Although it is a long way to the next elections, the current developments we are seeing will, in my opinion, be decisive in shaping the outcome and winner of the next elections. Firstly, we have seen a lot of adverse publicity given to the break up of the Pakatan.
Pro-BN observers and also some disillusioned opposition supporters are claiming this is dealing a death blow to the opposition’s election hopes. But is this so? I beg to differ from them.
What is happening to the Pakatan is actually a blessing in disguise for them. In fact, it is a big blessing. This is because if we look at the political configuration closely, it is not that the opposition coalition is breaking up. It is the hard line faction of Pas that is splitting from the rest of the Pakatan. This faction wants to chart a future for the country based on Islamic law and a more rigid Islamic state. But can they succeed?
Well, despite the conservative candidates sweeping all the leadership positions in the recent Pas elections, deep down I am sure that they realize that they represent only a minority of the Malay Muslim population. My reading is that the majority of Muslims do not want a more fundamentalist Islamic society. They may have concerns about some aspects of modern life and western values. But even the less educated among them know what has been happening in fundamentalist Islamic nations.
All Islamic Nations are getting worse: How can religious preachers rule?
Without any exception, all the Muslims in Syria, Yemen, Iran, Iraq etc are killing one and other. These Islamic states have all gone downhill; their economies have gone kaput; their educated and best people have migrated and the ordinary people and middle class have suffered most. In this 21stcentury, how can you have preachers and religious interpreters of a holy book written many centuries ago run a government based on their interpretation of the Koran?
Can these ulama claim that that they are the right people to lead the country when it is clear that they are only fit to lead religious ceremonies and institutions, and no more? They may be able to fool some uneducated rural communities but not the majority of Malaysians.
So with the belated departure of the ulama faction what has remained in the opposition now is the core DAP and PKR parties which are united by their moderate, secular and pro-rakyat common policy platform. This platform – which I should point out was supported by more than half the country’s electorate during the last elections – only needs a bit of refining for it to convince Malaysians that they are voting for the right party committed to modern development, justice and good governance.
No need for the two core parties to reinvent the wheel. There should be no religious content in it, no religious salesmanship or one-upmanship needed! No need to devote any attention to hudud. Just keep cool and let Pas and UMNO battle it out on the hudud and Islamic state issue in the next elections.
I am especially encouraged and excited by the prospect of a breakaway group of Pas moderates linking up with the opposition. This is a development that I have advocated and written about on several occasions. Pas moderates presently in Parliament have an impeccable track record of service. If they contest in the next elections under a new Islamic party or as part of a re-engineered Pakatan, I am sure that they will be returned with greater majorities.
It is not only Pas breakaway groups that will help break the BN monopoly of power. The potential for a larger opposition win exists because of what is happening in Sabah and Sarawak. In those states Najib and Barisan are scrambling to undo the harm caused by BN misrule and UMNO colonialism of the two states. Treated like step children in the past, swarmed by hundreds of thousands of foreign migrants as a result of Dr. Mahathir’s ‘close two eyes’ immigration policy, exploited of their natural wealth, I predict that the electorate in East Malaysia will deal the death blow to the BN.
Why do I say this? I know that Najib is throwing hundreds of million – some say, billions – of ringgit in the direction of East Malaysia in an effort to make up for the BN’s past sins. But I am confident that the young generation of voters know that as long as UMNO calls the shot in national politics, their future will never improve.
Ketuanan Melayu and ketuanan Islam will mean that East Malaysians and their livelihoods, culture, language and religion will always have to take second place and they will be provided with inferior positions and resources. Just look at the latest Malaysia Plan and budget.
UMNO’s dominance of Barisan will mean that however good the East Malaysian is, an UMNO sponsored or affiliated candidate – in school, university, employment, government service, private sector – will always be top dog. East Malaysians will be left the crumbs after UMNO and its East Malaysia collaborators such as former Sarawak Chief Minister Taib have creamed off billions of ringgit.
Barisan’s Death Spiral
Even if it is argued that the opposition is in bad shape, the BN is in far worse shape. It is in a downward death spiral from which I can see no recovery. The Mahathir-Najib power struggle has exposed so much dirt which is being disseminated through the BN – not the opposition – mass media! This dirt can be used by the opposition as ammunition for the next elections.
Meanwhile the 1MDB financial scandal and GST imposition have made ordinary people see clearly the direct connection between their rising cost of living and the BN Government’s mismanagement, abuses and stupidity. Come election day we can be sure that there is no way the Barisan Government can bring down the price of essential goods, food and utilities.
Everything has gone up since the GST was introduced and the falling ringgit has made it even worse. The falling ringgit and higher cost of living have been blamed by Dr. Mahathir on Najib’s bad economic policies. But according to Bank Negara it is because of Dr. Mahathir’s big mouth. I am sure that ordinary Malaysians know that it has been a combination of Dr. Mahathir’s and Dato Seri Najib’s leadership and Barisan misgovernance that accounts for why the rakyat are suffering.
I predict the next elections will see the voters punish the BN by giving them their worst defeat ever.