Post-BN Malaysia: A Land of Milk and Honey?

If one takes a heroic leap of faith and assumes that within days a new post-BN government will be formed, then innumerable conjectures arise. Allow me to pen a few thoughts of my own on this matter.

*Pakatan Rakyat has promised to hold elections soon after taking over power (6-12 months), at least once it has managed to repeal 'evil' laws such as the Sedition Act and our infamous ISA. Of all PR promises, this is the one I worry about the most-once in power with the help of all the frogs, what on earth would possess Anwar and his people to call snap elections, especially if this means that he, Awang Hadi and Lim Kit Siang have to tell members of their party to not challenge the frogs in their constituencies? Lest we forget, a lot of these frogs will have plenty of skeletons in their closet (well, so does Anwar...). I fail to see why they would jump in the first place if they would have to face re-election very soon after jumping anyway. Better stay with BN and enjoy 5 more years of easy money, swindling the people.

*Forgiving the swindling of the people. These frogs are not jumping out of the goodness of their hearts. It may well be the case that they feel BN will collapse anyway and the early frogs will get whatever it is that frogs eat sans Sabah 1994. First come, first serve. The incentives to jump must be simple-prime among them that the new government turn a blind eye to their past misdeeds. Maybe that is a price worth paying (though I think not) but what worries me more is an implicit understanding that the man with the famous black eye will continue to turn a blind eye for future swindling, especially if it guarantees East M'sian seats. Hopefully PKR won't have to change the design of their logo from an open to a closed eye...

The Machiavellian Anwar is perfectly capable of doing this if it means achieving power-once in power and faced with tough decisions (which he bottled when he was both education & finance minister) and in need of support from MPs he will certainly cut whatever deal is deemed necessary to keep him in power.

*The fracturing of the Pakatan Rakyat. Inasmuch as the PR leadership seem to suggest that theirs is a strong coalition, the proof will be in the pudding. Once the devil is defeated, the common cause (i.e. get rid of the BN government) is also gone. PAS & DAP in particular, will almost certainly come to political blows-the role of PKR will be instrumental here, as will be the hotchpot of East M'sian politicians who seem more likely to be in parties other than these 3 PR parties. In this regard, I hope the new BN opposition is a strong one. If definitely would be if PAS quits in a huff and joins up with them. I will be neither surprised nor dissapointed if that occurs because we need (a) a government that is not too disparate in the policies of their constituent parties (PKR & DAP are closer than PAS in this regard) and (b) a strong, principled party in opposition.

*Citizen dissatisfaction will arise due to a lack of structural change. Promises have been made; how many can be kept? Governing is tough, and compromises will have to be made. As long as the system remains largely unchanged, the people will be dissatisfied. The initial euphoria of new governance, the abolition of draconian legislation etc... will be quickly tempered by everyday realities as the people realise that global economic conditions render the government limited in their response to adverse economic shocks, and that some promises turn out to be 'non-core' promises that can be forgotten or postponed till later (but later, of course never comes...). Yes BN was bad, but apparently a significant amount of poor economic outcomes was due to external, and not internal pressures. And all those promises...well, that was before we knew the true state of our finances/before we knew that syariah courts still override non-Muslim rights/before we knew that secular courts could override syariah courts/before we knew how many dangerous terrorists populated Malaysia/before we knew that our promises on equality actually contravened the constitution...blah, blah, blah...

Abolishing the NEP will dissatisfy some Malays, especially if the MEA takes time to bear fruit, or is poorly implemented.If the MEA is slowly initiated, the non-Malays will complain. Race politics will probably still be important-which one of the 5 DPMs will take over as PM? Will the Malay states still insist that the Menteri Besar be a Malay-Muslim? Will meritocracy be implemented in schools and in the public service (at least to the extent that does not disadvantage agreements made upon the formation of the country)? Will Sabah and Sarawak be allowed to declare that Islam is not their state religion (as in the 20 Points agreement)?

*It's the economy stupid!!! BN collapsed because post-1997 crisis it never quite managed to get to grips with a post-strong economic growth situation. There was not enough money left to share among the umnoputeras, everyday bumiputeras and everyday non-bumiputeras. The pie shrunk and this caused dissatisfaction. All the window dressing in the world (e.g. feelgood measures like abolishing the ISA) will not paper over the cracks of a weaker than usual economy that fails to uplift the standard of EVERYONE in the country. Yet if increasing growth means abandoning the precepts of the NEP too quickly without adequate reassurances or compensation (which seems quite likely) Malay support will quickly diminish (I am too realistic to believe that racial politics will disappear overnight). Let us not forget that it is they who will be sacrificing for the greater good-it is not easy to give up privileges and I often wonder if other groups would be generous enough to concede the same privileges as the Malays now seem wont to do.

*The citizenry must keep fighting for freedom and justice. Pakatan Rakyat is just a vehicle to achieve us these goals. Power corrupts and we must keep guarding our freedoms jealously. Very many will feel the job is done when Anwar takes the oath of office-we must not be so idealistic. The battle for freedom, accountability and justice must continues irrespective of who is in charge, especially when the system will remain largely unchanged.

So....not so rosy a picture I'm afraid, once all the bluster and initial optimism disappears. But at least the fascist dogs are gone (for now anyway)....

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