Monday, August 25, 2008
Can I Play The Devil's Advocate ?
Permatang Pauh here we come. Anwar Ibrahim or Arif Shah Omar Shah?
This is the most closely-watched by-election in Malaysian politicial history. It would the battle ground for the return of the giant or the making of a giant killer.For all this to happen the decisive and deciding factors would be the Malays in Permatang Pauh whether they would accept the return of its prodigal son and further erode Malay political hegemony or adopt a new son and keep the status quo and keep ketuanan Melayu ( Malay supremacy or Malay leadership if supremacy sounds too harsh to your ears) alive and kicking.
Ketuanan Melayu or not, this country had seen peace and prosperity after the May 13th race riot, which brought about the eventual formation of the strongest political alliance amongst the races through the ingenious brainchild of the late Tun Razak, the second Prime Minister of Malaysia, a man who thinks more than he spoke and cleverly established agglomeration of almost all of the major race-based political parties under one umbrella and gave fair and equitable representation of the races.The cohesion of the group was further fortified under the late Hussein Onn and later controversial former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammed.
Mahathir, the longest serving prime minister had, on a number of occasions during his tenure, used the ISA and detained political opponents seen as threat to national security which many Malaysians interpreted as mere instrument to silence the oppositions and muzzled freedom of expression rather than a law to protect the security of the nation.Anwar Ibrahim has promised to abolish the ISA and other undemocratic laws if he becomes prime minister.
In spite of him using the draconian law and a perceived lack of freedom of speech by some people, the nation made an impressive economic journey.Better economic progress could have been achieved if there were less corruption and lesser needs to fulfill the NEP.With his power and influence waning after almost 22 years at the helm, Mahathir handed over the baton to his deputy Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. There was euphoria and air of change and reform envisaged by the general population and this was reflected in the results of the 2004 General Elections, a massive landslide victory for Abdullah. The huge mandate turned out to be a lingering curse for Abdullah and a nightmare for UMNO.
It is now water under the bridge that Abdullah had sent wrong signals to the people of his plan for reforms. His promises never materialised.The good feelings evanescent as quickly as when he was given the massive support in 2004.The euphoria turned to contempt,disgust, disappointment and protest.
Seen as a weak and ineffective leader the people delivered their thumping blows in the March 2008 Elections.The results also delivered unprecedented support for the oppositions coalition and the return of the heroic son Anwar Ibrahim to Malaysian politics.
Almost every political pundit had given Anwar the edge over Arif Shah.It is now a matter of whether he gets bigger or smaller majority.A majority less than what his wife got in the recent polls in March this year means his support is waning and would spell trouble for him to convince MPs from Abdullah's coalition to jump over to his side.A bigger majority might not give him immediate chance of taking over the government but would certainly help to increase his support for a better outing at the next general elections if his Pakatan Rakyat still remains intact by then.
Anwar needs not worry about the Chinese and Indian voters, they have solidarity and are solidly behind him due to his promises of 'Bangsa Malaysia' policy and dismantling of the NEP. The Chinese and Indians foresee a non majority Malay government should Anwar managed to grab the premiership by 16th Sept, a mere 3 weeks away.
Anwar is an excellent orator who is equally comfortable and articulate speaking to
the high-brow and the proletariat alike with ease and versatility, a quality not many politicians in this country possessed. Some of our politicians are still peasants dressed in dark suits with very little to show in term of intellectuality and political aptness.
Anwar is a good crowd puller and attracts thousands to his ceramahs. The question is, would the majority of those present translated into votes. Even spontaneity, sometimes, do not assure full support because some came just to listen and there would be some that may be put off by the content of some of his speeches and decide to change their mind.
I have personally witnessed a strange phenomenon of massive turnout at ceramahs especially where refreshments are served and astoundingly low counts at the ballot boxes.Though I would not equate the circumstances to be the same it would not be wrong to caution that the law of probability should not be entirely dismissed.
In the 1999 state elections in Sabah, former Chief Minister Harris Salleh tried to make a comeback to Sabah politics and used his new political vehicle called Bersekutu and contested in all seats against the BN and PBS.The 3 Bersekutu ceramahs that I went to drew massive crowd of supporters and the last one at Harris's house, just 2 days before polling day, drew almost 20,000 people in a single day.Harris and those in Bersekutu were jubilant and thought they already have the government in the bag.
The results sent shock waves throughout the Bersekutu camp.The BN took 31 seats,PBS 17 and Bersekutu 0.Harris himself was badly thrashed and lost to BN Yong Tet Lee and PBS Chong Eng Leong.
There seems to be a shift of some of his Malay voters to the other side which compelled him to sought out the imam who was present when Saiful swore on the Quran and brought him to Permatang Pauh to tell his story to the folks in the kampongs that he was instructed by his superiors to conduct the Saiful's swearing by the Quran and felt it was wrong and against the teachings of Islam.If it was wrong why presided over it.You can tell your bosses to go to hell if it was against your conscience.Doesn't that make you look like a bloody fool now that you spoke against it and would be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb.
There seems to be great confusion among the imams and ulamaks in this country whether swearing by the Quran is Islamic or un-Islamic.If they are not sure they should either shut up or refer it to the Grand Mufti of Egypt Ali Gomma who is well-respected for his views on Islam and Islamic jurisprudence.That's the man (picture on top) that they should talk to to get a valid opinion.
It's absurd that imams and ulamaks in this country can make contradicting religious edict making a mockery of their knowledge of Islam which they are supposed to impart to other Muslims.Even worse they are taking sides in politics.I wonder whether imams, ustazs and ulamaks can be bought too?
Anwar would be safe as long as there is no massive shift of the Malay votes.Any significant deflection of this group would spell trouble for him.
In spite of all above I would still give Anwar the edge over Arif Shah.
The Mystery Imam ?
Who is this man?
Ramlang Porigi - 29 years old ?
He doesn't carry the common Malay names used in Peninsula Malaysia.His name sounds more like a Bugis from Sulawesi.Let's hope he is not one of those with illegal I/C from Sabah and moved to Peninsula Malaysia.