party leadership has decided collectively to crack the whip and bring them to book.

The fate of the SPDP five now hangs in the balance and it appears their only lifeline is with the disciplinary committee whose findings on the alleged misconduct and behaviour of the dissenting group will be known in a fortnight’s time. But two weeks is a long time in politics and anything can happen along the way. Clearly, the rule of law now applies, and when it comes to the force of the letter and spirit of the constitution there are no two ways about it.

After holding out for such a long time, they may begin to wonder whether it’s been worth the effort after all as they now find themselves pushed to a corner and gradually isolated. Obviously, on their own, they would have become a spent force and would not have the energy to prolong the political skirmishes against the leadership of the party.

As they are now placed at the critical crossroads, two powerful images must surely stare them in the face. First, it is the fear of losing their positions in the party and, therefore, their powerbase, and this may have far-reaching implications on their future in politics. Next, rather asymmetrically, is the need to collect enough courage and humility to step out of their denial mode and seek forgiveness and reconciliation in the interest of party unity. It may well be the moment of truth and reckoning, notwithstanding the much-touted assumption that they may have an alternative course outside the party.

No one is bigger than the party, not even the president himself, and it is a fundamental principle in democratic representation that has to be upheld, or else the party risk being held at ransom by individuals with self-serving agenda and access to vast external resources. Consensus has long been the hallmark of SPDP politics, and this has been repeatedly stressed by the party president and its leaders at past conventions and to leaders at state and branch levels, and no one can dispute that it is the constituent core of the democratic process.

However, it is to be acknowledged that in matters affecting the interest of tens of thousands of members where the plurality of views is bound to surface, no consensus can be achieved totally without the element of compromise being managed effectively along the way. But too much of compromise can also be stressful for the party. Even then, the interest of the party must override that of individuals and groups.

The saga of the
SPDP 5, which began as a trivial disagreement or disappointment over the allocation of positions in the supreme council, has seemingly veered into a new ballgame that may eventually precipitate into something larger and more lethal than they are capable of handling. This raises the question of whether the group’s earlier claim over the alleged bias of the president in the appointment of key members in the supreme council is still the key factor keeping their current political pursuit alive. If they continue to stand their ground as they had done so wittingly prior to the decision of the supreme council to subject them to investigations by the disciplinary committee, they know they will be treading on shifting sand as the majority of the party members will stand on the side of the law and uphold the constitution.

According to well-placed sources, the challenge against the leadership did not happen after the party election, but had its roots in the run-up to the party convention where there had been reported instances of insubordination by some members of the gang of five towards the president. This was reportedly espoused in speeches made at some of the meet-the-people sessions with the message delivered at a public gathering in Beluru, one known to many as a tell-tale sign of an affront on the party leadership.

This gave rise to the question of compatibility and more specifically on the choice of appointed supreme council members, including the secretary-general, who could work with the president and supreme council in the interest of the party. The president must have known then there was a scheme to derail his leadership, but he chose to stand above the intrigue that was brewing and look at the bigger picture of the unity and stability of SPDP and Barisan Nasional. Compatibility is a stabilising and unifying factor in any party. To the president, the secretary-general is his right-hand man who must function to uphold and defend the position of the president and struggle of the party without the slightest doubt. Anything short of that will put the party leadership and its agenda in jeopardy.

Instead of reacting to immediately reprimand them, the president had decided to take a soft approach and give them the benefit of the doubt. Winning an argument against another fellow leader(s) was not in his mind.

Notwithstanding their incessant complaints and grudges against the president, their absence without valid reasons from almost all supreme council meetings in the past two years alone is enough to land them in legal entanglement, and they may even get the boot when the force of the party constitution is applied. They have the constitution to conform to and the rule-abiding members to explain to on their out-of-step action.

Any experienced political observer with a hawkish eye for what is beyond the written line and spoken word, will not hesitate to suggest that the group vis-a-vis the party is now placed in a Catch 22 situation. Nonetheless, it is not too late for them to make amends and start afresh on a conciliatory course in order to reinstate peace and enhance fortification in the party. Anything less than that would put them through a turbulent passage and it would be difficult for them to challenge, let alone defy the letters of the law as provided in the party constitution.

There is a point where political intrigue cannot and must not cross and that is when the rule of law and force of the constitution take their course. If the interest of the party and supporters matters more than their personal interest or ambition, the gang of five should be magnanimous enough to set aside their personal differences with the president and other members of the supreme council and accept in good faith the olive branch extended to them by the president. It may serve them well to take heed of the advice of South African freedom fighter Nelson Mandela who was often quoted as saying “a good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination.”

Any observer with an inquiring mind cannot be blamed for harbouring the view that the group may be drawing their support from some external sources if they continue to stand their ground and not budge despite the uncertainty they face in the party. But it is misleading to suggest that the group is being backed by some unseen elements with links to the ruling coalition as that would run contrary to the spirit and established code of conduct in the Barisan Nasional, although such a wild suggestion would give them some sense of security and lead some people into thinking that the group is not alone but part of a group of people with links to the corridor of power. If there is some truth to it, then there is reason not to brush aside the suggestion that the group of five may already be considering a alternative course for their political survival should they fail to make any headway in the party amidst the present internal crisis.

This raises the disturbing question of whether the so-called external linkup is consequential to the internal leadership dispute in SPDP or the two have all along been part and parcel of a bigger narrative.

Given the BN’s stringent code of discipline and conduct which, among others, prohibits a member or leader from resigning from his party to join another component party in order to remain in the BN and continue to the enjoy the privilege of power, one cannot imagine how the BN leadership would allow the group of five to conveniently take shelter in another component party, or join a newly registered party in the hope of being admitted into the BN family. To do so would mean breaking the “rules” and prescribed code of discipline of the BN and setting an unhealthy precedent. It is tantamount to shooting at your own feet. Among BN components, it is regarded as back-stabbing. If you stretch the argument further and view the implications from a broader perspective, the practice would not augur well for political stability, unity and collaboration across the BN board as it would create a lot of mistrust and confusion right down to the grassroots level. Once that trust, which has been built over the years, is lost, it would take a long time to regain and reinstate it. Even if the wound of ill feelings is healed, the scar may remain and will occasionally remind of a disturbing past.

Breaking away from the party and pursuing their struggle through a new political vehicle outside does not automatically guarantee their place in the BN as the newly-registered party must first get the consensus of all exiting BN component parties before their membership application can be approved. In light of the present situation, it will not be easy for the new party, with the gang of five roped in as members, to get the support of one or two component parties to endorse its application to join BN.

Obviously, the gang of five is facing some kind of conflict within themselves and with others. But trying to resolve a conflict in hand by creating a bigger conflict is not going to help either. On the contrary, it will worsen the situation and enlarge the conflict area. What they hope to achieve at the end of the day must work to their interest and satisfy their conditions, although that may run contrary to the wishes of the majority of the party members.

The hours and minutes are ticking by and the moment of reckoning is drawing near for the gang of five. The only amicable way out of the conflict for them is to engage in reconciliation and commit themselves to a peaceful return to the party. While this takes place, let no external force disrupt or frustrate the process. In the words of Winston Churchill, “Humility and patience are the tools for resolving conflict”.