Thursday, March 6, 2008


Hantu Laut

Michael Backman is a well-known and respected business and political writer in this region and elsewhere.He regularly writes for the Age, an Australian newspaper and have written many articles on politics in Malaysia.

I produce below a recent article on Malaysian politics.

Malaysia needs a strong Opposition

Yes, no, maybe? Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has called elections for March 8.

Yes, no, maybe? Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has called elections for March 8.

Michael Backman
  • February 27, 2008
  • Page 1 of 2

SHOULD Malaysians bother to vote? The corollary of this question is: does the Malaysian Government deserve to be re-elected? The answer to the second question is no.

In the past few years, the Malaysian Government has presided over an extraordinary number of scandals that are appalling by any standards: the trade minister's allocation of car import permits to friends, relatives and supporters; the billion-dollar fraud at the Port Klang Free Trade Zone; the outrageous and much-flaunted wealth of ruling party politician Zakaria Md Deros; the claims that a High Court judge allowed the lawyer representing a rich businessman to write for him his judgement in a defamation lawsuit; an immensely rich chief minister in Sarawak state who is allowed to rule as if it were his; and so on.

The Malaysian Government richly deserves to pay for all of this at the ballot box.

So the next question is: should the Malaysian Opposition be elected to office? Again, the answer is no.

The Opposition is a shambolic assortment of the disaffected rather than a competent, alternative government. In no way is it ready to govern.

All these questions are pertinent because Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has called elections for March 8.

Elections are fought tenaciously in Malaysia as if the South-East Asian country is a fully fledged democracy. But it isn't. It is democratic in that elections are held, but they are not fair. The ruling coalition has been in power in one form or another since independence 50 years ago. One reason for this longevity is that there are legal and institutional biases that favour the Government.

Malaysian electorates are severely malapportioned. The smallest electorates are rural; the largest are metropolitan. The largest have about six times the number of registered voters as the smallest. This means that the votes of those in the smallest seats count for many times those in the larger seats.

This sort of bias meant, for example, that in the last general elections held in 2004, the ruling coalition won 198 or 91% of the parliamentary seats with just 64% of the votes cast. The Opposition won only 21 seats or 9.6% of the seats compared with 36% of the popular vote.

Had the Parliament reflected voters' actual voting intentions, there would have been 79 rather than 21 Opposition members elected. Read more.....


Mat Salo said...

HL - I've read Backman's articles in the past and his comments has often been described as "Malaysia bashing" by some - which I find a bit over-the-top, and beside the point.

It's painful to hear, but the truth always hurts doesn't it? I am mostly in agreement --even when he described the state of the opposition's readiness to govern. They're not. But what the people can do is create a big chink in BN's armor. The wisest thing to do, as you suggested is to vote the personalities, not the party because the there are also able leaders in BN. The problem is a majority of the voters cannot make as informed choice as the media is lopsided. Perhaps our country still has a long way to go H-L. But if the opposition makes strong inroads, that's good enough for me.

Backman did the research an he's right on this score: " . . . there are legal and institutional biases that favour the Government". 2/3rd's is virtually guaranteed, H-L as much as I personally like BN to be denied this, as the SPR you can see, is already pulling all the stops...

supa said...

I wonder where Backman get his information. It's a shame that an Aussie can be better informed than an average Malaysian.
BTW, if you're a Sabahan by any chance, I'd urge you to check if you're in M*Sa A.'s constituency, the handout this term is 500.

SM said...

Mat Salo,

Yes, it's painful to read! Many times I've read foreign commentaries & many times I felt like saying mind your own bloody business BUT most of the time those commentators were correct.
It's not only us who know of the corruption that goes on here. The whole world knows.
As for the SPR, well...who controls them? Yes, no reward for the answer!
The only way our Opposition will deny the BN their 2/3rds majority is if there is "Divine Intervention"!
God help Malaysia!

Hantu Laut said...

Mat Salo,

Yes, same here,I read most of his articles and got really annoyed with some of the things he said about Malaysia, but deep down in my heart I know most of what he said was true. The irony is our leaders don't seem to have any shame at all and do something to correct the bad image they are giving this country.

We probably have one of the worst reputation of a modern society.From cops on the street taking pittance to mega corruption at the top and murder in hight places.

The pagar that suppose to jaga the padi pun makan juga.Do we need another ACA to jaga the other ACA?

Sorry to mangle the English language or should I say mangle and tangle the Malay and English language.

Just 5 days before polling the EC say indelible ink can't use, giving some lame excuses.Have they been sleeping all this while and woke up 5 days before polling day?

By hook or by crook they will roam home, back to their kingdom of easy pickings.

Hantu Laut said...


I am from Sabah.Never heard it.

What out for my article coming up in "ASIA SENTINEL"

Hantu Laut said...

Don't despair.There may still be a chance to deny them the 2/3.

Badawi just visited Keningau yesterday to help shore-up support for Pairin who is fighting uphill battle against his brother,Jeffery.

Some KDM and Chinese seats will go to the oppositions.

SM said...


I pary ever night before I sleep that we will get the right mix of BN & Opposition in our Parliment & that the BN does not get its 2/3rds majority.
There is no other way to teach these arrogant, smug, crooks what we think of them. For too long they have been running our country like it was their personal "fiefdom"! The only time they remember that we put them where they are is during the General Elections, after that they act & treat us like we are stupid, wayward children who need to be scolded & "put in our place"!
You are right, I will keep positive!

supa said...

*Start of Public Service Announcement*
M*sa's area is N42 Sungai Sibuga. The fund is provided by his several cohorts. My sources are fairly reliable.
But hey, I maybe joking. No harm checking it out though.
/Time to give back to the community!/
*End of Public Service Announcement*

Hantu Laut said...

I know where it is but I have not heard they are so generous to give out that much.