GE13 Set to Be a Titanic Clash

By Kee Thuan Chye

Parliament has been dissolved, paving the way for the much-awaited 13th general election.

Finally, Prime Minister Najib Razak made the call on April 3, which marked the fourth anniversary of his premiership, after much hesitation that had provoked much speculation that he was afraid of the election outcome.

Indeed, a week prior to the dissolution, he embarked on his famous “I help you, you help me” routine of giving cash bonuses or salary increments to a spectrum of people, including the civil service (which is 1.4 million-strong), the army, the police, and the staff of Permodalan Nasional Berhad (PNB), Telekom Malaysia, Petronas and seven statutory bodies.

This incensed level-headed Malaysians who saw it as a blatant form of vote-buying, but it appears that Najib must be desperate to resort to such a desperate measure.

Besides, the feedback from his giving out the BR1M (Bantuan Rakyat 1Malaysia) RM500 to households earning not more than RM3,000 a month must have indicated that the recipients responded positively to it. Although BR1M does not necessarily ensure votes for the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN), it has reportedly influenced fence-sitters to be more partial towards the coalition. There is no scientific survey as yet to prove this is so, but the amount of anecdotal evidence is telling enough.

The common expectation is that this general election will see a tight race between BN and Pakatan Rakyat. But while there are pundits who think this is the one time the Opposition can unseat the ruling party at federal level, most are of the opinion that BN should win. Even so, Najib might have been delaying calling the elections because he wanted to be more certain that he could win back for BN the much-coveted two-thirds majority in Parliament which it lost in 2008.

Ground sentiment, however, indicates that this will be improbable. There has never been a stronger call for change in Malaysia than now. The top reasons given for this desire for change have invariably been intolerance of the corrupt government, BN’s mismanagement of the country in the past few decades, the economic wastage resulting from crony capitalism, the worsening of race relations heightened by the rhetoric of BN leaders, BN’s abuse of the country’s institutions, BN’s double standards in applying the law, and, above all, the rise in the prices of essential goods.

Attendance at Pakatan ceramahs have also been unexpectedly huge, even in BN-controlled states like Negeri Sembilan, Melaka and Johor. Although there is no guarantee that huge attendances will translate into plenty of votes, the enthusiastic response has been grating on pro-BN supporters, spurring them to violently attack some of these ceramahs.

Furthermore, there has been an increase of 2.9 million voters since 2008, and many of these are young people. It is as yet unpredictable how they will vote, and BN has done its darnedest to influence them to support it, including barraging them with SMSes and letters, giving them BR1M cash, subsidising their smartphone purchases and organising a myriad number of youth events. It has even resorted to frightening them with the prospect of racial riots.

But the young don’t carry the baggage of fear that the older generations do, especially the fear of May 13 and Operasi Lalang. They have not been through the Mahathir era of autocratic rule. Neither have they been as conditioned by “the devil we know”, the reference now associated with BN.

In fact, university students have broken out of the yoke imposed on them for three decades by the ruling party, by way of the Universities and University Colleges Act (UUCA). Many have become staunch activists calling for greater freedom and an end to BN rule. Some have even offered to stand in the general election. This is something any ruling party would be worried about.

Another factor that accounts for a close election outcome is the character of the Opposition. It has burgeoned since 2008, when the so-called political tsunami propelled it upwards, a phenomenon that took even the Opposition by surprise. Over the last five years, the three main partners PKR, PAS and the DAP have developed into a credible Opposition that gives substance to the idea of the two-coalition system that Malaysia needs. It is also multi-racial, which is always a plus point in a society that is still fixated on the issue of race.

Its administration of four states has also helped increase its profile, although these administrations have been embattled by disruptive pro-BN forces and suffered poor cooperation from the federal government. Despite these difficulties, Penang and Selangor in particular have earned praise for prudence in the handling of their economies.

Taking the fight to the giant BN this time, the underdog Pakatan has unveiled its manifesto way ahead of the latter and declared its intent on conquering a few more states. Among those it has set its sights on are Perlis and Negeri Sembilan, apart from the task of recapturing Perak.

DAP’s national chairman, Karpal Singh, has been even more gung-ho in predicting that Pakatan would win Johor as well. This, however, is very unlikely, considering that Johor is one of BN’s safe deposits. Pakatan might win a few more seats there, but winning the state would require a miracle.

Winning Putrajaya will be even more herculean for the underdog. DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang has said that it can be achieved if Pakatan holds on to its existing 82 seats and goes on to win at least 40 per cent of those in Johor, Sabah and Sarawak. But there are 83 of these in those three states and 40 per cent would amount to 33 seats. At present, Pakatan has only three; what are the chances of its winning another 30? And what are the chances of its retaining all its current 82 as well?

Besides, to win a good number of seats in Sabah, Pakatan needs to form an electoral pact with the local Opposition parties there, in order to avoid multi-cornered fights that would be an advantage to BN. But this has not been achieved despite negotiations by all concerned parties. And the way it looks, it will not come about.

Be that as it may, the 13th general election is set to be a titanic clash. BN might win with a reduced majority or Pakatan might pull off an upset victory.

However, at a recent forum, a pro-Pakatan speaker gave a different perspective on how it could turn out. He said this general election would not be about one man, one vote; it would be about billions of ringgit. He said too much was at stake for BN, and, as such, it would not allow itself to be defeated, no matter what.

Given the claims by NGOs and Pakatan leaders that the electoral roll has been compromised by the presence of countless dubious voters; given the claims by some quarters that identity cards are being given out to foreigners on a massive scale so that they can vote; given that this illegal issuance of identity cards had found precedence in Sabah, according to the testimony given at the ongoing Royal Commission of Inquiry on that matter; and given the Election Commission’s questionable decision to apply the indelible ink on voters’ fingers before they mark their ballot papers instead of after, that speaker’s observation might well be true.

If this be so, the announcement of the final result of the 13th general election may not convince many that it was truly the decision of the Malaysian rakyat. That would be a sad day for democracy indeed. And we should hope it will not come to pass.

  1. #1 by chengho on Wednesday, 3 April 2013 - 10:33 pm

    Why so excited when Pas grassroot support quitely moving to BN , silly author guy Kee, no wonder NST cannot sell before

  2. #2 by rjbeee on Wednesday, 3 April 2013 - 11:00 pm

    All the best LKS, hope you get rid of the running dogs and traitors and his family..They have being ripping the country and still claim bumiputra not looked after. semua mahu..
    MaMAK TONGKANG your end is near…..

  3. #3 by cseng on Wednesday, 3 April 2013 - 11:36 pm

    All in all, i think money will eventually killed umno this general election. Like in GE 2008 many umno grassroot supportets sabotaged umno because they felt they did not get the fair share of election fund. This round, such situation get worse, simply, if this will be the last term for bn, will you distribute the money?

  4. #4 by cseng on Wednesday, 3 April 2013 - 11:52 pm

    Yes! Titanic Cash! Election with tag of billions…

    • #5 by kg on Thursday, 4 April 2013 - 6:30 pm

      Unfortunately chengho will not get any, that’s why he is making noise here, hoping to make CSL angry.

  5. #6 by monsterball on Thursday, 4 April 2013 - 4:34 am

    13th GE is do or die for freedom fighters.
    13th GE is to test the conscience of voters.
    13th GE is the best opportunity for voters to vote seriously with responsibilities to country and people.
    13th GE is like a war between Patriots and Traitors.
    13th GE gives People Power a chance to be most powerful and henceforth….be respected and recognized.
    13th GE gives People Power …a clear choice…freedom in a real democratic country……or be slaves and continue to survive…being selfish.

  6. #7 by Noble House on Thursday, 4 April 2013 - 4:58 am

    So long as the people are resolved, they will overcome and rule. Might alone is not enough to win any battle. History has proven that.

  7. #8 by boh-liao on Thursday, 4 April 2013 - 6:43 am

    Yes, finally GE13!
    Time 2 kick out sicko ‘politicians’ macam ini

  8. #9 by yhsiew on Thursday, 4 April 2013 - 6:50 am

    Titanic student? I was surprised when my student said this to me lately, “Sir, you are Lim Kit Siang’s fan, I am Lim Guan Eng’s fan!”

  9. #10 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Thursday, 4 April 2013 - 2:19 pm

    Agree with cseng’s comment #3.

    Yes money will eventually kill umno. All of umno’s tactics are aimed at umno’s own foot. Now it seems, umno has overdone the money politics thingy. Giving money to petronas employees etc is one massively wrong move. Ppl are upset, very upset.

  10. #11 by john on Thursday, 4 April 2013 - 3:31 pm

    Well written piece, well summed up.
    Foremost, to face and confront this Beast – the devil we know ( MaMak, C4-Bumno/bn), the CHEATINGS,,, all these FOREMOST G13 now.
    May the Pakatan Force Be with US now ! A B U !

  11. #12 by PR123 on Thursday, 4 April 2013 - 6:04 pm

    GE13, is a titanic struggle of power between leaders who desperately want to cling onto power by all means and leaders whom most voters will willingly give mandate to, and then evaluate their capabilities to govern.

    GE13, voters are a sophisticated lot, technology savvy and not easily duped. They want leaders with integrity, committed, dignified, capable, clean & trustworthy, not easily succumb to pressure and have a steadfast loyalty to the party they represent.

    We as Malaysians need reputable, respectful and resourceful leaders to bring our country to new great heights. Looking forward to celebrate Merdeka Rakyat with PAKATAN RAKYAT.

  12. #13 by Loh on Thursday, 4 April 2013 - 6:18 pm

    ///and given the Election Commission’s questionable decision to apply the indelible ink on voters’ fingers before they mark their ballot papers instead of after, that speaker’s observation might well be true.///–the author

    The ink is a proof that the person has voted, why should it be applied before the person marks his ballot paper? Having been marked the indelible ink a person might be denied the ballot paper, who is to settle the issue?

  13. #14 by good coolie on Thursday, 4 April 2013 - 11:13 pm

    At least we should make sure that the ink is applied to the finger after confirmation of name in the electoral list of that voting station.

  14. #15 by chengho on Friday, 5 April 2013 - 2:47 am

    the realpolitik is majority rule , minority has to accept democratic principal , the well being of the nation depend on what the majority want, you cannot impose your own brand of democracy

  15. #16 by on cheng on Saturday, 6 April 2013 - 1:31 pm

    First kris waver in public in Malaysia, and said kris will drink Chinese blood, year 1987 about ops lallang time, who??
    Want to vote for some one whose kris need to drink Chinese blood?

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