Tuesday, May 12, 2015

What's happening to Malaysia

The political scene of Malaysia and its final outcome is being followed closely by domestic and foreign political  observers and pundits. Never in the country's history has there been such intense polemics and uncertainty on the sustainability of the government. The norm is after the government has been formed, it will move on with its responsibility of governing.

At the same time within the BN they expressed surprise at how the party could reduce its majority and  clamour for a postmortem of the GE13 to know the reasons. To outsiders it was obvious that the component parties on the whole particularly in Peninsular Malaysia did not have the acceptance of the Chinese and urban voters. Nothing unusual about that. Its not only UMNO that has to change but the component parties need to carry out some soul searching reforms of themselves.

Coming out of this dismal performance there were some intelligent and some funny speculations and responses on what should be the next cause of action the leadership should take. After all the BN had presented a very attractive manifesto promising all kinds of things if it got back to power. Additionally BN spent a lot of money in the election campaign to regain the support of the voters particularly the Chinese but failed. During the election campaign Najib's advisors have also interestingly asked him to adopt the election strategy of a Presidential election akin to that of Obama. In their view Najib is more popular and acceptable than UMNO or BN. In short they considered his aura and personality would carry the party to victory. Of course this did not happen.

Unfortunately while this works in the UMNO areas but it did not alter the Chinese and urban voters who already decided they wanted change. Immediately after the election result he publicly said that the Chinese voters had betrayed BN. This announcement did not go down well with the Chinese voters. This is now in the pages of history. The MCA with such dismal performance decided to stay out of the government but came back later on the persuasion of Najib.

Thus although the overall total seats obtained by BN was less than the votes or seats obtained in the 12th GE Najib decided to stay on as leader of the government and party. Some political observers and pundits thought Najib should make way for his deputy to take over the helm of leadership in the party and government as was the case with his predecessor. Najib was said to be involved in cleverly manoeuvring his predecessor's exit. However Najib ensured this forced exit did not happen to him. He thus quickly ganered the support of the BN Members of Parliament including those from Sabah and Sarawak. For this support he rewarded the leaders of both States well by appointing many of them into his Cabinet.

It must be remembered prior to this he also made sure that all the MPs elected are his men and loyalists. In this way his leadership of the government was well secured.The rationale for him to pass the baton of leadership to his number two did not arise. Futhermore having the support from the Sarawak and Sabah MP's Najib's position at the helm of the government could not be challenged Therefore any possible dissent or request for him to step down was totally silenced. Again this was another clever political manoeuvring by Najib. Unfortunate for Najib many of his political advisors, who stood for election did not win their seats.

Two years down the road of the GE the clamour for him to go came back to the centre stage from within and outside the party. This time the voice is louder and stronger and made worst by many unwise and unpopular policies and public statements issued or made by his Cabinet colleagues. Additionally there were all kinds of stories and scandals were exposed particularly by the social media affecting the image and credibility of the government.This pressure comes also from his icon Tun Mahathir and those close to him. The social media was at the forefront of the strong criticisms and open campaign asking him to go. This time it was not merely on the scandals but also on his economic policies and personal lifestyle. Tun M.for the first time dragged into the foray the conspicious ostentatious lifestyle of the PM's wife, his relationship with Jho Low and the high debt position of 1MDB. This was made worst by the implementation of the GST and the inconsistencies of his thegiven ' explanation to the public which created enormous public displeasure. This time around it could be seen he is just hanging by the tooth and nail. His own team made contradictory statements that are inconsistent with the principle of collective responsibility as members of the Cabinet. There is a lot of political shadow boxing within the party and government.

On the other side Tun Mahathir and his supporters have stepped up their campaign to remove him. Without being apologetic he openly goes around to demand for Najib  to resign. The groundswell for Mahathir's call is getting stronger and bigger. Whether Najib would be able to withstand this onslaught is for everyone to wait and see. It had rattled him but he made a defiant statement that he would not step down at the call of Mahathir since the people has given him the mandate to lead the country. Definitely what is happening has caused what Tun Musa referred to this state of affair as imploding the country which made the political environment and the government business directionless.

There seem to be counter move against Tun M and his former Ministers like Daim and Zainudin Maidin. This made the spat between Tun M and Najib to become more serious and vicious. The public  likes all these to end one way or another to move on with their daily life. Tun Mahathir on records never like to loose a war or a battle. The country is going to continue hearing his criticisms of Najib and demanding him to step down in favor of Mahyuddin. This puts Mahyuddin on the spot whether to remain loyal to Najib or take the cue from Mahathir to force his boss to quit. This state of neither here nor there cannot go on for long. Yesterday's Supreme Council meeting seems to bring back calmness to the government and party. The dust has settled on the ground. It is important that new controversies do not keep on surfacing. Najib and Mahyuddin including party and government leaders must not at least in public be perceived to have differences which could cause the public to loose confidence and trust on the keadership of the  party and government.

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