Saturday, April 18, 2009

Dollars and Sense

As the Malaysian expression goes: so clever. Najib has actually found a way to attack his opponents before the Penanti by-election is announced - by saying that by-elections cost money. As the Star reported Najib as saying:
"It is different if an elected representative dies but resignations are political decisions which can also be regarded as a political ploy," he said.
Now, if this had been in regards to the Permatang Pauh by-election I would see the logic in that. (Though Anwar could of course put forward the argument that he should have been eligible in March 2008 to begin with.) But that was months ago... and it would take a true dumbass to believe that Fairus or PKR is engineering a political ploy, for the whole issue is not doing the Pakatan Rakyat any favours.
Speaking at a press conference... he said the people resent by-elections that were held deliberately.
If the people truly do resent these by-elections, apparently they resent the Barisan Nasional even more, with the Bukit Selambau and Permatang Pauh by-elections showing a larger majority for the Pakatan Rakyat victory.

Also in the Star:
When asked if Mohammad Fairus had betrayed his constituents with his resignation, he said it was up to the people to judge was had transpired.

"The people are smart now and can make up their own minds," he added.
Well, the people of Kuala Terengganu, Bukit Gantang, Bukit Selambau and Permatang Pauh certainly made up their own minds. And smart they were.

If one would like to save up some money from by-elections, I suspect that those who were sprayed with water from the police could suggest ways to be more efficient with costs.

At the end of the day this smacks of a smokescreen, diverting our attention from what is truly important: that while by-elections may be costly in currency, the denial of people's right to choose in the cases of three Perak party-hoppers is far more costly to our democracy.

*April 19 update: ...or a smokescreen for not fielding a candidate towards certain defeat!

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

One Malaysian's One Track Mind

The Malaysian Insider reported on new PM Najib's explanation of his "One Malaysia" concept.

And it seems that Samy Vellu's little tantrum on not getting his minister's post back has not gone unnoticed:

“The MIC should have been thankful to the government for freeing the 13 and not only focus on the two Hindraf members released.

“If we freed two Hindraf members, don’t forget there were 11 others. Don’t think about Hindraf alone,” he said.

Wait a second. The MIC should be thankful to the government? Isn't the MIC, as part of the Barisan Nasional, part of the government? So - in other words, the One Malaysia concept is about dividing the ruling coalition and telling which factions should be more greatful? Hmm...

Not surprisingly, between the lines, a One Malaysia promoted by these folks end up being Umno-centric:

He said under the One Malaysia concept, if it concerned poverty eradication, it should encompass all races irrespective of whether they were from urban or rural areas, estates, new villages or aboriginal settlements.

“It (One Malaysia) does not mean the policy to help the bumiputras is sidelined, in fact it will give implementation of the policy greater impetus so as to ensure that eligible bumiputras get their due consideration,” he said.

Further impetus - on a programme that takes out certain Malaysians and considers them as "special" compared to the rest. If that is Najib's concept of a One Malaysia, then it's clear which Ones he has in mind.

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Spin, spin, spin!

It was, to say the least, a tough spin. Bernama TV had guest panelists who were quick to say that the BN's defeat at the hands of Mohd. Nizar Jamaluddin was not reflective of the overall sentiment of Perak. They transfered their broadcast to Muhyiddin Yassin's press conference - right until the very moment a reporter asked if the BN loss was due to (now contested) Perak government takeover.

Extrapolating results apparently is not possible when the BN loses... but it's a different case when the BN wins. The New Straits Times website put the Batang Ai win by BN as showing that there was "no room for PKR" in Sarawak. If this were the case, wouldn't it just as easily show that the Perak win was a referendum on Najib's engineered Perak party-hopping coup?

Bernama TV even had a caller who voiced his opinion that the reason for the BN loss in Perak was not because the BN wasn't strong but the people didn't know how to "use their wisdom". And the favoured phrase seems to be that Nizar obtained "sympathy votes". Which, instead of indicating the sentiments of the people, is used to paint the voters as irrationally emotional. Somehow I doubt that will go down well the next time these same voters go back to the ballot box.

Let's recap the things the BN fellas - whether rightly or shadily - had running for them:
  • The elections were held on a day that conveniently avoided the UMNO elections - and provided a boost media-wise for the party event (not to mention the Hindraf ISA releases soon after)
  • The elections were held on the same day - helpful for the larger BN machinery
  • The PR people were slapped with a ban on discussing certain issues - including the Altantunya court case
  • Dr Mahathir's return to the fold and to the campaign trail
And that's not even taking into account the regular advantages of "instant noodle" development and media coverage. So far since the "political tsunami" one year ago (and many BN "post-mortem"s to boot) the score is PR:4 to BN:1.

At the end of all this, what is the BN response?

"Maybe the people are undecided, so we will have to work harder to convince them."
- newly minted Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin.

This, immediately following the by-election results with a high voter turnout and leading majorities for both PR wins - showing exactly how confidently the people had decided.

Like I said, for the Barisan it was a tough spin. And even a harder sell.