Thursday, October 22, 2009

How Things Have and Have Not Changed

Further to the March 8 elections, leading to the anti-climax on Sept 16 last year, things were looking good for Pakatan Rakyat, where we also saw Pakatan winning most by-elections and it’s leader Anwar Ibrahim, returning to Parliament. There also appeared to be too much of politics in the country leading to Sept 16.

Pakatan Rakyat as a whole was also in their element by setting up state governments in 5 states and handing out freebies while Barisan Nasional were in the brink of collapse, especially UMNO, while MCA took the opportunity to renew itself by the way of Ong Kah Ting not seeking another term. MIC became irrelevant with it’s leader going on a mission to re-brand the grand old party. MIC should have been renamed Samy Vellu & Family Party as part of the re-branding exercise.

One year later, we are seeing the situation reversed. BN’s win in Bagan Pinang brought back some cheer to Barisan, though it can be solely attributed to Isa long service to the constituency, more than a reflection of support for BN. It can be also said that Pakatan Rakyat was also disorganized throughout the campaign period.

Najib , who started with the lowest popularity ratings ever by a PM has regained some support of the Malaysians.Some of the policies changes and other economic measures received support from the corporate sector as well as the public. The upcoming budget is likely to have some people friendly measures that would definitely spur Najib’s popularity.

Pakatan Rakyat, on the other hand, is seen as in chaos. No discipline whatsoever, that would sum up the attitude of their leaders. Their decline started with the BN takeover of Perak. However unfair it may be, Pakatan Rakyat leaders behavior was nothing but crude, rude and unbecoming, no matter that they felt that they were victimized. Kugan and Teoh death brought back the anger of public, but then BN is not to be blamed entirely.

Conflicting statements from their Pakatan Rakyat leaders are nothing but an example of a coalition in distress. While Lim Kit Siang does, from time to time indicate that Pakatan Rakyat has to buck up, however their supreme leader has been forever in denial, claiming that BN and press are to blame for everything.

PAS revealed their true colours while PKR leaders continue to squabble in public, the recent being Zaid decision to take leave, when there is no need to, if ever he wants to concentrate on forming a formal coalition. PKR, whose leader dreamt of taking over as PM by the way of luring (or rather, buying) the support of mainly MPs of both Sabah and Sarawak, are now facing serious crisis in the very same states. DAP on the other hand, remains the only sane party in Pakatan Rakyat despite the drubbing they received over the Kampung Buah Pala issue.

From becoming a government in waiting, Pakatan Rakyat is now seen as a coalition that is found wanting. Nothing substantial has been achieved in the states that they govern. Election promises remains as texts in their manifestos while their leaders continue to behave like opposition. In the area that I am staying, I saw no substantial differences, except for increased dengue cases.

BN is also seeing crises within their coalition. MCA is still reeling from the decision of delegates to the EGM. No solutions seems to be in sight. I would have preferred the level headed reformist, Ong Kah Ting remained for another term. Chua Jui Meng headed for the problematic PKR. My prediction is he would not last long there as he is not the person who can survive rough politics. He should have joined DAP, where at least they would have respected.

PPP is also still affected by the continued defiance of Murugiah, who refuses to acknowledge that he is no longer in PPP or definitely not the President. Najib is also appears to be unsure as to how to handle Murugiah’s case. In general, Murugiah is seen to be effective and popular in his role as Deputy Minister, regardless of the problems with the party leadership.

MIC rebranding exercise last year has resulted in President renewing his term with the support of his own men at helm in the Central Working Committee. Samy Vellu was also pressured to leave, mainly due to the insistence of influential Dr Mahathir that he has overstayed his welcome. As defiant as he has been, Samy insists that he will hand over the reign to largely ineffective deputy before the next party elections.

Najib, not wanting to rely solely on MIC for Indian support, agreed to do something unprecedented, launching Malaysia Makkal Sakhti Party, run by a former Hindraf coordinator. The PM usually do not even attend AGMs of parties who supports but not a member of BN.

The recent UMNO general assembly showed that UMNO can also be rational when their leaders want to. No fiery speeches, except for the ones by Najib. ‘Ketuanan Melayu’ appears to have taken a backseat as this grand old party risk losing their grip on power for the first time ever if they do not change.

In summary, both BN and PR are in a mess and indirectly, the Malaysian public suffers due to selfish and irrational attitude of some leaders. Imagine how many policies, approvals and economic measures could have been stalled due to politicians holding government posts (both federal and state) distracted by internal political problems in their respective party. This is where party politics and democracy does not benefit the general population and we, Malaysians have seen a bit too much of this lately.

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