Post GE14 : The ‘Shock and Awe’ Tactics in Malaysian Politics

Nine weeks have come to pass since the May 9th general election GE14. The very general election that many a local and foreign ‘political’ and ‘social’ commentator (some of whom were former leaders of the ‘Free World’) described as ‘momentous’, ‘ground breaking’, even ‘earth shattering’, amongst others. Take your pick.

 

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The Prime Minister’s Office, Putrajaya. (photo credit : Shah Said ; @ all rights reserved)

 

In hindsight, GE14 could not be described as the type of general election that one has come to expect.

Rather, for this edition in the list of general elections, GE14 had essentially morphed into a referendum instead, with the stewardship of Dato’ Sri Najib as the Prime Minister of Malaysia the issue in contention.

So caught up was the voting population with the ‘referendum’ that the repercussions of a defeat of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) at the polls never entered the minds of the electorate.

Nor did it seem to be of any consideration the individual service track record of incumbent BN Members of Parliament (MPs) standing for re-election, and nor did it seem to matter who the other candidates standing for election in the very same constituencies were.

This assertion is supported by the number of first term MPs that will be sworn in on July 16th 2018, prior to the first sitting of the 14th Parliament scheduled for the next day ie ninety (90).

These newly minted MPs make up 40% of the 222 MPs elected for the 14th Malaysian Parliament, with a majority, if not all, of these newly minted MPs coming from Pakatan Harapan (PH).

That does not yet take into consideration the new state assemblymen (and women) of State Legislative Assemblies, of which all bar Sarawak’s, were also up for election and summarily won by PH and their political allies in all but four : two by BN and another two won by the Islamist party, PAS.

But of course, this is just a personal observation and opinion, lest some who disagree call it a denial, in one form or another. Such is ‘new Malaysia’, even before GE14.

History now records that BN lost the vote at GE14, the first ever suffered by the ruling coalition led by UMNO at a general election ever since they were held in 1955, first as the coalition known as The Alliance and later as the Tun Razak-inspired coalition, Barisan Nasional or BN for short.

With the defeat at the polls, the then 13-party coalition BN handed over the right to form the new Federal government to the then 4-party coalition PH, with PH ironically led by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed, a former Prime Minister, a former president of UMNO and by extension, a former chairman of BN.

 

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Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed (photo credit : malaymailonline.com.my)

 

Although Tun Dr Mahathir had been duly sworn in as Prime Minister (again) within a day after GE14, the PH Federal Cabinet was only fully formed on July 2nd when the second batch of Federal ministers from PH were sworn in, in the presence of His Majesty The Yang Di Pertuan Agung, and thus complementing the first batch of ministers sworn in earlier.

Notwithstanding the delay in the swearing-in of these additional ministers, the PH Federal government had been pretty busy from Day 1.

Amongst the very first actions that it took was to form and convene a Council of Eminent Persons (CEP), whose main tasks, as it turned out over the next few days, was to review every single decision made by the former BN-led Federal government – strategic decisions, policies, investments, personnel appointments, etc etc, going back, it seemed, ever since the former Prime Minister, Dato’ Sri Najib, was first appointed Prime Minister.

The CEP is slated to be in existence for 100 days only and thereafter, to be disbanded. That it may be the very 100 days that PH, as part of its GE14 manifesto, had promised to implement ten (10) pledges for the ‘good’ of the country, may be just coincidence. Or maybe not.

As for the CEP, it may very well that CEP may exist a little bit longer. After all, its term of existence of 100 days ‘is not set in stone’. Unless there is a stone tablet somewhere that says 100 days, outlines its terms of reference and cite its legal standing, which would be of interest to many, out there somewhere.

 

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The 10 pledges in 100 days after wresting power from Barisan Nasional (in Bahasa Malaysia or Malay).

 

Of the ten, it has been announced a few weeks back that the implementation of several of them has to be re-scheduled. As for all the ten pledges, well, a little bit more time is required. But yes, definitely more than 100 days.

Nevertheless, the delay in fulfilling the ten pledges notwithstanding, the PH Federal government has also been pretty busy elsewhere, overseeing the ‘transformation’ (some say ‘dismantling’ but then again, it depends on which side of the fence you subscribe to) of Federal government agencies, institutions, and government-linked companies, so much so that barely a few days go by without the announcement of a ‘resignation’ or a ‘retirement’ or a ‘reassignment’ or ‘contract not renewed or terminated’ of a ‘big brass’ here and there.

Whether these ‘resignations’ or ‘retirements’ or ‘contract not renewed or terminated’ are ‘coerced’ or ‘suggested’ or ‘of free will’ are subject to interpretation, whereas ‘reassignments’ are part of the course for civil servants.

These ‘resignations’ and ‘retirements’ notwithstanding, the newly minted PH Ministers too have been pretty busy. Barely a day goes by without allegations of ‘scandals’ galore being announced to all and sundry, with said ‘scandals’ existing in all sectors of the previous BN government.

With a press conference here and a press conference there, journalists, TV or media, cannot claim to be ‘unemployed’. After all, just about everybody ‘loves a scandal’, regardless of the truth factor.

Say them enough times, an allegation will morph from ‘alleged’ to ‘true’ and soon, you will practically have the whole world accepting them without batting an eyelash or two, if they have not already.

 

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The four-party coalition, Pakatan Harapan (Photo credit : pakatanharapan.com)

 

The pronouncements come with such frequency that at one point, the whole country was debating (and calculating) the actual debt levels of the country.

It was a good exercise though, as most Malaysians now know to whose standards the financial reports of countries world-wide conform to.

However, the actual levels are still being debated and while the debate is still going on, the figures have changed as they are wont to over time. Something to keep us busy, I guess.

Officially, Malaysia, being part of the Commonwealth, adopts the legal view of ‘presumed innocent until proven guilty’. Unlike that misconception of the French approach of ‘presumed guilty until proven innocent’.

However, over the last three elections or so, it has been proven that different systems of law can ‘run’ side by side here in Malaysia, with the French misconception gaining traction in line with the rise in the use of social media.

Should the condemned be ultimately and actually found innocent in the highest court of law of the land, well, an apology would suffice. If it is sufficient, that is, bearing in mind the damage to not only one’s reputation and dignity but also that of his family as well.

But then again, one cannot sue ‘netizens’, cos they are ‘netizens’, so goes the belief. After all, that safety valve against the dissemination of fake and defamatory news that is the Anti Fake News law is going to be repealed soon. Something about it being undemocratic and impedes on the freedom of thought and free speech. No mention of defamation or slanderous or seditious news and information, never mind what it does to one’s reputation, dignity and well-being.

Furthermore, can the judgments of the Judiciary be accepted by the populace, especially when members of the Judiciary were all appointed by His Majesty The Yang Di Pertuan Agung on the advice of the previous BN Prime Minister. According to some, their judgements may be ‘prejudiced’.

While all these are unfolding before the very eyes of Malaysians, some may rejoice and say ‘About bloody time’. But there will also be no lack of Malaysians who will wonder just what the hell is going on.

In the meantime, investors too are busy themselves. With more than a 100-point drop on the Bursa Malaysia Composite Index (KLCI), there is no need to point in which direction the money is flowing.

 

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Proof of Voting (GE14) (photo credit : Shah Said ; @ all rights reserved)

 

The stains of the indelible ink on the second finger of our left hands has yet to grow out into the horizon. It may be coincidence that the ink may actually disappear in 100 days and when that time comes, the all important question will be the status of the 10 pledges : will it happen?

We will have to wait and see, won’t we!? In the words of the much maligned official media, watch this space. Or any other space, for that matter.

After all, we will all be watching.

 

 

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