The Changing Face of Malaysian Politics?

The 12th General Elections (12th GE), held in 2008, is often proclaimed by the Malaysian opposition parties as the elections which changed or will be the catalyst for change or will change the face of Malaysian politics, as we know it, forever.

The 12th GE saw :-

  • the opposition parties namely PKR, PAS, and DAP forming a loose coalition named the Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
  • the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) losing its 2/3 majority in the Federal Parliament, albeit marginally.
  • the balance of power in 4 states namely Selangor, Perak, Kedah and Penang shifted from BN to PR, with PR taking control of the respective state assemblies and forming the new state governments. This makes the number of states under PR control to 5, with Kelantan being already under PAS’ control since 1990.
  • the fate of some of BN component parties in the elections, which saw some of the component parties suffering heavy losses, even when those who stood for election or re-election were BN bigwigs and serving ministers.

The above, I believe, are basically the facts. What comes next is very much open to debate.

  • Basking in the glory of the previous day’s results, elected members and officials of PR and their sympatisers declared it to be a ‘political tsunami’, making reference to the freak of nature being the huge tidal waves sweeping whatever is in its way and leaving a trail of devastation and destruction in its wake, as it makes its way back to the seas, and signalling the demise of BN.
  • Some even went further and equate the election results to the diminishing influence of the main party in BN, that being UMNO (the United Malays National Organization) and its comrades-in-arms ever since the very first general election ever held in 1955, MCA (Malaysian Chinese Association) and MIC (Malaysian Indian Congress), over the people.
  • PR proclaimed that the results of the 12th GE was proof of the change that the people were demanding as they vented their anger and disillusionment against BN at the ballot box.
  • They further proclaimed that if this trend were to be followed through, PR will overthrow BN as the ruling party, making the federal capital Putrajaya theirs after the 13th GE, due by 2013 at the latest.

It’s now 2012 and a year to go before the 13th GE must actually be held. Four years have gone under the bridge. Questions have been posed? And these are my responses : Have Malaysian politics changed? YES. For the better? NO. Will PR form the next Federal government? NO. Will BN regain the lost states? MOST, IF NOT ALL. Will BN regain its 2/3 majority in Parliament? YES. Why?

It is my belief that since the last GE, as a nation we are politically and socially worse off than before. And its not UMNO’s and BN’s fault. Why?

  • I strongly believe that UMNO has been singled out by members of the PR as being the BIG ONE to be killed off. Not MCA, not MIC and not any other party, no disrespect to them. Is it because, by tradition and by realpolitik, never mind the Federal Constitution, whoever heads UMNO will be Prime Minister? (Assuming BN wins the GE, of course). No matter what they say in public, realpolitik ala Malaysia dictates that for PR to prevail over BN, then UMNO must be killed off because like it or not, accept it or not, UMNO represent the Malays and the Bumiputeras and UMNO is the backbone of BN. And who are the Malays or Bumiputeras, you might ask? Have a look at the statistics and you may get an inkling of an idea.
  • To kill UMNO and effectively BN, UMNO will have to be attacked two-prong – from the standpoint of religion and from the standpoint of race. From the standpoint of race, accusations of UMNO being a racist political animal and one who maintains their grip on power by playing on the fears of the Malays losing power to the other races have being ringing louder than ever since the 12th GE. The ones pointing the finger and reading out the condemnation? PR of course and not surprisingly. However, if UMNO were to be a racist party, UMNO would have dealt racism a big blow. In the past and until the last 12th GE, the facts are that UMNO had offered its comrades in BN, majority Malay seats for them to stand for election. Following that, UMNO has under the power sharing concept, accepted and backed the appointments to the Cabinet, non-Malay members from MCA, MIC, Gerakan and the rest of the component parties. Mind you, this has been going on since the very first general elections held in 1955 until today and it will go on being practised for the sake of all who has a stake in this land of peace and harmony. Despite the losses and diminished number of elected representatives, power is still shared. That being the case, then UMNO will have been vilified by the international racist community, never mind being the poster boy for racism.
  • With respect to religion, it has been rather noticeable that since the 12th GE, there have been more incidents and contentious issues involving religion and related issues, of late than ever before. Is this coincidence? One would like to think so but do we actually buy it? It is my reckoning that whenever contentious issues pertaining to religion crops up, UMNO and BN would be made to look incompetent as the government of the day when it comes to protecting the rights and dignity of Islam as the official religion of the nation as per Federal Constitution. Never mind that the people of this country have been practising his or her own religion without any problems or interference before, as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution. What counts is, make BN and UMNO look incompetent.

If the theory is correct, then it is a very dangerous development, and as our history strongly suggests, issues pertaining to race and religion are very sensitive and are not to be trifled with. Patience is a virtue but please do not take it for granted. Hence, such calls eg the call by a DAP stalwart calling on the Chinese to throw out the BN can be construed as a call for the Chinese to overthrow UMNO and therefore the Malays, should be avoided. Will the DAP stalwart accept blame for his contribution to the breakdown of race relations should anything untoward happen because of his speech? Let us ponder, shall we?

It is therefore ironic when not long after the statement by the DAP stalwart was made, the controversy of pig heads found at several mosques erupted with DAP calling for roundtable talks to avoid racial and religious tension in the country. What irony and what hypocrisy. And is someone giving us a message here?

Power is the endgame here and it seems that for PR, the end justify the means. But at what cost? We have been living in peace and harmony and mutual respect for so long, should we now take it for granted? I say No, but then again I am one individual.

Maybe we are not as prosperous as Singapore as DAP so badly wanted but other countries think we are relatively prosperous. Maybe we are not as efficient as Singapore as DAP so badly desires, but other countries think we are. Or is our level of transparency not at the level of Singapore’s as DAP is so strenuously promoting? But the thing is, is Singapore really transparent? I, for one, would love to see a study being made on the contributing factors towards the rise in Singapore’s foreign reserves during the Asian Financial Crisis. The study might shed some light but then again, it might not. It depends on how transparent you are and who is conducting the study. Or do we just accept conventional wisdom or the talks on the street?

Of course, whenever there is a chance to make UMNO and BN pre-occupied with issues has not gone to waste. After all, if you are pre-occupied, then you might lose your focus and take on things. Calls for a Royal Commission of Inquiry (RCI) seems to be an everyday occurrence nowadays even for such mundane matters. Busy busy. I wonder, will there be calls for a RCI should PR lose by a landslide in the 13th GE? And the states of Selangor, Kedah, Kelantan and Penang returning back to BN in the next GE?

Let us ponder on that, shall we?


Date : 17 February 2012



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