Saturday, November 24, 2012

PM-in-waiting

Malaysians eagerly await the next general election, billed 13GE, which must be called anytime now and April next year which is the prerogative of the incumbent Prime Minister Najib Razak. Unlike the recently concluded US presidential election which saw Barack Obama defeat challenger Republican Mitt Romney by a comfortable electoral vote margin. On December 17 the US Congress will formally elect the next President (Obama) and vice President (Biden) for their second term in office. In Malaysia there is much at stake in the PMship which comes from whoever that holds the presidency of the most powerful member of the Barisan Nasional coalition, UMNO, in this case Najib Razak and he must want to keep this position at all cost. Presently he holds the presidency by default - as deputy president he had taken over the post when the previous president Ahmad Badawi who was also PM resigned under pressure of poor performance of the coalition at the 12GE held in March 2008. He eventually relegated his powerful post to Najib on 3 April 2009. In other word Najib did not have a proper  mandate from the UMNO general assembly. He needs to win the 13GE and then has his UMNO presidency endorsed thereafter.

While the power play is taking place in BN the same drama is unfurling in Pakatan Rakyat the rising opposition coalition led by Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy PM under the rule of former PM Dr Mahathir. Recently the president of a coalition member of PR, PAS, was proposed to be the next PM should PR win the 13GE. Read HERE. While there has been disagreement whether Anwar is morally qualified due to his sodomy charges (never proven or successfully prosecuted) he is nonetheless the most suitable candidate because of his experience and ability to handle crisis situations under pressure. He is also well respected overseas and his thoughts and views often sought by observers of regional politics in ASEAN. The PAS president, Abdul Hadi Awang, may have a cleaner record but he lacks the exposure and experience to lead the nation. Plus he is NOT acceptable by the non-Muslims to be the next PM due to the Islamic approach to governance of the nation using the Syariah laws as basis, although at this time only assured to apply to the Muslims and not all citizens, but the doubt remain will this promise be kept since in Malaysia promises are easily twisted to fit the need of the party in power.

An analysis HERE compares how we in Malaysia will fare if the electorates vote like the States. But there are differences that make the comparison invalid. Firstly, I would say American voters look at issues more than personalities. Whoever is more convincing in addressing pressing current issues will be more acceptable. There are less voters who are loyal to a party than to the cause. Obama won because he had dealt with the needs of the minorities, or in Malaysia we tend to classify them as pendatangs or migrants/aliens. As if the major race did not migrate here themselves long ago. Secondly I believe the electoral process is cleaner (I am not suggesting there are no frauds in the US elections) and less chance of manipulations. The results therefore more accurately reflect the true state of support. And electoral votes are sized according to population of a state so is a more accurate indication. Not here, a state with fewer voters can have more parliamentary seats if that state is more pro-incumbent government. This is electoral engineering to favor the government in power.

Power struggle within a coalition, be it BN or PR, will always provide entertainment to the public. But at a time when the future of the nation is at stake, with more and more citizens pressing for change because of perceived corruptions among many political leaders in the BN we hope the PR is more united in facing the battle of wrestling Putrajaya from the BN government. At this time there is no clear indication who will win, and victory by either side will be slim. A slim majority will make the government unstable but many citizens are prepared for some instability in exchange for a brighter future for the next generation.


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