PRU13 : Of Battles Royale and Of Battles Not To Be

Scenes like this are typical on nomination day of the Malaysian general elections (source : thestar.com.my)

Scenes like this are typical on nomination day of the Malaysian general elections (source : thestar.com.my)

The 20th day of April marks the day when potential candidates, both party-sponsored and self sponsored aka independents, wishing to contest in the upcoming 13th general elections GE13 (also known as PRU13, to use its Bahasa Malaysia acronym) submit officially their nomination papers for the general elections.

Normal practice will have all nomination papers submitted, scrutinised and vetted before being accepted and approved as a candidate by the Election Commission (EC). At the closing of the nomination period, the final list of candidates would then be announced to the public.

This edition of the general elections was no different, and after the dusts have settled, and the jeers and cheers have faded, and the party workers and supporters have gone off for the day to share the day’s happenings and to ready themselves for the fierce campaigning period to come, and after the candidates have gone away with each relieved that the technicalities of the nomination papers have been successfully dealt with (for some have failed at this very first hurdle and lost the fight before it even began), it was interesting to note that amongst the contests for 222 seats in the about-to-be-newly-constituted Dewan Rakyat and 505 seats in the respective State Legislative Assemblies (with the exception of Sarawak), several contests stood out notably affecting the parliamentary seats of Gelang Patah (Johor), Shah Alam (Selangor), Pasir Mas (Kelantan), Putrajaya, Lembah Pantai (Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur) and Kuala Kangsar (Perak).

Of much interest and much awaited was the highly anticipated contest for the parliamentary seat of Permatang Pauh involving the outgoing Opposition Leader, Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim (DSAI) and one of his many nemesis, the blogger known as PAPAGOMO.

After the Nomination comes the Official Campaign Period (source : thestar.com.my)

After the Nomination comes the Official Campaign Period
(source : thestar.com.my)

That the much-anticipated battle did not materialise despite the initial hoopla was a big disappointment and a letdown, not only as a battle but also for the unveiling of the real identity of PAPAGOMO. Adding spice to the contest was also the side issue of a RM100 million lawsuit the outgoing Opposition Leader filed against PAPAGOMO for alleged defamation (as per standard for the outgoing Opposition Leader, it involved revelations titillating in nature). Why PAPAGOMO did not file his (or her) nomination papers is anyone’s guess and as expected when such a contest did not materialise, speculations are now the order of the day.

As for the contests that will actually happen, one of note is that of the parliamentary seat of Gelang Patah, which will see a straight fight between candidates from Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

In the PR corner, at 72 and having contested the general elections since 1969 (I think) and having represented as many constituencies (can anyone assist here?) with Ipoh Timur being the most recent, is Mr. Lim Kit Siang.

For the uninitiated, Lim Kit Siang is the current DAP Advisor (not if the Registrar of Societies and 753 DAP delegates have got anything to do with it, but that’s another story) and who also happens to be the father to Mr Lim Guan Eng, who is the SecGen of DAP (again, not if the Registrar of Societies and 753 DAP delegates have got anything to do with it, and yes, that’s the same story), Chief Minister in the recently dissolved Penang state government as well as doubling up as a Member of Parliament (MP) in the recently dissolved Dewan Rakyat. He has other hats, some heavenly but that’s another story.

Facing Lim Senior is none other than Dato’ Abdul Ghani bin Othman, the mild-mannered four-term Chief Minister of Johor who was an academic before joining the rough and tumble world of politics and who has played a leading role in getting the Iskandar Malaysia project to where it is now.

The Battle of The Flags (source : thestar.com.my)

The Battle of The Flags
(source : thestar.com.my)

Gelang Patah’s electorate is made up of  54% voters who are Chinese and conventional wisdom would naturally have Lim Kit Siang as the victor. Hands down.

But this is Malaysia 2013. With the stakes at an all time high, conventional wisdom be damned so much so the contest has been dubbed as the Battle for Malaysia, the results of which will have 9.0 Richter-scale repercussions not only on the politics of the country but most importantly, on the state of race-relations in Malaysia, post PRU13.

In some ways, I should pity Lim Kit Siang as he may end up realising that he was actually a pawn in two separate games of chess, both out to avenge for slights, politically and personally. And all this while, he thought he was at least worth a bishop. Maybe even a queen or a king.

But on the other hand, as they say, you reap what you sow. Sooner or later, in the game of political poker, your hand gets called. And when that happens, the fall may be more than spectacular. But in the case of Lim Kit Siang, some might say that there is justice in this lifetime after all.

As for Shah Alam, the contest is between a one-time defence lawyer of Dato’ Sri Anwar Ibrahim turned nemesis, Dato’ Zulkifli Nordin and Khalid Samad, a closet Anwarina, if not ardent (to use a term coined for admirers and supporters of DSAI) representing the Islamist party, PAS.

Relations between the two is, well, non-existent, according to Khalid himself. As for Zulkifli Nordin, he is contesting in Shah Alam as a FRIEND OF BN, the first under that classification, in actual fact. If anything, his selection is apt, bearing in mind, his knowledge of DSAI when he was once DSAI’s defence lawyer.

Nomination Day Submission of Nomination Papers (source : thestar.com.my)

Nomination Day
Submission of Nomination Papers
(source : thestar.com.my)

But true to form as in the case of other DSAI’s friends-turned-nemesis (and there are many of them, with more joining the ranks), he has seen the light and from then onwards, he has always been on DSAI’s case (and at no charge this) as well as in the face of that Islamist party, PAS.

Pasir Mas is another interesting contest especially considering that the candidate nominated by BN did not file his nomination papers despite being at the nomination centre, catching everyone by surprise especially that of his colleagues and supporters. His reason for not submitting?

Figuring the chances of denying PAS a victory for the parliamentary seat lay more with the previous MP, Dato’ Paduka Ibrahim Ali, than with he himself, he withheld submission of his own nomination papers to better the odds of denying PAS a victory.

It’s a sure bet that decision did not go down well with Nik Abduh Nik Abdul Aziz, the No.2 of PAS’ Youth Wing, son of the PAS’ Chief Ulama and Kelantan’s Menteri Besar (or Chief Minister), Dato’ Nik Aziz Nik Mat and one time ISA (Internal Security Act, before its repeal) detainee, who is standing as candidate for the very same seat.

Funnily enough, there is logic to the decision by BN’s nominee for it can be said that Dato’ Ibrahim Ali is Pasir Mas and Pasir Mas is Dato’ Ibrahim Ali. The man has been elected for the same seat regardless which party he represents, be it BERJASA, UMNO, Semangat 46, and even PAS. Nevertheless, in light of the bigger picture, the BN would-be nominee could expect to be disciplined by UMNO, the party that he belongs to. That is, you could say, a foregone conclusion.

Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim (source : mstar.com.my)

Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim
(source : mstar.com.my)

In the case of Pasir Mas, it was the case of the BN nominee withholding his own nomination. But in the case of Kuala Kangsar, once represented by that formidable of a woman politician, Tan Sri Rafidah Aziz (the former International Trade Minister, Head of UMNO’s and BN’s women’s wing and together with the representative from the United States, held the delegates to the WTO talks in Singapore captivated, to the utter dismay of Singapore), it was more of a case of not being nominated but rather being nominated for the wrong seat.

The No.2 of UMNO’s women’s wing, Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim, wanted to contest the parliamentary seat of Kuala Kangsar. Instead she was nominated for state seat of Bukit Chandan and should she and BN prevailed in the state elections, a shoo-in for the position of State Executive Councillor, a senior and important position no less.

As reports had it, she turned down the nomination for the state seat and upon turning up on nomination day, instead of giving her support to BN’s nominee selected to contest the parliamentary seat, submitted her own nomination papers instead.

To say that UMNO especially the women’s wing felt betrayed was an understatement, never mind embarrassed. As it is, as stated by Dato’ Sri Najib, the Prime Minister, any member of UMNO and BN standing as an independent against a recognised BN candidate will automatically be expelled.

Being a senior leader and knowing whats to come via the mail from the UMNO hierarchy and disciplinary board, she announced her resignation from all her positions in the party and BN, so as to pre-empt the sacking. On Facebook, no less. Sign of the times this.

As for Lembah Pantai, the contest between BN’s Dato’ Seri Raja Nong Chik and Nurul Izzah of Parti Keadilan Rakyat or PKR (that third member of the PR troika) has been dubbed as the contest between two good-looking candidates (as highlighted by one English daily).

Notwithstanding that Nurul Izzah is PKR’s Vice President and daughter of DSAI, the contest is interesting in that she may not only have to work hard against BN’s formidable party machinery but also that of her opponents within PKR itself if she has any ambitions to retain the seat she won during the last general elections in 2008.

If that be the case, then BN could not be faulted in thinking that the odds are with them in recapturing the seat. Not that the odds were not already tilting in BN favour but this being a general election, it would be in BN’s interest in not underestimating Nurul Izzah nor anybody, for that matter.

For the BN, the parliamentary seat of Putrajaya is not only a battle to retain the seat that it retained in 2008 by its candidate, Dato Sri’ Tengku Adnan, but it is also highly symbolic and indicative. As Putrajaya’s electorate comprises of mainly of government employees, a victory for BN would mean that the civil servants are with BN. That and a little matter of Putrajaya being the administrative capital of the country as well as the fact that Dato’ Sri Tengku Adnan is also UMNO’s and BN’s Secretary General.

As for PR, its candidate being Dato’ Husam Musa, a Vice President of PAS, a protegé of Dato’ Nik Aziz, PAS Chief Ulama’ and Kelantan Menteri Besar, and touted as the next Menteri Besar of Kelantan. That is until the winds changed course and unsavoury news began to surface. That and the fact that Dato’ Nik Aziz, despite being in his early 80’s, seems to like being the Menteri Besar of Kelantan and wouldn’t mind extending his stay in the said position.

YAB Dato Nik Abdul Aziz PAS Chief Ulama' and Menteri Besar of Kelantan (source : wikipedia.org)

YAB Dato Nik Abdul Aziz
PAS Chief Ulama’ and Menteri Besar of Kelantan
(source : wikipedia.org)

If it’s any indication, confidence in Dato’ Husam’s camp must be running high, high enough for Dato’ Husam to contest both Putrajaya and the Kelantan state seat of Salor. On the other hand, one could be for testing the waters, so to speak, while the other as an insurance should Dato’ Nik Aziz suddenly realises his age and actually quits, making the position of Menteri Besar available.

As it is, voting won’t be til May 5th. In the meantime, anything can happen to influence the outcome of PRU13 eg PR’s candidates suddenly defecting or quitting en masse and turning BN-friendly, or the sudden revelation of political interferences from so-called friendly nations cum neighbours, or grand designs of faraway nations on the construction of a new world order and as in the words of the King of Siam, etc etc etc.

What the etc etc etc will turn out to be, we will just have to wait and see.

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Filed under Malaysia, Parliament, Personal, Politics, Race Relations, Uncategorized

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