The election fever started off more than a year ago itself. The BN war machinery was put on full alert and the PM kept everyone guessing. Each side did their thing by heavy posturing in word, speech and thought. At eateries and kenduris and drinking sessions Malaysian politics was somehow never excluded. Every corner of Malaysian existence from finances, royalties, religions, race and citizenship has been fully exploited. Thus the election fever has reached endemic proportions today. The imminent call for the impending elections and dissolution of the Parliament is just around the corner. It also appears that every Malaysian is also all geared for the elections with a “bring it on” attitude. As the Americans would say, “Let’s do it”.
Given this scenario it looks like it’s going to be a close call which can go either way. Self-proclaimed prophets of doom have started painting the worse scenario from national bankruptcy to emergency rule. Approximately 30 % of the voting populace is going to vote for BN and a similar percentage from the opposition will go the other way. Both these groups are diehards and are highly unlikely to change their respective positions quite similar to one’s adamant adherence to his/her religion. It is the in-between 40% who can be termed as fence-sitters and it is this group that will eventually be the kingmakers. This fence-sitting group has also in its midst intellectuals, businessmen, farmers and fishermen. In this general scheme of things our fellow countrymen from East Malaysia too are split likewise although politics there is a little bit more complex.
Both opposing factions are not without their respective strengths and weaknesses. The GE 12 gave a bigger opportunity for the opposition to prove that they are a better choice. In Penang for instance, the DAP has proven a greater degree of good governance. Selangor too has fared quite well and has boasted of bigger foreign investment. Even Kedah is said to have been governed well and businessmen there are also happier. Kelantan perhaps remains unchanged as it has been in power there all this while. It is ironical that although PR is the ruling party in the Pakatan states, the government machinery from the police to the peons still refers to them as the opposition. Such is the “strength” of the BN after 55 years of having been the ruling coalition.
BN too, under the stewardship of DSN as PM has shown itself to be more people friendly in many areas. The Indian and Chinese communities particularly including the East Malaysian s have been placated more than in earlier times. The vernacular schools and non-Muslim places of worship particularly Hindu have had lesser problems with the authorities than earlier times. There has also been re-looks at the ISA and some other grey areas that have displeased the Malaysian public for a long time. The recent Bersih rally saw little or no police intervention indicating that DSN is keeping them on the leash better this time. BN is also better bound together or at least seen to be so with less policy differences.
The principal weakness of PR is seen by many as it being merely a union of convenience. Let’s “get together and bash the common foe” kind of a false sense of camaderie. The US, UK and USSR did exactly the same thing and bashed Hitler (and Japan) up for good. After WW II and the Allied success, they went back to fighting each other. I know of some of my friends who have the ABU spirit and will vote for just about anybody so long as they are anti-Barisan or UMNO. PR has many differences in its core ideology itself. PAS, to its credit, has been consistent since it was formed in setting up a theocratic Islamic state and has proclaimed Kelantan as the “serambi Mekah” often. “Over my dead body” says DAP’s strongman Karpal Singh from DAP which favours a secular state. Keadilan is also not without its own internal strife and struggle of political leadership. DSAI seems to be a weak thread holding the loose PR together with his charisma and rhetoric.
Old buddies at one time
BN’s principal weakness is UMNO’s over-lordship over all the other BN parties. For instance, it’s an unwritten tradition and practice that the UMNO President is automatically also the president of BN and hence the Prime Minister too. The next drawback for BN is the numerous scandals in which its leaders are linked to directly or indirectly. But the greatest weakness of BN is its total subservience to please its silent master guru - TDM. Of this Zaid Ibrahim who has been sitting on both sides of the fence and left both in disgust says, “ The eunuchs in the BN are all scared of him (TDM). I urge Malaysians to show their revulsion for this man and his ideas by rejecting the BN once and for all.” TDM pushed himself out and controls BN from outside. When Pak Lah tried to do things in his way TDM engineered his downfall. DSN is well aware of what can happen to him too if he too crosses TDM’s line.
The "ghost" of TDM should just move away
As I have said, we are going to have an interesting GE 13 which might also end the 55 years of BN rule and end of the RAHMAN myth. Let us just hope and pray that whatever the outcome, let peace and prosperity never leave our beloved Malaysia.