Turbulent Skies Ahead

Posted by M ws On Sunday, May 12, 2013 1 comments

Turbulent Skies Ahead by Stephen Tan Ban Cheng*

Wonders never cease. At 3.29am on Sunday, April May (corrected thanks to Gem) 6, according to Malaysiakini. the Malaysian GE13 results gave the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN, or National Front) Government 133 seats, 15 short of the two-thirds majority of 148 seats it pursued.

The results also actually awarded the Opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR, or People’s Alliance) 89 seats in Parliament, or slightly more than seven seats the Opposition PR won in 2008, made up of Democratic Action Party (or DAP)’s 38, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (or PKR)’s 30 and Parti Islam (or PAS)’s 21 seats.

The results saw the Opposition PR’s control of the rice bowl state of Kedah reverting to the BN with 21 seats in the State legislature of 36, the Opposition PR retaining only 15.

With a fresh mandate of five years, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak is expected to consolidate his grip on power since unlike his predecessor Tun Abdullah Badawi, he had used this election to inject his core group of supporters into the next Parliament.

The results of GE13 saw the virtual eclipse of the BN’s components parties such as the Malaysian Chinese Association (or MCA), the Malaysian Indians Congress (or MIC), the Malaysian People’s Movement (or Gerakan) and the People’s Progressive Party (or PPP) in Peninsular Malaysia and the Sarawak United People’s Party (or SUPP) in Sarawak. 

For these parties and their leaders, it is crystal clear that unless major and drastic adjustments are made in the power-sharing coalition to give it more substance than style, their continued corroboration with Prime Minister’s BN trend-setting United Malays National Organisation (or Umno) may well prove to be an embrace of certain death.

At first glance, it would appear as though the performance of the Opposition PR in the State administration of Kedah led by Parti Islam (or PAS) has been found wanting. A scrutiny of the electoral result at the federal level in the State seems to confirm this.

In the State of Kedah alone, PAS lost the five parliamentary seats of Pendang, Jerai, Padang Terap, Sik and Baling while its component PR party Pakatan Keadilan lost two parliamentary seats of Kulim-Bandar Baru and Merbok.

The loss of these seven seats in the hitherto 15 seats that the Opposition PR conceded in GE13 represented almost half of its reverses.

Nationally, the Opposition PR picked up 21 parliamentary seats, but lost in the said 15 constituencies, making a gain of only seven seats in Parliament.

The main gainer seems to be the Opposition PR component party, the Democratic Action Party (or DAP) which not only successfully defended all its parliamentary seats, but gained 10 extra ones in Sarawak’s four seats of Stampin, Sarikei, Lanang, and Sibu, Johore’s three seats of Kluang, Gelang Patah, and Batu Pahat, solitary seats in Perak’s Kampar, Pahang’s Raub and Sabah’s Sandakan. 

PKR, comparatively, chalked up six fresh victories in the solitary seats of Sarawak’s Miri, Perak’s Lumut, Sabah’s Penampang, Malacca’s Bukit Katil, Kedah’s Alor Setar and the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur’s Pandan after losing eight of its incumbent seats, making a marginal gain of just one seat. 

PKR failed to defend its eight existing seats of Machang, Ketereh and Tanah Merah in Kelantan, Merbok and Kulim-Bandar Baru in Kedah, Balik Pulau in Penang, Bagan Serai in Perak, Hulu Selangor in Selangor. PKR’s loss of the three seats in Kelantan may well be attributed to the technical failure in the combined PKR-PAS machinery. 

On the face of it, within the Opposition PR, PAS lost seven parliamentary seats but gained five in Terengganu’s Kuala Terengganu, Dungun and Kuala Nerus and solitary ones in Pahang’s Temerloh and Selangor’s Sepang, returning with a loss of two seats.

In the heated aftermath of GE13, the MCA leader, the scandal-stained Dr Chua Soi Lek, has said the MCA would not take part in the new Malaysian Government. This is expected to complicate the tasks of governing for Prime Minister Najib who has to somehow convince the electorate that all are represented within his regime.

Another immediate problem that will confront Najib is PR leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s announced challenge over the entire electoral result. 

Anwar, a former Deputy Prime Minister in the 1990s before he was jailed for six years on what is popularly perceived to be trumped-up charges, is expected to prove problematical and formidable unless the olive branch of national reconciliation that Najib has offered is set in place before the deep electoral wounds turn toxic.

In the foreseeable future, since the Election Courts are popularly seen to be unable to offer any redresses to the popularly conceived electoral process, it will not be surprising that this challenge takes the form of popular demonstrations, thus turning into a herculean task the governing of this country of nearly 30 million and a few million of foreign workers.

This is all the more so when it is considered that initial reports from the Malaysian Insider stated that the BN might have lost the popular vote in GE13 despite bagging the majority of the 222 seats in Parliament.

According to the report, the BN polled 5.220 million votes or 48.75 per cent against the PR’s 5.489 million or 51.25 per cent, the negative 1.25 per cent translating into a deficit of 269,130 ballots. This data have yet to be confirmed by the Election Commission. In 2008, the BN polled 4.082 million votes or 51.82 per cent compared to the Opposition’s 3.796 million or 48.18 per cent. 

* Stephen Tan is a journalist with international experience. He is today a New Zealand-trained lawyer with his small boutique practice in his hometown of Penang.

Thanks to Stephen Tan for giving me his permission to share this in my blog.

Readers are welcome to share their thoughts with me. Just send it to writetomws at hush dot ai.

1 comments to Turbulent Skies Ahead

  1. says:

    Gem Err... Sunday April 6? Election day was May 5, results came out in April? My brain is tied up in knots.

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