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Wednesday, January 07, 2009

P036 by-election - political dynamics at play

The Kuala Terengganu P036 by-election could not have come at a more inopportune time for Barisan Nasional in general and UMNO, as well as Najib Razak in particular. As we all know, the Barisan Nasional is still reeling from the effects of the March 8 general election last year. The main coalition of UMNO, MCA, Gerakan and MIC have seen testing days after that general election with all parties going for each other's throat on issues close to their respective heart. Issues on Ketuanan Melayu; teaching of Maths and Science in the English language; marginalisation of the Malaysian citizen of Indian origin; distribution of the economics pie are but some of the issues which saw the BN main component parties shouting and screaming at each other with the obvious goal of championing each party's racial agenda and outlook.

To top it up, these main component parties also have internal issues to be settled. MCA saw a change of top leadership in an election which was more than a little uncivil and divisive resulting in its President and Deputy being elected from two different and opposing camps. As for MIC, it is as good as a dead horse. While Samy Vellu says he wants to re-brand MIC he forgets that re-branding MIC would most certainly involve his removal from the party as he has become synonymous with all that is wrong with MIC itself.

Most importantly is the internal wave of discontent which UMNO is going through from March 8 2008 until today. Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has been blamed for everything which has befallen UMNO so far. This blame culture and movement has been led by none other than its former President, Mahathir Mohammad. It has taken steam sometime in the middle of last year and at the end a power transmission timeline was agreed. That entails Abdullah relinquishing his Presidency in March this year to Najib Razak, the current Deputy President.

But that does not end there. As it is, there are now 3 persons eyeing the Deputy posts come March this year. The 3 VP posts are seeing a fight between 10 stalwarts. The Youth chief is also seeing a massive fights. In fact, UMNO is so full of infightings that it makes the Palestine conflicts rather tame in comparison. To add to all these, money politics have reared its ugly head and UMNO leadership is at a loss on how to solve these really dirty games.

If the Permatang Pauh by-election sounded the death knell for Abdullah, the P036 by-election is a sure test for Najib Razak's leadership. And it couldn't come at a worse time. The selection of Wan Ahmad Farid as UMNO's nominee for the election is not without significance. The fact that Wan Ahmad Farid - a known supporter of Abdullah in UMNO - is chosen as UMNO's nominee is widely seen as proof of Abdullah's influence in UMNO although Abdullah is supposedly on his way out. This is admitted even by Mahathir Mohammad who lamented that Wan Ahmad Farid is Abdullah's proxy and that he (Wan Ahmad Farid) is not the best man for the job.

Come what may, the obvious loser in all these would be none other than Najib Razak. Firstly, the nomination of Wan Ahmad Farid, a known Abdullah man, gives the impression that Najib Razak is powerless and not strong enough to stop Abdullah from still calling the shots even within 2 months from his retirement. That does not bode well for Najib and his supporters.

Secondly, win or lose, Najib would still lose. It is a lose-lose situation for him. If Wan Ahmad wins the election, the impression would be that his victory is caused by the "Abdullah factor". It would be Abdullah's great choice which wins the election. Not Najib's.

In the event of a loss, the world would come crumbling down on Najib. The blame would be on him. Allegations of sabotage would surely surface. However, the damndest conclusion in that event would be that the people of Kuala Terengganu, and Malaysia in general, has demonstrated that Najib's leadership is not welcome. The people do not want Najib as Malaysia's next Prime Minister. That would be the natural conclusion.

It must be remembered that Najib was entrusted to spearhead UMNO's and the BN's election campaign in Permatang Pauh. He failed miserably due mainly to his wrong approach, strategy and tactics. How could you go into someone's house and tell the owner of that house that his son is a sodomiser? The result of that is for all to see. Anwar won with a bigger majority. Najib (and Abdullah Ahmad Badawi) left Permatang Pauh even before the official announcement of the result!

In the event of a BN loss, P036 would be seen as an indictment of Najib's inability and his perceived tainted past (and present). It would be concluded as an almost unequivocal non-endorsement by the people of his leadership style, his visions, his political posturing on a wide range of issues which are close to the people's heart nowadays.

It is therefore quite obvious, that come what may, Najib would be the biggest loser in P036. Whatever the result of this by-election might be, it is obvious that the UMNO infighting would continue to ravage the party. Both the Abdullah and Najib faction would claim victory in the event of a win for Wan Ahmad Farid. And both would blame each other in the event of a loss. At the wrong end of this argument would be Najib Razak.

On the side of the fence, a victory for Wan Ahmad Farid, would, on the face of it, indirectly sound a loud "NO" to hudud and PAS' seeming unwillingness to let go of that issue. In that event, Pakatan Rakyat would have some soul searching to make. The loose alliance between a motley crew of parties with different views and ideas which strike, among others, at the most basic of issues, namely, whether Malaysia should be a secular or Islamic state, would not, in the long run, work if such issue is not analysed deeply and an acceptable common ground is found and agreed upon.

Husam Musa's statement that PAS would implement hudud during his debate with Khairy Jamaluddin shows the emotional, rather than rational, side of Husam and PAS as a whole. Khairy was being clever and he was digging a huge hole in front of Husam when he unnecessarily asked Husam about hudud. Husam did not see that hole and loudly and proudly proclaimed that PAS would implement hudud to a thunderous applause. Husam won the day but in a single stroke Khairy has managed to find a bullet which the BN could use during the by-election. Hudud, a non-issue before that day, has become an issue suddenly. Husam fell into the hole like a led balloon!

If PAS wins, there will be conclusion made that the people, including the non-Muslims, may not be adverse to hudud. Again, Pakatan Rakyat would have some soul searching to make. And the Barisan Nasional too. Hudud laws, and its implementation, is not an easy subject and it touches the nerves of all and sundry, not only the Muslims and the Malays . It involves international perception, international finance and investments, non-Muslims and Muslims alike. It involves the very basic structure of Malaysia. It involves the basic premise of Malaysia as a secular state with Islam as its official religion. Contrary to all political posturing by the likes of Mahathir Mohammad, Abdullah and the present UMNO leadership, everybody knows that Malaysia is NOT an Islamic state.

PAS itself is in the middle of a leadership tug of war. It is replete with factions where the Hadi, Nik Aziz and Anwar factors provide endless supply of political entanglement. Hadi is the Islamic state chieftain. Nik Aziz heads the more rationale and pragmatist group and is known to be the sympathisers for Anwar's reformist agenda.

P036 is thus more than what it seems. It is not only about the Barisan Nasional against the Pakatan Rakyat. It is about the survival of political ideologies within component parties of these two. It is also about the fight within the component parties.

The voters in P036 should be so lucky to know that their one vote each may in more than one way decide the future of Malaysia. They should therefore all come out and exercise their right to vote with a clear conscience and unhurried in their choice.

Happy voting.

11 comments:

kipas said...

I like ur way of thinking. Balanced analysis. Both sides has their problems. It would do well if both sides play fair but i don't think so.

One more thing, you forgot to mention that is if Pakatan Rakyat wins, it can help to scrap the notion that March 08 is won not because Pakatan Coalition is strong but at that time, BN is weak with infighting and complacency. It can show that the people begins to accept the fact that PR is working out and their choice is not done emotionally. Cheers

Daef said...

Superb. Superb. Superb. Superb.

Reading all your stuff about UMNO et al, I feel as if you are giving me a personal tour in a wax museum with all these screwed up character replicas and carefully explaining to me how they relate to each other and all the fucked up things they do to each other and everybody else, as we sip Pinot Noir.

Sometimes when I think about it, it's actually quite amazing that we haven't descended into some tribal civil war like some of those unfortunate African States.

Let's see what happens next! Malaysian politics beats any award winning HBO series. If we can televise some of these bastards into a reality show and sell them to US, they'd be hooked I tell ya. I see a whole boxed DVD set for our Parliamentary proceedings already. And its under counter the "the nasty version" culling the most foul and vicious venom to have been spewed by any living creature (including those without arms or legs), in an august institution. Hansard XXX: Kata-kata melampau beberapa orang wakil rakyat.

konek said...

The Barisan government has achieved 0% in reversing the trend of racism.

While South Africa has disbanded racism through the government's initiative after the global news onslaught, our government leaders are propagating FACISM and RACISM in every way.

In term of racism, we are the most uncivilised country in the world. Look into our neighbouring countries of Asia, they are advancing economically on a straight forward objective, for their citizens.

Whereas we are moving in deviationist path, widely off the international economic theory for the sole objective, of propelling the well being of a supreme race.

Mahathir era is over, here we have Badawi. Is he changing the trend? Not a single sign of it.

How about the future under Najib? Sad, sad. They have more camouflage in readiness.

aston said...

A non-malay even though he is more capable and more qualified but cannot:

Be - the prime minister of the country
Be - the deputy prime minister of the country
Be - the head of any branch of the armed forces in the country
Be - the head of department in a ministry
Be - the head of state of the states with no rulers
Be - the head prefect of a national school
Be - the IGP of the country
Be - the nominated as the best of the best in the school
Be - the secretary-general or deputy secretary-general of a ministry

What is worse is that the PM goes around telling people, repeating a crazy lie, by saying that - "We do not practice racial discrimination in our country".

Did the MCA and MIC leaders agree to this in 1957?

Did the people in Sabah and Sarawak also agree to this in 1963?

I think malays will keep on to give rubbish answer!

romsam said...

The truth is that Umno has ruled supreme for the last 50 years. It always got its way because the dominant ethnic majority of the country always supported its policies.

The state of the nation is corrupt, discriminatory, inefficient, racist, unjust, and backward. If Malaysia stinks then it is because Umno stinks.

If the "morals of the country" stinks, then it is because the morals of Umno politicians stinks.

I won't even discuss the morality of explosives and murder of foreign nationals as most people seem to be able to tell the difference between right and wrong in this instance.

Instead, I shall talk about Umno corruption and Umno racism as the former will occasion the disastrous downfall of this nation, and the latter will be the downfall of the malays.

Umno teaches that it is just to discriminate against all non-malays and non-Muslims: business, college universities, education opportunities, government contracts, jobs, schools, taxes, and even finding a cemetery to bury the dead.

Umno teaches that it is right to discriminate on the basis of a person culture, language, race or religious belief.

In front of non-malays, it speaks of tolerance and unity in diversity, and in front of malays, it speaks of the race and religious, cultural and language supremacy, glorification of ethnic and power subjugation.

Bung Mokhtar leadership role as characterised by a yobbish machismo, medieval attitudes, obscene gestures towards minorities and women, and strutting bigotry within Umno is not only not an accident of chance, but an exemplary example of Umno appeal to the baser instincts and darker fantasies of its ethnic constituency.

To the vernacular schools it gives a pittance for support, and to malay language schools, there is no need to be diplomatic and call them "national language" schools, it gives 100% support.

As for English medium schools, the type that made Malaysia education the best in South East Asia, and our school leavers the most sought after anywhere in the civilised world, they were made extinct, courtesy of Umno cultural fantasies and language supremacist.

So we are left with unemployable graduates with deplorable job skills and prospects.

Umno language supremacist policies caused the extinction of the best high quality education that Malaysia and the malays would ever know.

Umno perversion of the very idea of meritocracy in favour of racist discrimination has ensured the lack of meritocractic competition for all Malaysians.

Later or sooner, the malays will realise that denying meritocracy to non-malays guarantees that there can be no meritocracy for malays even within their own community.

Umno policies caused a brain drain to Australia, Canada, New Zealand, UK, and the US.

The fact that there is no entitlement complex nor inferiority complex or notable NEP dependence amongst the non-malays is no accident.

If the non-malays were the dominant ethnic majority, and they had an Umno-like racist party to lead them with promises of ethnic privileges, ethnic supremacy and racial discrimination, then I believe they would have lost their self-confidence, self-respect, and self-belief too.

Farish Noor once said "Umno ternak melayu untuk disembelih".

I agree, and if the dominant ethnic majority fails to see past Umno false gods of ethnic aggrandizement and seductive promises of ethnic supremacy, then we are all finished.

vesewe said...

Do you also know that the May 13 incidents, the Chinese were victimized wrongly?

In truth, before 1969, the malays were in despot state yet Malaysia's economy was vibrant.

Despite the Chinese being more economically prosperous, but in truth they only owned not more than 20% of the nation's equity.

The bulk of the nation's wealth went to Britain as the British still controlled most of our country's wealth, i.e. rubber and tin.

But Umno didn't tell the malays that. Instead, they told the malays that most wealth are going to the Chinese and therefore, the Chinese are making the malays poor.

Umno didn't want to tell the malays that it was Umno who agreed for the British to remain in control of Malaysia's wealth. And that Umno dare not retake the wealth away from the British.

Furthermore, the MCA and MIC didn't help as well as they too benefited from the anti Chinese and anti malay sentiment.

So, when problems cannot be solved and the malays were openly rebelling against Umno, the easiest escape is to blame the Chinese and innocent Chinese blood was spilled for Umno madness.

fong said...

Racial polarisation in the country is not caused by the country's vernacular school system but more by the government political, education and economic discriminative policies, an educationist said today.

The prime minister and all the Umno ministers will never admit that polarisation arises more out of the race-based policies and privileges one race gets over another.

Similarly, there are other areas of our daily lives where terminologies used have made us view certain practices as privileges rather than sacrifices. For instance, the bumi discount for houses.

The total sale value to the developer is still the same. It is just that the non-malay buyer is likely to be required to pay for some of the discount given to the malays.

But the longer the NEP policies continue and the greater the vehemence with which Umno politicians issue threats, terminologies will change and more people will talk about these practices or policies in words that may not sound as pleasing to the ears of the beneficiaries.

Obviously, at that point we shall probably see a new round of discriminations and disagreements. Unfortunately, as long as only weak people take on leadership roles within Umno, threats will continue, NEP policies will be sustained and corruption will prevail.

That unfortunately is the legacy we have as Malaysians.

The basic building blocks of unity, whether you are uniting different ethnic groups in a country or trying to re-engineer a corporation of differing cultural values, are the same.

The principal parties have to be treated as equals - nor special privileges no favours that would favour one group over another. Any privilege that is given should be given to all on the same basis - for example, special privilege given to the financially poor regardless of race or ethnic origin.

It is only on this equitable footing that you can foster true nationalism and build lasting unity, since each component group will have the same stake in the nation and has equal likelihood in reaping the rewards or suffering the consequences.

My recommendation to the government, not simply as a businessman but also based on pragmatism, is not to waste any more taxpayer ringgit on nationalism programmes until it has established the pre-conditions for its success.

What is sad is that, after almost five decades of independence, we have been unable in Malaysia, to bring globally-vision leaders to the forefront - leaders who can see beyond racial boundaries to recognise the immense sociological and economic potential that can benefit all Malaysians.

San said...

The Chinese population in 1957 was around 50% according to a senior guy I met who lived around that time. He said that I could check with the British authority to confirm this fact. I do not know whether this figure include or exclude Singapore Chinese.

How can it have such a drastic drop from 50% to 25% in less than 50 years? Which country in the normal course of time has this drastic drop in ethnic proportion if not due to war?

And if not due to the government promoting the migration inwards of Indonesian malays and discreetly promoting the migration outwards of non-malays (especially the Chinese), by implementing racist policies that makes it different for them to earn a living.

Probably, the third cause of the declining Chinese population in Malaysia is the disunity of the Chinese political parties and the disunity of the Chinese people themselves.

Most Chinese in Malaysia vote with their foot seeing all these injustices. I have met quite a lot of Chinese who are too timid or too selfish to speak out. Most Chinese do not care what happens to the race as long as they (poor people) make enough money for, (rich people) make more money for themselves.

The formation (or rather eviction) of Singapore was primarily the malays decision to divide the Chinese population in the peninsular and weaken their powers.

Now Singapore is a first world country, we hope that Singapore should come out and stand behind us.

This is the pathetic situation now in Malaysia! What we need is for the Singaporeans and Chinese Malaysians to be united in order to prevent Malaysia from becoming another Indonesia..........

ruyom said...

My school in the 50s and 60s when terms like bumi and non-bumi did not exist.

Back then, there was a kind of kindred among school children then that does not exist today. We were racially different but we were all equal in every other way. Nobody was 'special'.

Today when a non-malay student goes to school, he has already been told over and over again by his parents that, "You will have to do superlatively in order to get into a local university."

The child comes back having done creditably well, and doesn't get the university course of his choice. But his malay classmate, with worse marks than him, gets more than he asked for.

All these double standards and retrogressive policies were put in place by our selfish politicians whose aim, rather than uplifting the malays, was to perpetually stay in power for their own good.

The end result is a new generation of Malaysians who are not united in the least.

The first thing to be done towards a real Bangsa Malaysia is to pull down all divisions that categorise us along racial and religious lines.

All, irrespective of race and religion, must be subjected to a truly merit-based system in every sphere of Malaysian life.

All political parties that exploit any form of religion should be banned.

coolooc said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
art harun said...

Coolooc,

While I am an advocate of freedom of speech and I fight for the fundamental liberties of all, I abhor and will not tolerate racially inflamatory and provocative statements such as yours. While I - and I am sure all of us too - appreciate a fair and civil debate on the issues at hand, I don't accept your vilification of the Malays as a race and your stereotyping.
I have therefore deleted your comment and I make no apology for my action.
A copy of your comment will be kept as a reminder that racial bigotry exists on both side of the fence.

regards,
art harun