Malaysia's Election-Surveying the Aftermath
Well, well, well, who would have thought it? Not in my wildest dreams that is for sure. Lots of thoughts are swirling in my mind, stopping me from doing any work, so I thought I better get some off my chest (or mind as it may be).
1. Is this the start of a genuine opposition at a national level?
Not since the Barisan Sosialis has there been a concerted national level opposition, and even then it did not include the depth and breadth of this one. But is it sustainable? In a sense, yes, because Pandora's Box has been unleashed. A psychological barrier (the 2/3rds majority and fall of key states) has been breached. As well. PKR has successfully established itself as a bulwark between PAS and DAP, a conundrum for the opposition since the days of Semangat 46. But perhaps more importantly, the opposition now has the resources of state across the western coast of Peninsular Malaysia, including the rich, educated and industrialised states of Selangor, Perak and Penang. State authority can act as a bulwark against the federal government, as PAS in Kelantan and PBS in Sabah showed. PAS has yet to be defeated since re-attaining power, and contrary to historical revisionism, PBS never lost to the BN in all the elections between 1985-94, and were undone only by the katak phenomenon.
2. Can the opposition govern effectively in their states?
Ultimately, this issue will decide if the first issue occurs. I am optimistic, if only because the opposition is well aware of their golden opportunity. As well, they have, in their desperation to being elected, gone to the masses as never before via the internet no less, and hence are going to be held to account by the people. If they fail, the people will probably despondently return to the devil they already know. PKR is essential in this process, being the bulwark of DAP-PAS antagonisms. Realpolitik has already set in, which is no bad thing in itself in establishing themselves. As I understand it, the Menteri Besar of Selangor will be a Malay, while the PAS Menteri Besar of Kedah has stated that while they will look at Kelantan, they will chart their own course. In the former DAP is being sensible, and in the latter PAS is being realistic. All of PKR, DAP and PAS understand full-well that they require each other's support base.
3. What will UMNO do?
For one thing let's not forget who won the election. It only seems like a defeat, but will become one if they don't shake themselves off the ground. Parallels with India and Japan are striking-in both cases the Congress and LDP ruled unchallenged for a long time, then grew complacent and the opposition made headway-in both cases both parties did not respond well and eventually lost office. However, a combination of re-generation and failure of the new governments have brought tham back into power. Which way UMNO goes depends on how they respond. In this sense, if Badawi remains PM only till the next UMNO election, the change and regeneration may well be orderly-otherwise there will be political bloodshed. In any case, I have always found UMNO a pragmatic organisation-watch them backtrack from their increasingly extreme form of Malay nationalism (Hishamuddin-put that keris down, my man!)
4. What will MCA and MIC do?
God knows-but their policy of acquiescense of UMNO's Malay nationalist agenda has cost them dear. MIC for one, seems doomed, if only because Samy Vellu's dictatorial regime destroyed the party's dynamics to serve his whims and fancies. MCA is a good welfare organisation-perhaps it should become an NGO!
5. Will Sabah & Sarawak finally get their due?
The dynamics of politics in East M'sia is vastly different than on the peninsular, and I won't go into it here but years of imperialism forced upon Sabah in particular by federal authorities can now be halted-KL needs us, but will our politicians have the guts to demand power? I find the Sarawak politicians very savvy-my problem lies with the decision makers in Sabah BN-will they have the guts to fight for our rights and re-introduce the 20 Points? I doubt it.
6. Is this the first election in the world to be decided by the internet?
There will be many Ph.Ds written on this topic, and Malaysia will, in many cases, be a case study. The opposition swooped on this media like never before, and totally outmanouvred the government; ironic when one considers how the government championed the internet. Careful what you wish for boys!