Saturday, March 8, 2008

Stunning scale of Badawi’s debacle: Badawi should quit politics
Stunning scale of Badawi’s debacle: Badawi should quit politics

ANALYSTS' VIEW - Malaysia's ruling coalition suffers upset
Sat Mar 8, 2008 9:30pm GMT (Reuters, UK)
KUALA LUMPUR (Reuters) - Malaysia's opposition handed the ruling Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition the biggest upset in its history after Saturday's elections, putting the premier's political future at risk and raising security fears.
Barisan retained a parliamentary majority, according to the election commission, but could put in its worst performance since 1969, when polls were followed by race riots and a state of emergency.
The election commission said the ruling coalition lost four states across the northern part of the peninsula and the opposition was claiming victory in a fifth state.
Indicative of the scale of the debacle, the chief of the Malaysian Indian Congress, a key component of the National Front, lost the seat he had held for 34 years.
Following are views of political analysts and politicians on Malaysia's watershed general elections.
"In my point of view there is no immediate effect on the sovereign rating, but the focus will actually be on two fronts, one is a decision-making process, i.e. what is the impact from the loss of the two-thirds majority on parliament?
"If that is going to lead a more difficult push to pass legislation, especially those measures that relate to the economy, one can imagine that if the government wants to raise oil prices, the other parties could create some opposition and the process would be more protracted.
"Secondly, the opposition states, Kedah and Penang, are key states in the northern corridor story, so how this is going to impact those states with regard to investment and public funds will have to be seen as well."
"All Malaysians regardless of race, culture and religion are a nation of one. The people have expressed in no uncertain terms that they want accountability, transparency and the rule of law. Today unity, consensus and mutual respect thrives. Tomorrow we will start building a brighter future. This is a new dawn."
"This is probably not good news for the equity market or the ringgit. I think the consensus was that the BN coalition would soldier on and have a sufficient majority to push through their spending programmes and the development of their corridors (economic development zones) ... but this puts in doubt that they will even be able to implement their spending programmes. There really was no feel-good factor before (the election) and this really reduces the likelihood that there will be one in the near future."
"It was a phenomenal shift. They lost up to potentially four state governments. I think the PM will potentially have to resign. This is unprecedented. The only other time this happened was in 1969 and that's why everybody is very nervous now because of the uncertainty."
"I guess the question now is, 'Is it going to be peaceful?' If they are able to control it, then that would at least avoid one potentially negative reaction ... Maybe it's an encouraging sign that real contested elections can be held without violence. If they had won overwhelmingly, I think there would have been suspicions that there was fraud, so the fact that they did allow the opposition to make these gains is encouraging."
Cohen doubted that rising prices alone would account for a heavy backlash against the ruling coalition.
"Frankly, I don't think that that's what would have been to blame for the opposition doing so well. People are certainly nervous about the economic outlook for the world economy right now, but I think that's more a function of what's going on in the U.S."
IBRAHIM SUFFIAN, OF MARKET-RESEARCH FIRM THE MERDEKA CENTER: "I think the opposition is 20 to 30 seats away from forming government and that's what the unofficial count is revealing. I think it's a combination of many factors. I think, number one, is the economy -- the economy is doing well, but it's not translating into a better standard of living for ordinary Malaysians.
"The level of campaigning that's being done by the opposition is phenomenal, much, much better than previous elections. It's not just the result of being better organised and better prepared, it's also the support of the people who are a bit fed up. There's also infighting within (main ruling party) UMNO."
"First of all, we saw several attempts by the coalition to try and not have these elections free and fair. Clearly, they were worried about the possibility of losing, more than any other time. At the same time, it was clear that there has been some discontent with the state of affairs in Malaysia and that the people of Malaysia really wanted an end to what has essentially been a state in which they don't have freedom of press, freedom of speech and freedom of assembly.
"There is no excuse or reason any more for Malaysia not to have that freedom. For a country that has made so much of economic progress, it is time to catch up politically. ... What we hope to see is that parliament will begin dismantling some of the authoritarian laws and systems that have been in place for too long, starting with the Internal Security arrangements. ... Opening up of Malaysian society to allow it to flourish.
YAP SWEE SENG, ACTIVIST WITH HUMAN RIGHTS BODY SUARAM: "This is a victory of people who were fed up with Barisan Nasional's mismanagement and abuse of power. People have sent a very clear message that they are fed up with racial politics.
HUSAM MUSA, VICE PRESIDENT OF PARTI ISLAM SE-MALAYSIA: "This looks like a revolution. The people have risen and are united. The message to government is, 'Enough is enough'".
- The official election result is available at the Web site of the Election Commission of Malaysia
- Comment from Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will be available at the official Web site,

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No Chinese representationn in govt - then Pak Lah must step down as PM as he had promised to be PM for all races
(Media Conference Statement by DAP Parliamentary Candidate for Ipoh Timur Lim Kit Siang at the DAP Ipoh Timur Ops Centre, Ipoh on Friday, 7th March 2008 at 12 noon)
I am utterly shocked and stunned – that the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi has done what even Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad in his most undemocratic excesses had never done in 22 years as Prime Minister, trying to force the Chinese voters to vote for MCA and Gerakan with the irresponsible threat that they could end up without any Chinese Ministers or representation in Government.
It is a grave sign of political desperation and bankruptcy – that Abdullah himself should go down into the gutter to indulge in the politics of scare, intimidation and blackmail to force the Chinese voters to vote for MCA and Gerakan candidates.
The MCA leadership has been adopting a “Jekyll-and-Hyde” attitude – playing both the role of human being and the devil at the same time - with the MCA Deputy President Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy boldly declaring only yesterday that MCA is confident it will be able to capture the majority of the 40 parliamentary and 60 state assembly seats it is contesting, while on the other hand, egging Abdullah to warn that the Chinese will end up not having any representation in the Government if the Chinese give the DAP their votes.
Why is Abdullah prepared to do the “dirty work” for MCA with the baseless poser that the Chinese have to decide if they want a louder voice in Parliament or representation in the Cabinet, when Chan Kong Choy had just said that the MCA is confident of winning the majority of the parliamentary and state assembly seats it is contesting?
When Abdullah said that the Chinese have to decide if they want a louder voice in Parliament or representation in the Cabinet, is he suggesting that the MCA President, Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting could be defeated in the Kulai parliamentary seat and that all the 40 parliamentary and 60 state assembly candidates of MCA could all be wiped out in the general election tomorrow?
From the wind of change blowing throughout the country, if they reach a great velocity on polling day tomorrow, I expect MCA to lose many parliamentary and state assembly seats but never near being wiped out completely in Parliament and the State Assemblies as to have no representation in the government, both at national and state levels.
Abdullah referred to the 1990 general election when the MCA was “paralysed”, saying: “When the MCA lost its voice, the people felt it. I hope they will think very carefully. This is important in the interests of all races.”
Abdullah cannot be more wrong. In 1990, the MCA “paralysis” was in fact beneficial to the Malaysian Chinese and the Malaysian nation, for it forced the Mahathir government to abandon the long-standing nation-building policy of assimilation and acceptance of the DAP’s policy of integration – resulting in “little liberalization” on policies of language, education and culture. It also led to the Vision 2020 with its goal of building a Bangsa Malaysia, transcending ethnic, linguistic, cultural and religious differences - a copy of the DAP’s version of Malaysian Malaysia.
It was only when the MCA was very strong, as in 1999 general election, when the Chinese voters saved Umno and Barisan Nasional from losing its two-thirds parliamentary majority as the Malays defected from Umno with Umno candidates suffering their worst electoral setbacks, that MCA produced the weakest and most ineffecfive results – particularly in allowing the rise of Umno political hegemony!
Abdullah has said the Barisan wanted the Chinese community to be part of government.
He said: “We do not want to have a government that does not have representation of all ethnic groups in the Cabinet”.
Has Abdullah forgotten one of his great pledges when he became the Prime Minister four years ago – to be Prime Minister for all Malaysians and all races and not just for Malays?
If so, if there are no Chinese representations in government, then it must be regarded as his greatest personal failure. How can he continue to cling on as Prime Minister if he cannot lead a government with fair and equal representation from all races, including the Chinese in Malaysia?
Let me answer Abdullah’s poser to the Chinese - the Chinese want both a louder voice in Parliament as well as meaningful representation in government as the best way to ensure effective representation in Cabinet is to have a louder voice in Parliament!

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