Archive for November 21st, 2013

The battle inside PAS – the issues

Bridget Welsh | 1:49PM Nov 20, 2013

COMMENT Malaysia’s Islamist party PAS heads to its 59th muktamar this week, electing its leadership once again as it does on a biannual basis.

The party’s elections have come under the microscope, with attention riveted on the heated contests between the ‘pro-ulama’ and ‘progressives’ or ‘Erdogan’ factions.

The decisions made at the muktamar this week will set the course for the opposition in the years ahead and determine whether the Islamist party will be able to bridge some of its internal divisions that played a major role in diminishing its electoral performance in the 13th general election (GE13), especially in Kedah, or continue on a path towards splintering itself and the hopes of a united national opposition.

To begin with, it is important to start with a caveat. PAS is the party in Malaysia that holds its party elections most frequently, for short two-year terms, and it has a record of reversing directions, with the pendulum swinging to both the more conservative and liberal directions.

This is to say that whatever happens in the muktamar is a reflection on ongoing trends and tensions within the party itself that are evolving and will evolve further, post-muktamar.
Read the rest of this entry »


The Zacharevic lesson all those in authority must learn – the greater the unreasonable pressure by those in power, the greater the righteous reaction by the public

The cut-out figures of the graffiti by Lithuanian-born street artist Ernest Zacharevic on “high crime” are not just a feature in Johor Baru but are being plastered in other parts of the country.

It is reported that such cut-outs are appearing in Kuala Lumpur and Rawang and very soon, undoubtedly, will be sighted all over the country.

This is a Zacharevic lesson that all those in authority must learn – that the greater the unreasonable pressure by those in power, the greater the righteous reaction by the public.

Zacharevic has the various authorities, in particular the Johor Baru City Council (MBJB) and the Johore State Government to thank for the fame he has acquired for his “high crime in JB” mural, not only in JB, Johore and in Malaysia and even world-wide in this information age of instant communication in a borderless world.
Read the rest of this entry »


A new battlefield for PAS: The campaign

By Bridget Welsh | 12:40PM Nov 21, 2013

As party elections go, PAS’ are usually among the most civil. In Umno, the mode has been behind the scene attacks, reminiscent of traditional court politics.

In PKR, the style is direct attacks, as personality politics is brought into the open. In DAP it is the more of a cold war, with limited discussion of differences but they persist, nevertheless.

Over the last decade, PAS’ party politics have changed too. The elections are no longer an internal affair, as they are analysed, assessed and scrutinised.

And in this party electoral campaign, the entire nature of the campaigning and choices have transformed. In fact, rather than a contest, it has become war.

As we try to understand the results of the polls in the next few days, it is useful to assess how the nature of campaigning in PAS has shifted and why.

New three Ms – medium, messaging, mobilisation

The most obvious difference in this campaign is the use of the social media. When the campaign started – arguably even before GE13, after the party’s 2011 election where the Erdogans won key leadership positions – the medium of choice has been Facebook.
Read the rest of this entry »

1 Comment

Malaysian media – watchdog or running dog?

New Mandala

If people use the mass media to inform themselves about their society and about the performance of their politicians, and if they use this information to direct their political choices and participation, then inadequate or inaccurate information is liable to result in misconceived political acts. (Street, 2001: 257)

Malaysia’s 13th General Election (GE13), held on the 5th of May 2013, was the continuation of a historical arc that begun at the 2008 general election (GE12), when the Barisan Nasional (BN), Malaysia’s ruling coalition for the past fifty-six years, lost the states of Penang and Selangor (and Perak temporarily) to the Opposition, as well as their coveted two-thirds Parliamentary majority. This was an unexpected shock to the system that immediately plunged Malaysia into an anticipatory political fervour. After 5 years of delays, civil unrest, and an increasingly unified opposition, with their term stretched to the far edge of expiration (and several state assemblies pushed beyond this point), BN failed to counter Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) message of ‘Ini Kali Lah!’, returning their worst result ever. The BN not only failed to recover a two-thirds majority in Parliament but lost the popular vote for the first time, with only 47.38% support compared to PR’s 50.87%.

The anticipation and tension leading up to and extending beyond GE13 (with widespread accusations of electoral fraud and BN retaining power through systemic gerrymandering and malapportionment), was apparent not just within civil society but also within academia, surely going down as not just the most anticipated but the most researched election in Malaysian history. Non-governmental organisations, too, were on high alert, with extensive scrutiny of electoral processes and authorities. One of the main areas of interest and contention in political, academic, activist, and civil society alike was that of media bias.
Read the rest of this entry »