What lawyer, human rights activist Surendran’s departure means to PKR

ACCORDING to political analyst Dr Hussain Yusri Zawawi, the departure of former Padang Serai MP N. Surendran (main pic, second from left) from PKR on Wednesday (Feb 7) will have a significant impact on the party’s support base.

“Through media coverage, Surendran’s actions have undermined support for PKR, making it increasingly challenging for the party to maintain its credibility with the public.

“The level of public support has diminished significantly. The party leadership is now viewed as less reliable. Moreover, there remain numerous policy issues that the government has yet to address, as promised by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim,” Hussain was quoted by Sinar Daily as saying.

I think Dr Hussain is conflating unrelated things together. Sure, public support for Anwar’s government has diminished for various reasons but this has nothing to do with Surendran’s departure.

Surendran might say that he is leaving PKR because he is disappointed with the party’s leadership which he accuses of failing to uphold the reform agenda but to the public, he is leaving merely because he holds no important position in PKR. Period.

Surenderan used to be a PKR MP. He used to be a vice-president of PKR. The keyword here is “used”. If he was still a PKR MP or PKR’s vice-president, he not only would have stayed with PK but he would be asking all of us to keep our faith in PKR.

Because he is no longer an MP or the party vice-president, he is leaving PKR and asking us to not put our faith in PKR anymore. That is all.

The first thing we need to know about politicians is that there are no politicians who will serve anything for long if they do not get a commensurate reward.

No rewards forthcoming

Whether they serve their country, a leader or a party, they will expect something in return from those they serve in order to continue their service.

If even Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad can no longer serve his party and the nation when his party and the nation are no longer rewarding him with honour, authority and position, what more Surendran?

By the way. I don’t blame Surendran for leaving PKR. I truly believe that Surendran is someone who possesses a heroic heart because I truly believe that  everyone who enters politics enters with a heroic heart.

That is why politicians love to speak about “saving” or “serving” or “uplifting” or “justice”. If they are not saving the country, they are serving the country and if they are not uplifting the downtrodden, they are fighting against an injustice that has befallen the people.

This is how politicians see themselves. They see themselves as heroes. Whether they are truly heroes or not is another thing but from their point of view at least, I do believe that they truly see themselves as heroes who are doing heroic things.

Politicians might be heroes but they are also mere mortals. Surendran might be a hero but like any other living being, Surendran also needs things from the world.

After serving the people heroically, naturally he would expect to be honoured, praised, given positions and celebrated for his heroic deeds.

Let’s be honest

The problem however, is that the nation, the public and the political parties have only so much time, resources, position and attention to give our politicians. Out of every 100 politicians we have, we probably can just pay attention to and reward 10.

PKR president and Pakatan Harapan chairman Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim

The politicians have to compete among themselves to be in the top 10. If you can’t be in the top 10%, you have to hang your boots. That is life.

I honestly believe that Surendran is just quitting PKR because his ranking has dropped.

As for his claim that he is leaving PKR because PKR is failing to uphold the reform agenda, I think it is expected. I am not saying whether it is true or false but I do think it is meaningless.

For Surendran to say that he is leaving PKR because PKR has failed to reform the reform agenda is equivalent to a wife saying that she is leaving her husband because he is not a perfect man.

It is likely true that her husband is not a perfect man because which man is perfect but it most likely not true that that is the only reason why she has decided to leave him.

The truth is that Surendran is likely leaving PKR for the same reason that couples divorce. It is not because their other half is imperfect but because the love in their relationship has dried up.

You knew that your spouse was not perfect from the day before you married them but you will stay with them anyhow for as long as there is still love and appreciation in your relationship.

When the love and appreciation is gone, then you will sever the relationship by using such excuses like it is the imperfections of your spouse that forced you to sever the relationship.

According to Dr Hussain, the departure of the former Padang Serai MP from PKR will have a significant impact on the party’s support base but I seriously doubt it.

N. Surendran

Surendran will be forgotten

As Rick Blaine told Ilsa Lund in the classic movie Casablanca, “it doesn’t take much to see that the problems of three little people don’t amount to a hill of beans in this crazy world”.

When Prof Ramasamy Palanisamy left DAP, he also said the same thing about DAP that Surendran is currently saying about PKR. DAP is still holding strong. It is Ramasamy that is grasping at straws.

For the same reason, I don’t think the departure of Surendran will have any significant impact on PKR. In a couple of months, we will forget about Surendran but PKR will still be the ruling party in the country. This is the cold hard truth.

If the departure of Surendran means anything at all, it is that it raises the same question that Ramasamy’s departure raised last year. The question is just how much of an impact can an Indian make in a multi-racial party when an Indian is the smallest major race in peninsular Malaysia.

No matter what, it will be the Malay heroes who will be taking the lion’s share of honours, positions and authority in PKR just as it will be the Chinese heroes that will be taking the best of what DAP has to offer.

So where does this leave the Indian heroes? Can our heroes serve and save just to end up with nothing or crumbs in return? This is the question. – Feb 10, 2024


Nehru Sathiamoorthy is a roving tutor who loves politics, philosophy and psychology.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

Main pic credit: Keadilan on Twitter

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