Wednesday, 1 May 2013

Go to the poll, VOTE BRAVELY!

Wednesday, 01 May 2013 15:05
Go to the poll, VOTE BRAVELY!
Written by  Kim Quek

Pakatan Rakyat (Pakatan) looks every bit the winner in the coming election on May 5.
This is evident from the spontaneous and overwhelming outpouring of support demonstrated by audiences in rallies and forums conducted by Pakatan all over the country. In contrast, Barisan Nasional (BN) rallies are sparsely attended by listless audiences; and where there are bigger crowds, these are orchestrated with material inducement and obligatory attendance.
This contrast of popular support is evident in all urban centres and most rural areas.
That Pakatan is more popular is verified in an opinion poll conducted in the Peninsula by University of Malaya's democratic and election centre (Umcedel) during the period from dissolution of parliament on Jan 3 to nomination day on Jan 20. The poll shows more voters prefer Pakatan's leader Anwar Ibahim to BN's caretaker prime minister Najib Rajak as prime minister (43% vs 39%) ; and it also shows a greater preference for Pakatan's manifesto.
In fact, this poll result showing Anwar leading is an understatement, as similar polls in the past always show the incumbent power's support level much higher than it actually enjoys, due to inhibition by interviewees to reveal their dissent, which is a common characteristics of opinion polls in all repressive countries including Malaysia. An example is the poll taken by independent pollster Merdeka Centre for the 2008 election in the Peninsula from Mar 5th to Mar 7th, which is the eve of polling day (Mar 8th). While 66% of those poll expressed satisfaction with the status quo, only 49% actually cast their votes for BN in the Peninsula (51%, if Sabah and Sarawak are included). There was a credibility gap of 17% in favour of BN. I believe similar gap persists in current polls, though with varying magnitude.
Opinion polls taken in recent months also show a steady decline of support for BN as well as for PM Najib, which trend is a repeat of the phenomenon in 2008. If the latter holds true, we should expect a further plunge of electoral support for BN in the closing days of the election.
There is a simple explanation for this phenomenon. Malaysia's mass media, save the Internet, is tightly controlled and used by BN as political propaganda tool to do only self praise and to slander the opposition - all year round. The opposition has no access whatsoever to these media, not even during election period. Needless to say, incessant scandals of high corruption and abuse of power committed by BN are routinely and effectively swept under the carpet - for most people.
However, during the election campaign period when more than 500 rallies a day are held all over the country, such embargo of bad news (for BN) is broken, as opposition leaders relentlessly expose and highlight the sins and excesses of the BN regime committed over the years. These dirty BN linens are then contrasted with the corruption-free and sound governance found in the Pakatan-administered states.
Such a quick course of political education for the public helps to bring out a more balanced perspective of the true political picture of the country, in particular, the merits and demerits of the two contenders competing for the mandate to manage the country for the next five years.
Under the circumstances, it is only logical that public opinion has shifted, and will continue to shift in favour of Pakatan Rakyat as election campaign progresses.
How could it be otherwise when BN has wasted the past five years and the country's enormous resources on propaganda trumpeting phony reforms, while the decadence of the regime has gone from bad to worse in every aspect?
Starting from the current election, it is sad that the campaigns have been marred by an unprecedented rise of the culture of violence and slander perpetrated mainly by BN, with impunity from the law enforcers; while the scandal-ridden and politically partisan Election Commission (EC) has not only failed to carry out any meaningful reform, but has worsened the unleveled playing field by infusing even more phantom voters into the electoral roll.
On the political front, the nation is more polarised than ever, as the extremist faction in Umno has been diligently spewing racial and religious poison to fan primordial fervor so as to strengthen Umno's racist vote bank.
Economically, PM Najib has brought the nation to a financial precipice by splurging irresponsibly and doubling public debt during his premiership to reach its statutory limit, without bringing commensurate economic benefit. Our economy continues to mire in the what the World Bank frequently refers to as our "middle income trap", with corruption and cronyism raging unabated.
That Umno has no political will to institute any reform is demonstrated in the failure to resolve to fruition, numerous long standing mega scandals of criminal acts committed by BN leaders, such as:
World famous timber baron, the Chief Minister of Sarawak Taib Mahmud's multi-billion timber and land corruption scandal. The Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) remains mum on this case despite having received a mountain of documentary evidence of such crime over the past years.
Sabah Chief Minister Musa Aman's timber corruption scandal, highlighted by his money laundering agent Michael Chia being caught red-handed with RM40 million worth of currency at the Hong Kong International airport.
Sabah's "Project M" (M stands for Mahathir) - a clandestine project masterminded by Mahathir that has altered the Sabah demography to enable Umno to achieve political hegemony through illegal granting of hundreds of thousands of citizenship and voting rights to Muslim immigrants. No culprit has been nailed for this high treason and sell-out of Sabahans' sovereignty.
The RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) corruption scandal where BN leaders ripped off hundreds of million of ringgit of public funds. No culprit has been properly charged and convicted.
The National Feedlot Corporation (NFC) scandal where then Women's Minister Shahrizat Jalil's family squandered a RM250million soft loan without fulfilling its contractual obligations.
The Altantuya murder with alleged link to PM Najib in the corruption-ridden, multi-billion Scorpene submarine purchase. The true culprits remain at large, after going through years of dubious investigation and compromised court trial.
Justice has not been given to the late Teoh Beng Hock who died 4 years ago in the hands of MACC, despite PM Najib's vow at the outset to accord justice to Teoh's family, and despite going through a death inquest and a royal commission of inquiry.
It will be seen from these high profile failure of the BN regime and numerous other unresolved BN scandals that the rule of law has broken down, and the rotten BN ship is beyond repair.
Despite the clamp down on news in the BN-controlled media, bits and pieces of these scandals have filtered down to the masses from time to time through the Internet; and coupled with the intensive publicity given to these crimes during this time of election fever, public awareness of the true picture is heightened.
The consequential public disillusion and anger will inevitably translate into votes on polling day. It is anticipated that BN's share of popular votes will plunge substantially below 50%. Such a reduction of votes for BN should see Pakatan winning the poll with a simple majority.
However, in the event that BN scrapes through with a thin majority due to gerrymandering and strategic infusion of phantom voters, the battered BN will not survive for long.
It is the consensus of honest analysts and observers that Umno's partners MCA (a ‘Chinese only’ party), Gerakan and MIC (an ‘Indians only’ party) are destined for virtual annihilation come polling day, as they have long lost the support of their respective communities.
Umno (a ‘Malays only’ party) will then be completely isolated in the Peninsula, having lost its other communal partners which purport to represent the Chinese and Indian communities respectively. The BN structure will then be a lone ranger communal party Umno in West Malaysia, partnered by fringe political parties in the East Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak representing the various races there.
Can such a BN coalition command the confidence and trust of West Malaysians? Is such a BN rule tenable and sustainable economically and politically over the longer period?
The answer is an emphatic no. No investor of substance, whether local or foreign, would consider pumping his millions for long term investment into the country henceforth. The Malaysian economy,which has been suffering from a drought of private investment since the Asian fianacial crisis in the late nineties, and further hampered by increasing net FDI outflow in recent years, will shrivel in no time, bringing catastrophe to the country.
In such a scenario, the crippled coalition of communal parties known as BN will not survive the first session of parliament due to anticipated mass defection from the sinking ship.
The days of BN is virtually numbered, and Malaysian voters who have decided to dump BN should take heart that they will not have to face a surviving and vindictive BN government delivering its vengeful blows.
Go to the poll. Vote bravely. A brighter Malaysia is awaiting us all.
Kim Quek is the author of banned book The March to Putrajaya