A tectonic shift

— Jamil Maidan Flores
The Malaysian Insider
May 20, 2013

MAY 20 — After the 13th general election in Malaysia recently, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak grumbled about a “Chinese tsunami” that barged against his Barisan Nasional coalition, leaving it with only 47 per cent of the popular vote. Barisan Nasional has a Chinese component, the MCA, but the Chinese vote went heavily to the opposition Pakatan Rakyat, a three-party coalition led by former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Still, thanks to the gerrymandering of rural constituencies and to the huge perks of incumbency, Barisan Nasional won 133 of 222 parliamentary seats at stake and retained power. Najib remains prime minister.

So why is he grousing about a Chinese tsunami? I think it’s because he has felt a tectonic shift — in this case a tectonic shift in the political mood of Malaysia. It well may be that Malaysian politics will never be the same again. That doesn’t bode well for the Barisan Nasional, or for Najib himself.

Perhaps it’s a comeuppance. There were numerous reports of shenanigans attributed to the ruling coalition. Of flying voters. Of immigrants in Sabah who were given identity cards on condition they would vote for the ruling coalition. Of padded voters’ lists. Of people long dead who were able to vote. Of the Barisan Nasional campaign doling out a total of US$2.5 billion (RM7.5 billion) to poor voters, and resorting to other forms of subsidy schemes.

If these reports are true, and the evidence is piling up that they’re accurate, then there’s nothing that the local politicians of the Philippines, past masters of election fraud, can teach their Malaysian counterparts. However, to the credit of the Malaysian politicos, although there were some accounts of violence, there wasn’t a single shooting throughout the campaign.

As for the tsunami, it wasn’t Chinese. True, most Chinese Malaysians are sick and tired of the discrimination they’ve suffered over four decades. It rankles that they don’t have equal rights in business, in the civil service and in education. They clamour for a Malaysia that is a meritocracy like next-door Singapore. But there aren’t enough Chinese voters to raise a tsunami.

The tsunami was Malaysian — Muslim Malay and Chinese and Indian Malaysian. Urban, young and idealistic Malaysian. It had nothing to do with ethnicity. It had everything to do with a thirst for change. They’re through with divisive racial politics. They want an end to corruption and cronyism. They want to unleash the potential of a richly diverse Malaysian nation.

Once again, Anwar has failed to win the prime ministership, but he has led Malaysian politics out of the wilderness — and that should be enough for now. He won’t rest, however. Insisting the elections had been stolen from Pakatan Rakyat, he is leading public protests reminiscent of Cory Aquino’s civil disobedience campaign in the Philippines after she thought Ferdinand Marcos had robbed her of the presidential election in 1986.

Aquino’s protest movement led to regime change only because it merged with a military coup. For a people power revolution to succeed it must be supported by a sizeable part of the military, or else the entire military must stay neutral. That won’t happen in Malaysia. But national politics will continue to change. Meanwhile, the Najib government will try to rule with a weak and questioned mandate. It will have to cope with the divisions it has largely created, economic problems from exorbitant election spending, and extravagant promises impossible to keep.

Najib himself is politically wounded. His rivals in the ruling party, the Umno, smell blood. That’s a pity because among party eminences, he is the one who has a streak of the reformist in him. To survive, Umno must undergo sweeping and painful reform to match the shifting mood of Malaysian politics. Otherwise, the election this month was its last hurrah. — thejakartaglobe.com

  1. #1 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 - 8:59 am

    So jib spent millions, no hundreds of millions perhaps billions, in GE13 to buy voters’ loyalty and ballot. With the money, he even got a large number of ghost voters of bangla origin to balance the ballot numbers in his (i.e. umno’s) favour.

    Did it work? Sure it did. Based on several pre-GE13 surveys and widespread ground sentiments, umno is almost certain to be booted out – perhaps even wiped out. So in effect jib has successfully moved his position from a sure loss to a narrower-than-308 victory.

    But jib encountered a large cohesive block of chinese voters who absolutely refused to be moved by jib’s cheatings and money. He was felt frustrated by their resolute stand. His public outcry (of the now infamous “chinese tsunami”) was indeed a very poor and inappropriate – and in fact wrong – response to what is really his own failure to cheat and bribe the chinese voters.

    Hey cintanegara, your rambutans are no longer needed. But i feel jib may be in need of some drips. So chengho can you get jib some underground NY longkang water for jib to drip drip drip ah?

  2. #2 by patriotmalaysian on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 - 9:09 am

    People get smarter everyday. How can MCA afford to have a pornstar to be their president. Action speak louder than words. The GE 13 is not a chinese tsumani, its a malaysian tsumani that go against the corrupted govt’s. Why the govt’s always like blame on the chinese and make them a scapegoat. When the govt’s blame on the chinese tsumani, did the MCA leaders say anything. What is MCA good for… to help the corrupted govt’s to cheat more from the people at the sametime enrich themselves.

    If the MCA party’s is sincere to help the chinese, they won t be voted out. For the past 56 years, these bunch of donkies only think about their own pocket first. Untill today, they still want to threaten the chinese for not holding any govt’s post. What important minister posts they are holding?

  3. #3 by lee tai king (previously dagen) on Tuesday, 21 May 2013 - 1:35 pm

    Cabinet representation? By who? MCA – those useless idiots? If so then might as well rely on parliamentary representation by DAP. Makes much better sense.

  4. #4 by Winston on Wednesday, 22 May 2013 - 11:20 am

    The last bastion left for the opposition to tackle will be to change the mindset of the civil service personnel, the police and the armed forces.
    They should be made aware that a corrupt government bodes evil for everyone, include civil servants!
    And one of the main products of corruption is the bankruptcy of the country!
    Then the fun begins because the first to be affected will be the those in the civil service and the armed forces!!!
    Then there will be complete chaos when these personnel refuse to work because of no pay!
    Then they will be the first to join the others in demanding a change of government!!
    The opposition can also show them why a fair, clean and equitable government will work wonders for all citizenry in this country.
    And preempt the bankruptcy of Malaysia.

  5. #5 by Just DAP on Thursday, 23 May 2013 - 12:34 am

    No strong wind, no heavy rain, how to get tsunami. It was back fire! MCA, MIC, Gerakan were burnt. GE14, more will get burn. Fengsui transformation….

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