Time is running out

— Khairie Hisyam Aliman
The Malaysian Insider
May 12, 2012

MAY 12 — The next general election looms large, yet the ruling coalition is fumbling with the wrong issues. Could that be Barisan Nasional’s undoing this time around?

Parliament is due to be dissolved next April, but with 11 months to go there is seemingly no sign of that happening soon. Some even think it will be pushed as far as September. Many believe that the ruling coalition, the prime minister especially, was unnerved enough by Bersih 3.0’s turnout to delay calling for polls.

Indeed, what a turnout it was. Bersih organisers estimate that 250,000-300,000 people were there; independent estimates put it between 80,000 and 100,000. While we may never know the actual figure, the figures we are contemplating are large enough to worry those in power. Not everyone wearing yellow that day supports the opposition, but they sent out the same, unmistakeable message.

The people are acutely aware that the electoral process is suspect. And the people want the problem fixed.

Despite the presence of opposition figures during the rally, the purpose of many who decided to come was not to show their support to any particular politician, or to any political party. All they wanted was for their vote to be fairly accounted for come the election. All they wanted was a system of integrity that they could trust.

Yet despite that message, the aftermath is unpromising.

More focus is accorded the ensuing violence than the loud, unspoken statement, with most commentators more interested in placing the blame for the regrettable negatives. The mainstream media face widespread allegations of selective reporting following longstanding claims of bias.

Astro runs into trouble when the BBC, outraged over the censoring of its Bersih 3.0 coverage, demands answers, to which Astro claims that “local regulations” forced its hand; further exposure by an independent news source reveals that said “regulations” feature heavily biased guidelines, apparently designed to maintain the government’s good image.

The police are fast losing credibility in the public’s eyes amid accusations of excessive, uncalled for violence after the rally. The police’s claim that the irritants containing CS gas used to contain the rally were “UN approved” as a “riot-control agent” was disclaimed by the United Nations itself.

Some figures are even labelling Bersih as an attempted coup, to the incredulous gasps of many impartial parties.

These developments paint a picture of dishonesty around the nation’s authorities and, by extension, the ruling coalition.

Day by day the irrepressible alternative media are filling in the gaps, telling untold stories and reporting buried facts. Day by day the public opinion on the ruling coalition is chipped away. The people are beginning to lose faith in the ruling coalition’s integrity and accountability.

And therein lies the prime minister’s biggest battle: restoring voters’ faith.

However, we are still seeing political sparring that smacks of character assassination. Many previously raised issues that bring to light questionable conducts of the ruling coalition’s members in seats of power are perceived as not properly dealt with. We are still seeing a political scene that focuses on discrediting the opponent rather than expounding on one’s own merit.

The most telling of all is how talk abounds on why the people should show their gratitude to the ruling coalition for the past 52 years. On why the people should re-elect the current government come the election as a thank you.

Is the main premise of the campaign gratitude then?

I don’t think there is much room for sentiment, especially gratitude, in politics. We are choosing people who would govern us, manage our resources and generally on whom we entrust the responsibility to make our lives better.

And that choice needs to be correct, regardless of gratitude, regardless of history. The ruling coalition cannot point to exceedingly distant memories as proof of past performance; that amounts to taking credit for the good done by leaders of a different time.

To restore voters’ faith, the ruling coalition — and the prime minister — needs to prove that the people can count on them for yet another term. They need to prove that the people will not be deceived, manipulated or misinformed.

Most importantly, the people need to be assured that they can make their choice in a fair, honest electoral process. The burden of proof is on Barisan Nasional.

Your clock is ticking, Prime Minister.

  1. #1 by Cinapek on Saturday, 12 May 2012 - 10:27 am

    :….The people are acutely aware that the electoral process is suspect. And the people want the problem fixed….”

    I think it is more than this. The huge turnout could be a manifestation of the deep seated disillusionment and frustration at the mismanagement of this country by the ruling coalition which has been given 52 years to do its job and all it has to show for it are massive corruption by its elites, increase in the racial and religious polarisation and disharmony of its people etc, culminating in blatant attempts to rig the election process in order to stay in power. The people knew that if they do not stop them at the polls, the plunder and rape of this country will continue. And the people can clearly see that their only hope to save this country at the polls are also being deliberately thwarted by the ruling coalition through questionable and dishonest means.

    Otherwise, how do you explain that the rally participants come from all races, all religions, all ages, all professions (even retired ambassadors), you name it and they are there. Many drove hundreds of miles just to take part in that 2 hour rally. People who have never ever bothered to step out of their homes to protest against anything finally decides enough is enough and they are going to brave tear gas, chemical laced water cannons and baton wielding police to make sure their voices are heard.

  2. #2 by boh-liao on Saturday, 12 May 2012 - 11:33 am

    AhCheatkor 2 KHA: Y u say like dis 1? What time is running out?
    Not 4 UmnoB! Y u no C UmnoB army gathered in d stadium meh? All ready 2 WIN, conquer, divide n rule! Me ready anytime 2 dissolve d parliament; UmnoB rule OK!?

  3. #3 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Saturday, 12 May 2012 - 12:28 pm

    Time is running out for umno? Ho ho ho ho. What is this, man? Time had already ran out for those idiots. Umno is hanging on purely on borrowed time. And worse. The lenders of the borrowed time largely are people who are lowly educated, freshly baked bumiputras (legal and illegal ones) and of course not forgetting the umnoputras.

    And umno blames the opposition for attempting to topple the government. What stupid idea. The opposition has been attempting precisely that constitutionally for the last 1/2 centuary (during every General Election) and the 308 attempt yeilded the best ever result.

    Going by the escalating unhappiness shown (by the people) from bersih 1 to 2 and recently to 3, the horizon for umno looks positively cloudy, dark and gloomy.

    Is this all a consequence of the opposition’s success and effort? Only partly, I say. And mainly it was due to the growing distrust the people in general have for umno. In other words, even if the opposition did nothing, the movement by the people to remove the umno government from office in general election would still go on. Only faster, I suspect. Look at middle east. Look at the north african nations.

    And why is that so? The presence of politicians in opposition actually slow the process down. To the people the issue is straightforward. If this government is no good. Then change it. You see firstly, the people are not distracted by all sorts of political issues and interest. And second, having an opposition figure / party to lead the dissent also means that the ruling party has a clear target to hit back at. For instance umno could (and has in fact been doing it) resort to confusing the people with claims like your leader is no good for this and that reason.

    So umno is lucky that there exist an opposition pact in the country. Be that as it may, it is still better to have those politician in opposition to lead the movement because otherwise, a chaotic vacumm would be created.

    So umno jangan main main lagi.

  4. #4 by dagen wanna "ABU" on Saturday, 12 May 2012 - 12:31 pm

    For the wave of dissent welling up against you behind the opposition pact could be much much stronger than you could imagine.

  5. #5 by Winston on Saturday, 12 May 2012 - 1:15 pm

    They need to prove that the people will not be deceived, manipulated or misinformed. – end of quote

    What they want is to empty the till as soon as there is any money in it.
    They have been treating that as their personal largesse for decades.
    And is extremely unlikely to give up.
    And as for change, all Malaysians got is alphabet soup!
    And whatever minor change, which is more like a sleight of hand, can be reverted to the status quo or even worse ONCE THE VOTES ARE IN THEIR HANDS!
    So, does any Malaysian still want to take risks with their future and the future of their off-springs.
    So, strike while the iron is still hot and kick UMNO/BN OUT!!!!

  6. #6 by monsterball on Saturday, 12 May 2012 - 4:26 pm

    The longer 13th GE is delayed with no sign from Najib…means he has no confident to win.
    The confidence get lesser and lesser…while delaying it is not good for him too.
    He has embarked all over to check up things.
    He keep throwing out good news and money to keep fishing for votes.
    This is his last ditch.
    It’s now or never.
    Now..sure to be defeated….and no reasons to apply “Never” with Emergency Rule.
    Win by cheating….will be exposed more easier than before.
    Opposition parties and People are aggressive and fearless.
    This bother him most.
    The man with the real power is still Mahathir who fears the University students most…why??…because smart young Malaysians are never his cup of tea.
    He wants young Malaysians to be half past sixes and depend forever on handouts from UMNO b.

  7. #7 by sheriff singh on Saturday, 12 May 2012 - 5:07 pm

    All the Prime Minister need to do is to win the elections by whatever means.

    If he can achieve this, many issues will be unimportant to him then. He would have already got what he wants and he is there for another 5 years.

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