The political game

Undoubtedly, the government system needs change. The opposition’s threat is real, and deep dissatisfaction with traditional policies is spreading. The 1999 elections, interpreted as a referendum for or against Mahathir’s controversial leadership, were unexpectedly a success for the Alternative Front, which doubled its seats – winning the majority in parliament in two states of the Federation.
A wave of arrests rolled across the country and further legal action was taken against the opposition leader, Anwar Ibrahim, who had previously been acquitted, after a long struggle, against sodomy charges. Many hold the opinion that these were “politically-motivated.”
For the first time in fifty years, the massive demonstrations ahead of the March 2008 elections hindered the Umno party, the ruling party that has been at the centre of the country’s political life since independence. It barely kept the majority. There were more tensions ahead of the 2013 elections. Razak led many demonstrations against the majority and the government. These were hampered by censorship laws and by the police.  The May 5 election, held to renew the Parliament and state assemblies, clearly showed a desire for change, tenacious attachment to power, and … tensions.
Prime Minister Najib Razak, who had warned against severe impacts on the market and on the currency, the Ringgit, in case the opposition won, once again played the Malay nationalist card. He also focused on the religious factor and appealed to the fear of new situations.
dos6Nevertheless, on May 5 about 11 million of the 13 million voters cast ballots for a record turnout of 84.84 per cent. The vote gave the BN (Barisan Nasional) a majority in parliament with 133 seats out of 222. 89 went to the Pakatan Rakyat group. The group comprises the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), with 30 seats, the Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS), the only large confessional party with 21 parliamentarians, and the Democratic Action Party (DAP), a lay party with a significant representation of minorities, that won 38 seats. Overall, in state assemblies, 275 seats were assigned to the BN and 230 to the opposition coalition (49 to PKR, 86 to PAS, and 95 to DAP).
Anwar Ibrahim, the charismatic leader of the Party Keadilan Rakyat and opposition leader, called the Malaysian vote the “mother of all frauds,” and accused the EC (Electoral Commission) of bias.
According to the opposition leader, the EC’s approval of the election results caused distrust among people with regard to an “unqualified and unfit government,” justifying citizens’ demand to control government initiatives, and the need to make it fall soon by taking advantage of its contradictions.
Two days after the results of the vote went public, 50 thousand supporters walked to the stadium to listen to a speech by Anwar Ibrahim, despite a lack of permission. Mass street demonstrations have become frequent of late.
dos8The opposition will have another five years to reflect on the election result and on its ingenuity. In the meantime, the country cannot fail to consider the verdict of the polls. The Barisan’s victory was apparently clear, however, the ruling alliance has a lot of work to do to justify its return to power.
The Umno alone won 89 seats out of the 133 gained by a 13-party coalition, which lacks a relevant and powerful Chinese ethnic group, and with a reduced number of Malaysian Muslims.
The biggest winner was the DAP, which began what Najib has called the “Chinese tsunami,” a withdrawal of Chinese voters from Barisan Nasional, making the two Barisan Chinese parties, the MCA (Malaysian Chinese Association) and Gerekan, almost totally collapse.
Policies, on paper, aimed at promoting equality, turned out, instead, to be racially motivated development policies in favour of Malay people, characterised by rooted corruption and nepotism. Opposition to decades of policies of this sort was never as clear and determined as at the last general election campaign. Analysis of the election results has shown not only that the Chinese community is rejecting government policies, but has also highlighted an embarrassment for all Malaysians. Furthermore, the latest ballot results showed a substantial change in urban and middle class voters, pointing to a widening gap between urban and rural realities. (S.V.)


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