Devil versus the deep blue sea

BN’s victory in the two just concluded by elections was not unexpected. Despite the allegations and scandals that would have toppled most governments in the world,BN still won as Malaysian politics are played on a different dimension.

The most brilliant strategy by the ruling coalition since the 2013 GE is  playing PAS against DAP, thereby not  only breaking up the rudimentary two-party system, but also causing the opposition parties to backstab each other. Without Anwar at the  helm, PAS and DAP, the two ‘sworn-enemies-turned-friends-turned-sworn-enemies are back at each other’s throat again.  Amanah, the off shoot from PAS, was not an effective replacement for obtaining suburban and rural Malay votes.

The general perception is that UMNO and PAS  must have probably come to some undisclosed  agreement to work hand in hand, (or just help each other). The clearest evidence is the private member’s bill by PAS president which was expediated in Parliament. Isn’t it strange that the ruling party would expediate a bill put forward by a major opposition party? Well, this is the politics of the Land of the Wayang Kulit; expect lots of shadow plays. Who is the best in shadow play? You know better than me.

PAS’s role in the two by elections is to split opposition votes, something of a spoiler. The results showed just that. But even without PAS, Amanah would not have won anyway, as the total of votes for opposition fell short of the votes obtained by UMNO candidates. So actually PAS is just the fallback insurance. Even without it, BN would have won even in a one-against-one contest,

Why?

Many of those who have voted for the opposition in the last GE  were disappointed with the opposition parties, which have not lived up to expectations. The disarray, the power struggles, the backstabbing were not what the supporters have hoped for. The Kajang move, the PAS-DAP rows, the infightings in PKR, the DAP-PKR three cornered fights in Sarawak, all these give a perception that all  the  opposition parties care about is getting power for themselves. Not to mention some questionable deals in opposition held states which have been highlighted in media.

For the next GE, a lot of these supporters-turned-disillusioned-fence-sitters will probably abstain. Some Chinese votes are expected to go back to BN, too, because of disappointment with the opposition. Between the Devils and the deep blue sea, if  the deep blue sea is not any better, so why not go back to the Devils? At least the Devils are more familiar.

Many of those I have spoken to have indicated that they would probably take a overseas vacation during the next GE, and not cast any votes. These are the urban educated people, the so called intelligentsia. Contrast this with the last GE when many of these same people were asking their friends and children overseas to come back to vote against BN.

What this means is that BN will probably do better in the next GE, as in the case of the recently Sarawak election.

Following the momentum of the by election victories and from a renewed position of strength,PM will probably call the next GE soon, since at this stage, with one-against-one contests unlikely as in the last GE, BN should win back many seats due to expected three cornered fights in many areas. Opposition can only expected to win in hardcore anti-BN areas, but that will not be enough to topple BN.

The opposition parties should by now realize that the biggest hurdle on the road to Putajaya is themselves; they have scored too many own goals that even a scandal tainted  and weakened BN team can beat them easily.

In all probabilities, BN may even win more than two-third of federal seats, and it would be back to square one for everybody!

 

 

 

 

 

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Lessons for Malaysia from World’s top 2 leaders

Perhaps all of us can take some time off and listen to President Obama’s speech to the African Union in Ethopia, as well as Chinese Chairman Xi Jin Ping’s advice to government leaders.

part of the transcript:

Now, let me be honest with you — I do not understand this. (Laughter.) I am in my second term. It has been an extraordinary privilege for me to serve as President of the United States. I cannot imagine a greater honor or a more interesting job. I love my work. But under our Constitution, I cannot run again. (Laughter and applause.) I can’t run again. I actually think I’m a pretty good President — I think if I ran I could win. (Laughter and applause.) But I can’t.

So there’s a lot that I’d like to do to keep America moving, but the law is the law. (Applause.) And no one person is above the law. Not even the President. (Applause.) And I’ll be honest with you — I’m looking forward to life after being President. (Laughter.) I won’t have such a big security detail all the time. (Laughter.) It means I can go take a walk. I can spend time with my family. I can find other ways to serve. I can visit Africa more often. (Applause.) The point is, I don’t understand why people want to stay so long. (Laughter.) Especially when they’ve got a lot of money. (Laughter and applause.)

When a leader tries to change the rules in the middle of the game just to stay in office, it risks instability and strife –– as we’ve seen in Burundi. (Applause.) And this is often just a first step down a perilous path. And sometimes you’ll hear leaders say, well, I’m the only person who can hold this nation together. (Laughter.) If that’s true, then that leader has failed to truly build their nation. (Applause.)

You look at Nelson Mandela — Madiba, like George Washington, forged a lasting legacy not only because of what they did in office, but because they were willing to leave office and transfer power peacefully.

Translation:

xijinping says that if anyone wants to hold a government position, don’t think of enriching himself. If anyone wants to be rich, never hold a government position. If a person wants to hold a government position, do it without any worry of any ‘skeletons in the closet’.Don’t view power that comes with government position as a shortcut to satisfy one’s greed and self interest. Otherwise, it is just  a matter of time, that person will be finished.

The politics of rollercoaster

My stand on PPSMI has been very clear. It has been stated many times previously in this blog so I am not going to go into it anymore.

What i want to post today is the interesting observation on why there is such a sudden change in decision of the No. 2.

We all know the Old Horse has been perceived to be ‘playing both cards” or some of you may like to use the term ‘playing both sides”. The British has a nicer term ‘divide and rule”. When you divide and rule, you get both sides trying to please you and you get the best of both worlds, so to speak. You can also choose the one willing to make best deals with you.

Of course, people like me and most of you out there would not be able to play divide and rule. You need a certain status and stature  at least, and you must be able to  command support from a big proportion of members in order to be able to play such game.

The last Chief was not even in Old Horse’s book to play. He pushed him out outright, and many people thought it was because of the cancellation of the crooked bridge and so on.

But the present chief has been quite astute. He has also been treading on a very careful line so as not to step onto you-know-who’s toes. But at one time, his policies were deemed to be nott to the liking of the conservatives ( especially initially his stand on NEP), hence the outsourced organisation P  was formed and Old Horse became some sort of ‘patron’ . By using this outsourced organisation, he was able to check many of the otherwise-would-be-more-liberal policies, causing many flip flopping like you see in an acrobatic show. The new economic model was toned down, many u-turns were taken .

It has also given rise to the perception/rumours  that the Old Horse is behind No.2  and the right wingers associated with him and that there is an undercurrent waiting to push NO.1 out.

The right wingers were seen to be on the ascendancy especially after the “Big Rally July” debacle. Even though the right wingers are against the rally , they used the mishandling to portrait  No 1 as being weak and indecisive. Then the precious stone incident came out ( who but those in high positions can get those documents?) That was the low point.

But as the Cantonese ( I am not but I think they have lots of wisdom) says: a person will have “sam soi lok wong”, meaning a person will have 3 downs and 6 ups in his life. After experiencing downs, there will  definitely be ups.. This is usually used to motivate someone who is down, but in life, very often this turns out to be true.

No. 1 after experiencing the low, decided that he could not be either here or there, trying to please both liberals and right wingers , but in the end pleasing none.  So he came out with some of the biggest decisions in his life, repealing certain laws that the liberals have been pushing for it.. Without the Big Rally July”, it would not of course happen, but if we delve into it deeper, this was because of his own very survival is at stake.

The No. 2 ‘s announcements the last few weeks sounded like the death of PPSMI has already be cast in stone and there is no more hope for those pushing for an option of using it.

Just imagine if you are in form 3 now and all these while you are using a certain language to learn maths and science and suddenly they are telling you that next year when you are in form 4 , you have to use another language, and then in a few years’ time, when you enter college, you will have to revert back to using the former again, how confusing and depressing can this be?

But just  when all the lights seem  to be out for PPSMI, a voice that belongs to none other than the Old Horse suddenly spoke up against the abolition of this, and he  was even quoted as asking  No 1 to overturn No 2’s decision, and there was even a report quoting him as saying that NO 1 could replace No 2 as the person in charge of this. I must admit this is one of the few times that I feel like giving him a hug.

After he spoke, the whole board game seems to have  changed. The option remains. The form 3 student i spoke about can continue using the same language he has been using all this while    next year..

The perception now is that from the trough, NO 1 is slowly but surely rising , and maybe this time he may reach the crest. The flip flop in announcement was bad for No 2 politically. But do not write him off yet!

Politics is like roller coasters. One moment you are up, next you will be down. When you are up, do not be too arrogant. When you are down, do not feel despair. Whether you are up or down, there will come a moment that you have to leave the wagon and stand on level ground eventually!

Irony and anomaly

One of the main differences between our universities and those in UK, US and many western countries is that while undergraduates there are allowed almost total freedom  , our undergraduates are still being treated as high school students in many aspects and  they need university permission to do this and that.

Even mere presence in a political rally could jeopardise a undergraduate’s future if someone reported him to the authority.

The irony is while there are UMNO clubs formed by Malaysian overseas university students in many of the western countries, Malaysian local university students are not allowed to even utter political support or participate in political events, even if they are over 21. The same person who can actively debate politics of our country while studying in university overseas suddenly is deemed to be not fit to discuss politics once he or she comes back and join a local university as a student.

Another irony is that while those local university students who are over 21 can exercise their votes as guaranteed under our Constitution, they are not allowed to take part in anything considered political. The very act of voting is itself political, not to mention that in order to vote, a person needs to form an opinion. if he is not allowed to take part in political events, how is he going to form his opinion, other than taking in the official version of events from main stream media?

This restriction on university students not to take part in politics also creates an anomaly. Those who join workforce directly after high schools and over 21 can take part in politics, while their counterparts studying in universities who are supposed to be the creme dela creme are considered not matured enough to take part in politics.  An anomaly that is not only laughable but down right ridiculous.

All these ironies and anomalies are the direct result of the UUCA, which places so many restrictions on our university students so as to stifle their creativity. Any wonder why none of our universities are ranked internationally?

I am glad that the Court of Appeals has now ruled that UUCA section 15(5)(a) is unconstitutional.  In fact, in my humble opinion, many other acts are unconstitutional too, like the one restricting on  freedom to assemble.

Apart from the law, too much restrictions on our university students run counter to our aim of producing all round, thinking  individuals who would be our leaders one day.  How the hell they can become good leaders when they are not supposed to learn to be leaders during the most important learning period of their lives?

In many western universities, students can form any society that they want. In fact, if they cannot find one society of their liking to join, they are welcome to form their own .This creates an milieu which encourages creativitiy, innovation, and exchange of ideas. That is what university is supposed to do, not merely a place to learn academic stuff, but a place where a person learns to develop  his potentials.

I hope our PM can  exert his leadership on this issue, and  once and for all repeal those restrictive sections in our law, so as to enable the ” blooming of a hundred flowers”.. We Malaysians need a renaissance of sort if we really want to move out of our middle income trap.

” The same type of rice raises up a hundred types of different people

There is a Chinese proverb saying that ” the same type of rice raises up a hundred types of different people”. This simply means that you cannot expect every human to be the same, even when they come from the same culture and background.

This saying is very apt to describe the diverse range of voters. I am always fascinated by how people vote. From my observation, many have made up their minds long before the polling day, but there are many who may tell others that they have made up their minds only to change their mind last minute due to many on-the-day and on-the-spot influences.

Many like myself would have decided what the country needs, and going into the polling booth, we will not hesitate to put a cross next to the person or rather the symbol that we want to choose.

But many would not make up their minds, and sometimes you can see them ponder a bit before drawing the cross in the voting cubicle.

Many who may have decided to vote for a certain party only to change their mind on reaching the polling station. It can be due to very trifle reasons like the perceived impoliteness of the people manning the enquiry section outside, the conduct o the driver who drove the party vehicle to fetch that person, or last minute issues that suddenly surfaced ( the most famous is the headwear incident of TRH in the 1990  Semangat 46 vs BN) . It can also be caused by not so last minute events, such as events in the run-up of the campaign week, an eample of which is  the famous incident in Seputih in one of the past elections when a candidate uttered the wrong message of ‘man standing and women squatting’… the tide turned so badly against him that he was never given a second chance by his party.

In the last GE, the 4 candidates for Chief Ministers(and the announcement that the one who won the highest vote will be CM) did the ‘thing’ to bury Gerakan in Penang.. Not even DAP and LGE expected that to happen. NO one would have thought that a party with so many years of history and such deep roots in Penang would be up-rooted and wiped out so completely.

This is just an example of how  the behaviour and speeches of leaders and members of a party can affect the voting pattern in the run-up of an election.

I have seen people changing their decision last minute because they think that the candidate’s picture looks very ‘sombong’ (arrogant). That is why the first thing many candidates do is to get a professional photographer who will take literally hundreds of their photographs and then let the campaign team choose the most presentable one for the banners and pamphlets.

I have come across a voter whom when i tried to convince him to vote for certain candidate  telling me that he would not vote for that person because he felt snubbed by the candidate once during a function many months ago when the candidate did not shake his hand on passing him.

( Even within party election, some members would not vote for a certain person standing for certain party positions just because ‘that fellow has not treated the member a cup of coffee before”.. This is a true incident.. and this is  the reason many members gave for not voting a certain person during the state party election in 2005 of a certain party. You may think this is trifle but this is human nature too).

There are of course many voters who will vote for a candidate/party because of a sewing machine gift, or even a RM50 angpow. But that type is more among the rural areas and semi rural and not among the urban crowds that I am more familiar with.

That is why most of the campaigners would be told to smile, shake every hand ( but not that of a Muslim lady), endure all sorts of abuses that may come their way.

Those who drive campaign cars are volunteers in name, but in fact they are paid an allowance that would be the envy of a taxi driver. This ensures that they are happy and polite.

While these ‘last-minute-decision-maker’ is only a small proportion, with most voters already made up their minds, in a democratic system where every vote counts, these minority as a group may become the one that decides the outcome in a close contest.

That is why no one must be arrogant even when he or she has the upper hand in a campaign.

This is the practical aspect of a campaign… And unfortunately this is part and parcel of politics.

A Godsend

In 1999, BN survived mainly because of the Chinese support. This support was partly due to the fear of PAS and its Islamic agenda. There was a swing of Malay votes towards PAS and PKR, but the swing was not enough to deny BN a big victory.

Then in 2004,  because of the “work with me, not for me” factor of the new PM, BN won big.

By winning a record number of votes, the government became so  big headed , arrogant and corrupted that many people chose to vote opposition in 2008.

Even Chinese and Indians, who were formerly so frightened of PAS’s ideology, had no qualm voting for PAS.  Actually it was not because they felt PAS is good, but because they were so fed up with BN that anything else was better than BN.

Some told me that nothing could be worse than UMNO. Thus the massive vote swing was not because of people liked PAS , but rather people hated UMNO more. PKR benefited in the same way, mainly because of the resentment of people towards the ruling party.

So, it would be wise for leaders of PAS and PKR, and to a smaller extent DAP, not to become too big-headed and arrogant like their counterparts in the Big Brother. To do that would be the surest way to lose support.

PR must understand that the odds are always against them winning the next election. After Bersih, things may have become brighter. Their odds have improved, and there is now a real chance of them winning the next GE. But having a real chance does not mean ‘sure win’. BN still has the upper hand.

In the run-up to the next GE, whoever fumbles and shoots himself  in his own feet would be doing a big service to the other side.

The recent JAIS raid of a dinner in a church is very high-handed and should be condemned by everyone. The MB of Selangor has tacitly acknowledged that when he regretted the action of JAIS.  But surprisingly, an exco under him, a PAS leader purportedly in charge of religious affairs, defended the JAIS action, giving the impression that he was all for it.

At the time of writing, we still do not know who ordered the raid. But the perception among the people  is that the exco in charge of religious affairs, the PAS leader, was behind it.

In PAS, like in any other party, there are factions; the more conservative and the more liberal.  But both factions must understand that the action of even one individual would affect the image and perception of the whole party. What the conservatives do would affect the liberals, and vice versa.

If he has actually ordered the raid, then he must be prepared to answer to the people and his more liberal party colleagues.   He must also realise that his very action of defending JAIS is a  Godsend to BN.

Are we at war?

Looking at the pictures of the youth gathering, and the shouting lead by PM to ” defend Putrajaya”, I can’t help but ask myself this: Is Malaysia under attack from any external threat? are we fighting a war against any invasion?

The answer is of course No.

Then why mobilise the youth as if a war is coming.

This thing happens only in third world countries where people are more gullible.

In most democratic countries, changing of government in elections are common.

Why treat the opposition parties as someone who is your enemies? Why are people so partisan? Parties are set up because of differing ideologies; they have differing ideas on how to run the country; or certain of their policies are different. One may be more liberal, others may be more conservative  like those in UK, or USA.

In elections, parties should sell on their ideologies and manifestos, not on scandals or giving out misinformation. They should never treat their oponents as if the opponents are external threat to the country. They must know that both have roles to play; the ruling as well the opposition. They are not external enemies like the Japanese in the Second Word War.

Sell your ideas and the your track record of governing and let people decide. There is absolutely no need to classify your counterparts in the opposition as if they are external threats.

Winning or losing government positions are not the end of the world; unless of course there is a corrupt culture to protect!!

When will all these manipulators stop manipulating?

……………………………..

Contrast with this:

At the darkest hour during World War 2, when the Nazis overran France in just a couple of weeks, and British Epeditionary Force (BEF) were  encircled leading to the miraculour retreat at Dunkirk,  one man came forward and urged the country ”  We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender”.

This man was Sir Winston Churchill. When everything seemed lost, he had unwavering faith in the British people, and his speeches ralliedd the British to fight a war against all odds and in the end defeated Germany’s mighty airforce in the Battle of britain.

That was a Statesman extraordinary. After the war, when the British people chose to dump him for another Prime Minister, he just retired.

He never called  his people to defend 10 Downing Street against the Labour party in the 1945 election, in which he lost the Premiership to Clement Attlee of the Labour party.

What a contrast !

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