KUALA LUMPUR - The Pakatan Rakyat, of late, has been mired so much in heated internal bickering and mudslinging that the previous black clouds looming over rival coalition Barisan Nasional now seem to be just a pale shade of grey.
Significantly, the problems in Barisan parties like Umno, MCA and PPP, seem to be tapering off while dissension appears to be mounting within PAS, the PKR and the DAP; which make up the Pakatan alliance.
Several months back, some Pakatan pundits were saying that snap elections may be called in Perak soon and general elections for the country may be held within a year - and they were so cock sure their coalition will sweep the board.
Now, they are not so confident that the tsunami that eroded the Barisan's two-third majority in Parliament in 2008 could return to help them defend some of the states they had won at the last polls.
Pakatan moves being watched
Their leaders and their members are aware that the voters who gave them the power to rule are now watching their every move and do not seem to be happy at what they are seeing.
Some key officials of Pakatan components are currently facing the disciplinary boards of their respective parties and the central leadership seems to be at a loss as to how to handle their in-fighting and betrayals.
Accusations, police reports and media statements denouncing each other seem to be the order of the day in Pakatan, worsened by news and views in mainstream media that favour the 1Malaysia administration of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak.
Issues related to religion, royalty and race that Pakatan had tried to champion had not gained the impact they expected because of their own intolerance and decadence.
Thus, it is not surprising that many political observers have started to paint a grim prospect of the Pakatan becoming a formidable political force by the time the next election comes by.
Dr P Sivamurugan, a Universiti Sains Malaysia political science lecturer, told Bernama that Pakatan leaders are increasingly becoming personal in airing their views and at times, even turning against their allies if they are not satisfied with certain issues.
"This shows that the opposition pact is in disarray as it does not have a stable policy to unite the leaders. Because of that, we can see fragility in their relations," he told the news agency.
He added there was a possibility that the bickerings were a diversionary tactic to divert the people's attention from issues affecting their de facto leader, Anwar Ibrahim.
Battling their own demons
He said that each time Anwar's sodomy case was up for hearing in court, various issues would crop up in the opposition pact, and then Anwar would heroically emerge to cool things down.
Commenting on the crises, Wanita Umno chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said the feedback she was getting from the womenfolk on the ground is that even those with no political interest or other insidious agenda are feeling betrayed by the votes they gave to the opposition in the 2008 election.
"Clearly the states of Penang, Selangor, Kedah and Kelantan are battling their own demons and their inability and failure to govern.
"Their weakness in administering the states with no plans nor positive outcomes has put the rakyat's fate and future in jeopardy," she said in a statement here Monday.
Shahrizat alleged the Pakatan pact is breaking every rule and principle they had "rhetorically expounded so loftily during the last election."
"It's a pity. The nation and the rakyat are becoming the victims of Pakatan," she added.
Umno information chief Ahmad Maslan said the Barisan is prepared to accept leaders and members of the Pakatan who are disillusioned with their parties' struggles,
"I urge those who are no longer in agreement with the opposition to leave those parties and join Umno," he told reporters in Kuantan on Sunday.
Ahmad, who is a deputy minister in the Prime Minister's Department, denied, however, that Umno and the Barisan had anything to do with what was happening in Pakatan.
Warning of BN ploys
Anwar, however, is not about to take the attacks on his coalition lying down.
And he has warned his members of cetain ploys by the Barisan to break up the Pakatan and lure away disgruntled members with various 'offers.'
This follows a claim by Indera Mahkota MP Azan Ismail (right) that Umno and the Penang-based Parti Cinta Malaysia had made overtures for him to leave the PKR and join them.
Azan, who last week resigned as Pahang PKR deputy chairman, had allegedly named former Cabinet member Dr Jamaludin Jarjis and PCM leader Huan Cheng Guan as the ones who had made 'offers' for him to desert the PKR.
"As informed by Azan, there had been attempts to instigate and bribe him into leaving the PKR and the Pakatan.
"He (Azan) had also shown me the SMSes sent by these people stating their objective," Anwar said after a meeting of the Pakatan leadership council at the PKR head office here on Sunday.
Thanking Azan for the feedback, he said it was proof that the Barisan was trying to 'buy over' Pakatan MPs.
"We understand the modus operandi of these people, who would resort to immoral means to create problems within Pakatan.
"Therefore, I would like to advise all my friends in Pakatan, to be cautious about this grand 'buying spree' before the Chinese New Year."