March 9th, 2008

Malaysia Election surprises!

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Malaysia 12th election ended last night. I stayed up until 3am refreshing Malaysiakini (mirror) watching the election unfolded.

While BN still remains in control, it suffered the biggest lost ever, garnering merely 61% of the seats (source). The last time the election come this close in 1969, it resulted in a major racial riots. Jeff Ooi, the popular blogger who did won the Penang seat (congratulations my friend :-), called upon all supporters to remain calm so not to give anyone any excuse for riot.

UMNO may be surprised at the result but the writing is on the wall many months ago. Pak Lah was a popular PM when he took over Dr. Mahathir in 2003. He led a landslide victory for BN in 2004, 90% seats, the highest ever.

His slow and steady approach handling matters is a refreshing change for Malaysians but after the first two years of “honeymoon”, many Malaysians have called for results (around 2006). Promises of more developments, opportunities, less red-tapes, and fighting corruptions has nothing to show for. Instead, Malaysians got murder, sex and corruptions scandals.

The V.K Lingam Video is a prime example of what went wrong in Malaysia. When questioned by the Royal Commission, former Chief Justice Eusoff Chin strongly denied that V.K Lingnam and his family arranged the New Zealand vacation together. Even with evidences of receipt and acknowledgment from travel agency, he insist they merely chance upon each another when they are in New Zealand. A while later, the ex-secretary of Lingnam testified “I arranged Kiwi trip”.

Scandals happens. What is more important is how people behave when it happens. Here is a formerly Chief Justice and a top lawyer who potentially lied in front of a Royal Commission and they think can get away with it.

Furthermore, as UMNO fights against PAS, a more radical Islamic party, over support from the Malay/Islam voters, UMNO has taken a more radical stand in many issues, that alienate the non-Malays and more importantly the majority of the moderates Malays. Ironically, PAS become more moderate in the process.

At the height of the racial tension over Article 11 (religious freedom) in 2006, a keris (a Malay sword/dagger) was brandish at a political gathering yelling “defend Malay rights”. Obviously thats going to make non-Malays uneasy. Many remembered the racial riot and killings in 1969. The keris was brandish again a year with a statement that pretty much say “deal with it, sucker!”. Maybe you can do these if you are an uneducated street hooligan but not when you are the Chief of the Youth UMNO (see Keris Controversy)

Race is a dangerous card to play. You play with fire, you will lose.

The result of this election is a clear message to the BN, the ruling coalition, that Malaysians have enough!

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