Friday, February 19, 2010

Malaysia's Opposition Coalition in Crisis

Defections and other problems probably mean the opposition will lose its ability to block legislation requiring a two-thirds vote

It is beginning to appear that the two-year experiment with a viable opposition in Malaysia is just about over. Malaysian Insider, a Kuala Lumpur-based online news site, reported that as many as 10 members of Pakatan Rakyat, the unwieldy coalition led by Anwar Ibrahim, could be about to defect.

Even if they don't, the opposition is flailing. Anwar's own trial for consensual sex with a former male aide continues and, given Malaysia's malleable court system, is expected to result in his conviction although appeals could take as long as two years before he is sent to prison. In the latest development, High Court Judge Mohamad Zabidin Mohd Diah said he could decide by himself whether he was sufficiently neutral to continue to hear the sodomy case. He dismissed Anwar's appeal against his hearing on the matter Wednesday afternoon.

The question is where the opposition goes from here. Anwar has been unable to groom any successors, partly because the disparate nature of the three parties in the opposition makes it difficult for anybody to bridge the ideological gap. If he is jailed, it is questionable how long his martyrdom might last. When he was arrested on similar charges in 1998 – which were beyond a doubt trumped up to get rid of him – he led massive rallies in Kuala Lumpur against the government. But once he was imprisoned, the protests ultimately died away.

The major effect of the two-year opposition run appears to be a historic realignment of political parties, with Parti Islam se-Malaysia, with its roots in the rural, poor, fundamentalist northeast of the country. PAS has moved to consolidate its growing power in urban areas, particularly the area surrounding Kuala Lumpur as ethnic Malays are turned off by the continuing money politics and corruption in the United Malays National Organisation. And, say political observers in Kuala Lumpur, ethnic Chinese and Indians are turning to the party as well because of the corruption in their own coalition components.

In addition, too many of the opposition members were simply not prepared to hold office or to govern once they got there, analysts say. Some were disgruntled UMNO members who crossed to the opposition before the March 2008 elections on the opportunistic belief that Anwar, a charismatic leader, could actually gain control of the parliament. Now, the insiders say, since Anwar failed in his attempt to lure enough UMNO members to defect to the opposition, and with Anwar in the middle of a debilitating trial he seems sure to lose, they are looking for ways to cross back.

Problems within the Pakatan coalition, said a senior aide to Anwar, "have been simmering and with the case now in full force, it makes sense for the dissidents to add pressure on all fronts to create as much disunity and instability as possible.”

Whether 10 MPs will defect is uncertain. "I think it's possible,"said the aide. "But I'm sure there is a lot of horse trading going on."

Anwar returned to Penang on Feb. 16 to seek to shore up the coalition, the aide said. Anwar acknowledged in interviews with the local press that he had picked some of the wrong candidates in the 2008 elections.

"I selected the candidates for the parliamentary seats. PKR was new then. We had to field them,"he told reporters.

There has been a steady leakage from the coalition, made up of Anwar's Parti Keadilan Rakyat of urban Malays, the largely Chinese Democratic Action Party, and PAS for months. Last week, Zahrain Mohd Hashim, an MP from Penang state, quit with a blast at Lim Guan Eng, the DAP head of the Penang state government. Malaysia Insider reported that others are to hold a press conference this week to announce their departure from the opposition. Read more.

Read also:Malaysia's Brain Drain
It's Not Just Politics and Racial Discrimination.

Malaysia's brain drain appears to be picking up speed. According to a recent parliamentary report, 140,000 left the country, probably for good, in 2007. Between March 2008 and August 2009, that figure more than doubled to 305,000 as talented people pulled up stakes, apparently disillusioned by rising crime, a tainted judiciary, human rights abuses, an outmoded education system and other concerns. Read here.


Purple Haze said...

It is probably a good thing that these disgruntled Pakatan MPs quit the coalition if they do not subscribe to the idealogy behind it.

They should, however, be honest with their electoral constituents and offer to resign their positions since they were elected on a Pakatan platform.

The rakyat should have the right to decide who represents them in these 10 seats.

Likewise, if any BN MP wishes to quit the BN, they should do the similar thing.

eddy said...

1. The many predictions by BN political pundits that the three opposition parties loose coalition will unravel may come true this year, we will see how bad the damage will be on the Pakatan, special attention to PKR which have always been a weak link as it is made up of political opportunists from UMNO,MCA,MIC and the Gerakan even PAS with a few NGOs and former PRM leaders.

In the longer run, of the three I predict wily PAS will emerge politically stronger after picking up the pieces from PKR's implosion as not many PKR members will go to the DAP for obvious reasons. In fact I think in the next GE, PAS not bogged down by Anwar Ibrahim's influence and having made inroads to the urban population will really give UMNO a real fright and run for their money.

2. Brain Drain is just another word for migration and immigration, its a global phenomena not restricted by race or religion or country, its something that have been going on thousand of years. As long as there are air, sea and road transport and less travel restriction, human desire to move from their place of origin to another foreign land for whatever reasons will continue until the end of time. People who decides to stay at their place of origin will have to do what is necessary to make their live comfortable. People who migrate will have to take a chance to try their luck in a strange land.

SM said...


Better crisis now than before the next GE.
At least DSAI had the guts to admit his mistake in choosing the wrong candidates. You can bet the arrogant UMNO Politicians will never admit to mistakes.
As for the brain drain....Nooooo...really ah? You mean people are leaving because M'sia has rising crime rate, racism & what not?!
No problems lah...Engineers, Scientists & Doctors leave BUT we still get the "future" Bumiputras from Indonesia (e.g. Khir Toyol) moving to M'sia bah! They may be mostly Construction workers but...who else's going to build all those Million & Billion Dollar UMNO Mega-Projects bah?!

eddy said...


1. Dr. Mohd Khir Toyo you like to call "khir toyol from Indonesia" was born on 6th August 1965, at Tali Air 2, Bt 4, Sungai Burung, Tanjung Karang, Selangor, M A L A Y S I A.

2. And Anwar admitting to his mistakes? Well in the case of the renegade PKR MPs and Aduns what else can he say? He cannot say that the MPs and Aduns does not believe in his political struggle to become PM of Malaysia anymore can he? Just look at his trial, how many handful of supporters can he garner now compared to hundreds and thousands 12 years ago to go to his trial.

mohamed said...

Sdr Hantu lau
You wrote,"When he was arrested on similar charges in 1998 – which were beyond a doubt trumped up to get rid of him – he led massive rallies in Kuala Lumpur against the government.

That is exactly why most people do not want him to be our PM. He is flawed and can easily be vulnarable.

In his case I fully support our goverment at that time.

Wenger J. Khairy said...

very good. let the country be ruled by bn forever. let the people get the government they deserve. let them enjoy high prices, low growth, cross injustice, let the cronies destroy the forest and rape the country dry. i am so happy - malaysians deserve Barisan Nasional

SM said...

Bro Eddy,

Yes, I know Khir Toyol was born in Msia. He's dad was from Indonesia. I know his history.
My point is that Many "Non-Bumis" in Msia have history in Msia for Generations (my ansestors came to Misa in the 14th Century) & yet are considered "Pendatangs"!
As for DSAI's supporters...haven't the PDRM (the watch dogs of UMNO) warned his supporters not to gather outside the Court Room. Doesn't the MSM & UMNO Supporters always "blame" DSAI's supporters for gathering illegially & caucing trouble.
So when his supprters stay away, UMNO says he does not have any support?!

Wenger J. said...

Since your so confident Anwar is a spent force why not as the PM to dissolve the Parliament and get his 2/3rds majority.

Anwar will forever be remembered as a hero in my history books.

eddy said...

1. Really Bro SM, I was there at the Courts in KL, really no support I think lagi ramai reporters and onlookers like me(anonymous face) he,he. PDRM pun relax sahja, not much crowd to control. We will see on 25 of March 2010 how big the crowd is, I am planning to go too.

2. Bro J Wenger, ai yo apa lah you ini, BN, even after the so called Tsunami of 2008 still maintains a huge majority in Parliament what, its a good majority by any standard, its only about 8 seats short of the magic 2/3rd majority you know. So tsunami or no tsunami, politically Najib would not be so stupid as to call an election now just to test popularity would he? Have patience my friend wait for 2012/2013 where the real action will be.