Monday, February 18, 2013

When is GE 13 ?

GE13 is on the horizon. I have once mentioned to Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak that he should not rush into this: it can be be held as late as 26 June.

The fourteenth session of Parliament must be convened on or before 25 August unless somecatasrophe befalls us in which case the Yang di-Pertuan Agong many invoke Article 150 of the Federal Constitution and declare a state of emergency. The latest date, however, that Parliament must be dissolved is 27 April.

Many have argued (and this has proven to be without merit) that if Najib was smart, he should have held the general election in June or October last yaer. The rationale for this argument is it would have denied the Opposition enough time to prepare for the event.

Do know that Najib is no coward; he is a marathon runner. Many have forgotten that this is the same man who waited thirty-three years to become Prime Minister when he should have been raised to the position as early as in 2003.

Alas, Dr Mahathir Mohamed had committed the biggest mistake in his political career. He lived the next five years in regret and heartache of his mistake in appointing his chosen successor. This is apparent if one were to just judge merely from appearances and not even scratch the surface.

Najib is adamant on seeing that his policies, reformation and transformation programmes take shape first – even if not in full measure – before he would let the people choose.

I reckon that Najib is smart in delaying the GE13. I know him as a man who is thorough, methodical and cunning in facing the Opposition, one that is certainly quite formidable. Both Najiband Anwar Ibrahim are consummate polital animals.

Even though there is no indication that this will be the case, Najib doesn't want to be the last UMNO/BN Prime Minister. Likewise, Anwar, too, would certainly not relish the prospect of defeat. Such a scenario would only hasten his already dwindling political career. After all, he will beseventy – effectively an old man - at GE13.

This is why GE13 will prove to be the most historic, democratic, transparent, expensive andcompetive in the country's democratic electoral history. The stakes have never been higher.

The world - and also the United Nations - acknowledges that our elections are free, fair and transparent, even if there is still room for improvement. Personally, I have stood in three general elections: 1974, 1986 and 1990. I have won twice and lost once. Throughout that experience, it never once occurred to me that fraud played any part in our elections at all.

The stink of it is, when they lose, they will be only too willing to allege foulplay and deceit. But when they win, as they have in Kelantan (45 out of 55 years), Penang, Kedah, Perak and Selangor, they tend to accept the outcome without criticism of any kind. If there is any element offoulplay or deceit in our elections, how is it that they have won so handsomely in these instances.We have to be open minded and impartial: what is right, is right.

Thing could be a lot simpler. If they (the Opposition) really insist that our elections are less than transparent they could take the route taken by Singapore's Barisan Sosialis by staging a boycott after twice failing to defeat the PAP: once in 1962 during the referendum to join Malaysia and in the general elections after Singapore joined Malaysia in September 1963.

In the election of 1963, the Barisan Sosialis actually won 13 out of 51 seats.

When Singapore gained its independence from Malaysia in 1965, Barisan Socialis refused to participate in Singapore's general election. Instead it preferred NOT to pursue its cause by democratic means and to had decided to take the battle to the streets. The decision to do so disrupted the lives of the people and proved to be unpopular. Barisan Socialis soon after died a natural death.

Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed laments, “The leader of the Opposition, Anwar (a former friend, deputy and Crown Prince), plans to topple the Government if PKR loses in the elections. He intends to initiate an 'Arab Spring' – a revolt a la Tahrir Square in Cairo. But Malaysia is not Egypt. And neither is it Tunisia, Indonesia or Thailand.

Our circumstance in Malaysia is different. I do not think Anwar will try this. If he does, the same fate (or worse) that befell the Barisan Socialis would also befall his party, the PKR. Anwar cannot possibly be this  shallow. There are more effective, impactful and profitable routes other than street demonstrations.

Naturally, Tun Dr Mahathir is a great campaigner against and prosecutor of the Oppostion. He fears that a change in government will leave him open to investigations and even trial by the same. We all have to be realists.

I have not come across anyone who is unprejudiced who maintains the the DAP-PAS-PKR Opposition will win, be it from among the ranks of capitalists (foreign and domestic), foreign diplomats or neutral citizens. Even the most optiminist, especially the Western media who are traditionally sympathetic to Opposition causes, do not dare to venture beyond a cautious, “…for the first time the election could be close, tightest ever.” (The Economist Feb 2)

Now let's talk about Ustaz Nahasrudin Mat Isa – a former Number 2 in PAS – who maintains that DAP's collaboration with PAS is less than sincere. Now, would it not have been better if had gone public with this viewpoint while he was still the Number 2 in PAS and a senior member of itsSyura Council!

The impact would have been akin to that of a hurricane's! Alas, there is still some value in this, though not much. Nonetheless, it is clear that, as Tun Dr Matathir has observed, that PAS is so enamoured with DAP that its Mursyudul Am celebrates his birthday at Karpal Singh's house!

The constituency of Bachok has twice been represented by a PAS deputy president: UstazZulkiflee Mohamed and Ustaz Nasharudin himself. Who will PAS now nominate to defeat the UMNO candidate here. I am not certain who the UMNO candidate will be. Maybe Dr Awang Adek(for the third time). Or, of course, it could be someone else...

A Parliamentary seat that will surely attact attention is Lembah Pantai. I hope Nurul Izzah will defend her seat, representing youth, liberalism, PAS-style Islam, and Malaysian Malaysia meets social contract: not hardcore Chinese, hardcoreIndian, but the union of the indigenous and political status quo with a twist. After defeating a Cabinet minister – the first woman to be in charge of women's affairs – Nurul Izzah once again has a chance at defeating a minister (one who is charged with the wellbeing of Kuala Lumpur), Raja Nong Chik Raja Zainal Abidin. Wouldn't it be good to a giant-killer - twice!

In Malaysia it is never easy to defeat the Government – something that has never been done at the Federal-level since independence. It looks set that the story will continue.

Of course, this is unless the Opposition has the smarts to seize the moment. This is a big challenge – even bigger than it actually looks. Whatever the case might be, Najib's position still looks to be unassailable. Perhaps it is true as they say, “Najib is in for a bumpy ride. That's all”

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