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Tuesday, June 13, 2017


How do you organise a face-off in Malaysia like in the UK? The Prime Minister must face the Prime Minister-in-waiting and slug it out live on TV. While we know who the Prime Minister is we do not know who is the Prime Minister-in-waiting. Pakatan Harapan cannot make up their mind plus they do not dare say who that Prime Minister-in-waiting is because they know that will cause Pakatan Harapan to break up.
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Hafidz Baharom wrote a most interesting analysis today, Why a youth tsunami may not happen(READ HERE), where he compared the recent UK general election with the coming Malaysian general election. Actually the issue is not as straightforward as that and Hafidz was not really comparing apples to apples.
First of all, in the UK it was a party versus party situation. In Malaysia it is coalition versus coalition — in this case the Barisan Nasional ruling coalition versus the Pakatan Harapan opposition coalition. If we want to compare party to party then we would have to take the lead partners in those two coalitions. So this means we would have to compare Umno to DAP since Barisan Nasional is Umno-led and Pakatan Harapan is DAP-led.
Secondly, although there were more than half a dozen parties competing in the UK general election, only five can be considered serious contenders while only two can actually win enough seats to form a government — Conservative Party and Labour Party. The others can only play a supporting role or become the ‘kingmaker’ if they are called upon to help form a coalition government.
Thirdly, Britain has got a taste of both governments — Conservative and Labour. So the British are very familiar with the pros and cons or positives and negatives of both. And by now the British public know both parties are not perfect and both have their defects and faults. So now it all boils down to choosing the lesser of the two evils. And at different points of time in British history one party is more evil than the other. Hence the ‘evil’ is not static but dynamic. It just depends on which issue is of prime importance at the time of the general election.
Fourthly, all seven parties were given equal media coverage and equal airtime and were allowed to debate their party’s policies, objectives, plans and manifesto. So the British public would watch the contenders live selling themselves to the voters. Then the public was allowed to grill them and ask tough questions, which they were forced to reply to. And they could not just reply, “Put us into power first and we shall show you what we can do” or “We cannot reveal our plans yet or else the other side will steal our ideas.”
If these debaters contradict what they said in the past they would be hammered and will be reminded of what they said before. Both leading candidates, Theresa May and Jeremy Corbyn, suffered this. The public would not allow them to back-paddle or do a T-turn and if they did they would be taken to task. The British public were not kind to them and you could see they were under tremendous stress.
In Malaysia, we do not see the party leaders face-off in a live debate on TV. Furthermore, if Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak takes the stage as the representative of Barisan Nasional, who is going to face him on the other side as the representative of Pakatan Harapan? Umno is the largest party in Barisan Nasional while Najib is the Chairman of Barisan Nasional. So it makes sense that Najib takes the stage on behalf of Barisan Nasional.
On the other side DAP is the largest party in Pakatan Harapan and Lim Kit Siang is the party leader (and he does all the talking on behalf of DAP). But is he the Chairman of Pakatan Harapan and will he be taking the stage or face Najib as Pakatan Harapan’s leader or representative? If not him then whom? It is not quite clear who the leader of Pakatan Harapan is whereas no one is in any doubt as to who is the leader of Barisan Nasional — the President of Umno who is also the Prime Minister.
So how do you organise a face-off in Malaysia like in the UK? The Prime Minister must face the Prime Minister-in-waiting and slug it out live on TV. While we know who the Prime Minister is we do not know who is the Prime Minister-in-waiting. Pakatan Harapan cannot make up their mind plus they do not dare say who that Prime Minister-in-waiting is because they know that will cause Pakatan Harapan to break up.
Now, in the UK it does not matter whether it is Conservative or Labour who forms the government. Both are about the same. The perception that people have is Conservative serves the rich while Labour serves the poor. So at the end of the day it all boils down to money. You vote for either Conservative or Labour for monetary reasons. Brexit is about money. Healthcare is about money. Education is about money. Welfare is about money. Immigration is about money. You will vote for whoever can assure you that you will have more money in your pocket.
In Malaysia it is not just about money, although that would be one factor to influence your decision. It is also about Malay rights and privileges. It is also about the New Economic Policy. It is also about Islam. It is also about the Sharia. It is also about Christianity. It is also about whether Malaysia is a Secular State or Islamic country. It is also about the Bahasa Malaysia Bible. It is also about permission to build churches. It is also about the number of non-Malays in the civil service, military and police force. It is also about Chinese schools and Chinese education. It is also about the Indians and their social problems. It is also about freedom of choice (freedom to leave Islam and become a Christian or atheist, freedom to be gay and to have same-sex marriages, freedom to criticise Islam, freedom to criticise the Qur’an, freedom to criticise Prophet Muhammad, freedom to criticise the monarchy, etc.).
Hence general elections in Malaysia are more complicated. Then there is Sabah and Sarawak and the autonomy and Malaysia Agreement issue that keeps popping up every other week. Then there is the oil wealth that the federal government is ‘stealing’ from the states while giving them back just 5%. Then there is the corruption and abuse of power, which has become the culture for most Malaysians from both sides of the political divide (why pay a RM300 fine for a traffic offence when you can pay a RM50 bribe?)
So, let us assume we organise a live debate just before the next general election. Representing Barisan Nasional will be Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak. Who is going to represent the other side? It cannot be Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail since her party does not control the most number of seats. Pakatan Harapan will not want it to be Lim Kit Siang either (although his party controls the most number of seats) because then it will be a debate between a Malay and a Chinese. So most likely it will be a debate involving Najib, Kit Siang, Abdul Hadi Awang, Wan Azizah, Mat Sabu and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. (The UK had seven people debating while Malaysia will have six — or seven if PSM is included).
And now the fun will start. After they tell the Malaysian voters what they can do for Malaysia if they come into power, the public can then pose questions for each of them to take turns to answer. And after each of the six (or seven) leaders give us their answers, most likely many Malaysians will just stay home and not bother to come out to vote and the voter turnout will be the lowest in Malaysian history.

1 comment:

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