We all know by now that the US Presidential election is won by Barrack Obama, for his second term. We should wish him well, and hopefully he will utilize his second terms to better use. Our only caution would be that, the US President is only part of the story, and Obama, alone as President, cannot do much, unless he can muscle his way through the American political system. Hopefully, with the “honey moon period” of the first term is over with, he can focus on his second term to be the real mark of what he can do achieve to create his legacy. For that, we should wish him well.
Malaysian general election (PRU13 as they called it), should be coming around any time from now till April 2013. Whilst so many political pundits try to predict the time of it, and with the believe that timing is critical for the incumbent (BN) in regards to their success in getting another mandate to rule the Nation, the truth is nothing much more can be done to change the mind set of most people to sway the results in anybody’s favour. And timing is not the critical factor any more.
The popular votes between BN (National front and ruling coalition) and PR (the opposition front) in PRU12, roughly about 47% (BN) and 53%(PR). That will not change much from those voters who was there in PRU12 (2008). Out of that, roughly urban voters voted 40% (BN) and 60% (PR), while rural voters make up as the balancing factor to make the 47:53 ratio for the whole country. We have about 3 million new eligible voters, which off course are the young people, and nobody can tell for sure how they will vote this time around, and what ratio of support they will give between BN and PR. If they are split by half, then PR still get the majority of popular votes; and that would the best scenario anybody can imagine. To view that majority of them favours BN would be a bit too much. The block of non-Malay voters (Chinese and Indians), this time around will be quite sure favours PR. While the rural Malay would pretty much remains majority towards BN.
The issues to be played out this time around won’t be that clear. Economic issues are important, but not getting much attention and well understood by voters. Give outs by incumbents may play some role, but is no longer a sure thing. Role of traditional media is useful, but not totally effective, since alternative media are becoming incumbent source of news and information. Budget and government policies, while remains essential, is no longer very effective tool to cover the eyes of the people. Issues on corruption and mismanagement, while popular on lecture circuits among the opposition, undermines the real issue of what are the solid plans they have to run the nation, should they govern. The trial run of first term PR rule of Selangor, Penang, together with Kelantan and Kedah, provides mix results and views.
I would safely say that Kelantan and Penang will remain with PR (PAS and DAP respectively). Sarawak, Johor, Pahang, Melaka, Perlis will likely remains under BN. The hot contests would be Selangor, Perak, and Negeri Sembilan. While Terengganu, Kedah and Sabah would be closely on the margins for either side.
What would matter more this time around, would the choice of candidates for both BN and PR. Choices of good candidates may results in winnable seats for well chosen candidates that appeal to people, beyond the party. For this matter, BN is facing severe challenge, since UMNO is mired with problems that party veterans/stalwarts hardcore stand that candidacy is a given right to them. Choosing other candidates will make them to be sabotage the election process, and UMNO/BN cannot take the issue lightly. Probably this time around we will see more independent candidates fielding in. This is probably quite healthy, since party lines seems to be at times out of order to voters. The chance of independent candidates winning seats are probably higher, and this might be the trend for the future as well.
Local issues would dominate more than National issues – such as local development and economic performance. Why Melaka fares better for BN, because economically (as small state) they are quite well off. The same thing for DAP in Penang. But in case of Sabah, the internal issue would be “economic autonomy” with “political autonomy” – in the sense that Sabahan should have more say about how they manage themselves, rather than being dominated by “Semenanjung”. Examples of petty issues like minor school repairs cposting only RM50,000 must be approved from Semenanjung, does not augur that well for Sabahan; and personal fiefdoms by Sabahan leaders only adds insult to injury. And finally, for urban population: empowerment seems to be more important than pure economic issues.
So what would be the “likely results” of the PRU13?
My simplest view would be – everything would hang in the balance. There will probably be no sure winner and no sure loser. Probably, the parties have to resolve to some form of bargaining and trade off, as well as bargaining and trade off at the MP or ADUN levels, as we saw part of it post PRU12 (2008). Probably, what we saw was just the beginning of what’s more to come. Hence let us not be surprised that this time around, it will much vigorous than before.
Is good or Bad?
My view is that it Malaysia is a working democracy that are maturing. No need for real alarm. We need more check and balance, and hopefully, out of it, all parties are checked upon any excessiveness, and be more guarded in what they promise to deliver.
Effect on the economy?
It will move on regardless of ruling party. Many may not realize that our economy has taken path towards political independence quite sometime back, and the way forward will be more independence, since politics will become less and less influential.
Final words: Please perform your duty to vote responsibly.