Khamis, 13 Jun 2013

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PAS must find genuine leaders from within

Posted: 12 Jun 2013 06:38 PM PDT

With the GE13 contested and lost, it must now find the middle ground to be a truly Malaysian party 

Awang Abdillah, FMT

PAS performed poorly in the 13th general election. It was in the end the weakest link in the opposition Pakatan Rakyat.

While both DAP and PKR did well, winning 38 and 30 parliamentary seats respectively, PAS garnered only 21 seats out of the 73 it contested.

Why did PAS fail to wrestle seats from Umno in the GE13? A month after GE13, it's a question that's still being thrown about.

PAS locked horns with Umno in predominantly Malay constituencies and performed favourably only in Kelantan and Terengganu although it failed to retain the administration in Terengganu.

The party, while scoring in rural and less developed states, failed to make inroads in Malay urban and more progressive locations. In fact, PAS failed miserably to synchronise Muslim issues with its national agenda.

Knowing that since the 2008 general election Umno was on the decline, PAS should have conceived a political strategy that would have enabled it to grab more Malay support from Umno.

But instead the party continued to harp on religious matters such as the syariah laws. They failed to properly define the difference between Islam and its syariah laws, and Malay socio-economic and cultural heritage.

While the former is more specific and is confined to laws and punishment on Muslims, the latter is intertwined with national and economic issues and was very relevant in the run up to the GE13.

Instigating PAS

Hence it was wrong for PAS to use Islamic teachings as a political issue to gain popularity in the election.

Umno's strategy was to simply instigate PAS' brand of politics and provoke the latter's supporters on the resistance posed by DAP on hudud and related issues.

To that end Umno used its lackey, MCA, to fan fear among the Chinese and non-Muslims about PAS' alleged attempt to implement hudud.

Umno insiders claim that the whole strategy was to pit PAS against DAP and finish-off the opposition coalition and any 'religion' was seen as a vital tool.

In Umno's war for supremacy, it was okay to even bandy the sacred term "Allah".

They tried to turn the word 'Allah" into a political and national issue by attacking its use in the Malay version of the Bible thus creating animosity between DAP's predominantly Christian-Chinese members and PAS' Muslim supporters and their respective communities at large.

PAS should have focused on engaging a comprehensive strategy to win over the Muslims/Malays and those in Umno constituencies.The strategy should have been religion on one hand and economic issues on the other.

By focusing on hudud as its main political platform, PAS allowed Umno to maintain its popularity by focusing on economic issues in its campaign.

The party was off the track when it failed to deal with national and economic issues which are related to the Muslims.



An opposition of jesters

Posted: 12 Jun 2013 04:38 PM PDT

Pakatan betraying its constituents for selfish reasons

Why the utter disrespect for the country's most august democratic institution? Given their insistence that the popular vote is with them, their absence means nothing less than a betrayal of trust. There is no escaping the conclusion that the people are the least of their concerns, if at all.

NST Editorial

BOYCOTTING Parliament from its first briefing onwards is to some "making a political statement" to others, meanwhile, it is foolishness unbecoming of representatives of the people. Pakatan Rakyat (PR), this thing that does not wish to be registered as such, but insists on calling itself thus is an opaque creature of the federal opposition parties that keeps conning the people. Now it is about not performing their duty as members of parliament  because, as they have been insisting, victory at the 13th General Election was stolen from them. Even as these accusations are being made, they are being addressed through petitions heard at the election courts. Why then this immature move by a bunch of grown individuals?

That the PR is adamant can be seen from DAP's insistence on disciplining the party's lone MP who chose to attend the initial parliamentary briefing, explaining it as important to his functioning effectively. And yet, the other PR MPs, who will fill the opposition benches, sitting as a check and balance in the federal legislature, felt quite comfortable to not attend. Why the utter disrespect for the country's most august democratic institution? Given their insistence that the popular vote is with them, their absence means nothing less than a betrayal of trust. There is no escaping the conclusion that the people are the least of their concerns, if at all.

So, it is fair to assume that they are intent on disrupting the governance of the country at any cost. Firstly, not attending the swearing-in ceremony according to schedule would find the usual media circus for which the de facto PKR head is a superb ringmaster, cracking his whip and hey presto, the lies he cooks up gets a national hearing. Secondly, if they stay away from Parliament for six months purposely forfeiting their seats the Election Commission (EC) will be forced to hold the necessary by-elections. This would be a truly irresponsible act because the financial outlay is large thus unnecessarily bleeding the Treasury.

Conversely, if they hope to disrupt the legislature and government then they would be sorely mistaken. In Parliament and at Putrajaya it will be business as usual because the opposition has in no way been coerced to not attend and perform their obligatory duty on behalf of their constituents. It is a pity that the country is subjected to such idiocy at the highest level of decision-making. These jesters want to destabilise the country; fail they will. Nevertheless, all this must stop and who best to stop them but the people whom they betray.


Shaping of post-GE13 scenario

Posted: 12 Jun 2013 03:18 PM PDT

Our nation's destiny will be shaped as much by the realities on the ground as by the character and courage of our leaders.

Shad Saleem Faruqi, The Star

WHAT direction will Malaysian society take in the post-GE13 era is a question on many minds. The future is not for anyone to predict with certainty. The spirals of history do not have a pre-determined, dialectic path.

What can be said is that our destiny will be shaped as much by the realities on the ground as by the character and courage of our leaders. Will they rise above the timberline to transcend race, religion, region and narrow partisan politics to persevere with an agenda for transformation? Or will they sacrifice idealism at the altar of expediency?

Only time will tell. It is periods of changes that test the mettle of leadership.

"Leaders of substance do not follow opinion polls. They mould opinion. Not with guns or dollars or position but with the power of their souls".

The rise of two major political coalitions is now consolidated.

This supplies political unity to a society deeply divided along ethnic, religious and regional lines.

The 2008 and 2013 general elections have legitimised the existence of a strong political Opposition.

People have begun to believe that some check and balance in Govern­ment is necessary.

In the recent elections, Barisan Nasional's victory appears to be owed to three disparate groups – rural votes in the Malay heartland; lower income groups of peninsular Malaysia that benefited from Government handouts and Barisan's safe deposit seats in Sabah and Sarawak.

The Chinese and Indian components of Barisan failed to deliver and this has led some foreigners to comment (I believe prematurely) that Malaysia's multi-ethnic coalition is near collapse.

It may be difficult in the long run for Barisan to maintain its grip on its GE13 electorate because rural areas are shrinking. Rural to urban migration is widespread.

The Malay community is the most prone to internal migration. In any case, PAS has captured some erstwhile Malay rural fortresses. As to the poor, if their socio-economic condition improves, they may develop new preferences.

Therefore, Barisan needs a new orientation and new policies.

Specifically, it needs to consider how far issues such as elite corruption and the perception that business opportunities are being monopolised by the political and administrative elite has alienated it from sections of the Malay grassroots.

While ethnicity remains a potent factor, other dynamics seem to have emerged. Among them is the rural-urban divide. Areas penetrated by Internet appear inclined towards the Oppositon.

On the non-Malay side, its withdrawal of support for Barisan is fuelled by official over-zealousness in the enforcement of Article 153 policies. There are a number of intractable religious issues, among them the recurringly painful one of conversion of minors to Islam when one parent leaves his religion to become a Muslim. Limited places in public universities, low representation in public services and the escalating cost of private higher education are also fomenting frustration.

There are real concerns about malproportioned electoral constituencies.

Given the above, Umno has two stark choices. First, to moderate its policies on a host of inter-communal issues in order to regain the trust of the Chinese and Indian constituents of the complex ethnic mosaic that makes up nearly 40% of the peninsula.

Such an accommodation is necessary to repair the shattered 57-year-old multi-ethnic coalition that gave Malaysia its enduring and endearing stability and prosperity. Further, a centrist approach is needed to compete with the determined, resilient multi-ethnic Opposition coalition.

The second choice for Umno is to succumb to pressure from its rightist factions to stop romancing the Chinese community.

The 2013 election has proved that Umno and its reliable Sabah-Sarawak allies can form a Government without Chinese support.

To the Umno rightists, this mono-ethnic approach can become even more viable if Umno strengthens its flanks by striking a pact with PAS and Malay members of PKR.

An arrangement with PAS and PKR should not be difficult ideologically. The main challenge is the extent to which power must be shared.

Pakatan Rakyat's strong showing is concentrated in urban areas in peninsular Malaysia. It is estimated to have captured 80 to 90% of the Chinese vote. Pakatan's weaknesses are that, despite the presence of PAS and PKR, it has weak support in the Malay rural heartland and very little following in Sabah and Sarawak.

A real debilitating factor against Pakatan Rakyat is the perception in many Malay minds that a vote for Pakatan is a vote for DAP and a vote for DAP is a vote for abolition of all provisions of the Constitution dealing with Malay special position. In fact, these provisions are deeply entrenched. Any call, even in Parliament, to abolish them will constitute sedition. Even if the Bill is introduced, it cannot become law without a special two-thirds majority of the total membership of the Houses plus the consent of the Conference of Rulers.

To win Malay trust, Pakatan needs to clarify its commitment to the Constitution's "social contract".

Despite the currents and cross-currents and the angry rhetoric, I do not believe that radical political changes are in the offing.

Our tested and tried unique formula for multi-ethnic compromises will continue. What we have to do is to sit at the table of fellowship and listen to each other a little bit more.

To go forward as a nation, we need to go back to the spirit of accommodation, compassion and tolerance that animated the body politic in 1957 and 1963.

Shad Saleem Faruqi is Emeritus Professor of Law at UiTM.


Umno’s antics could further damage BN

Posted: 12 Jun 2013 02:59 PM PDT

If it does not do some soul-searching and mend the error of its ways, then the coalition as a whole is doomed

Amir Ali, FMT

Umno in its haste to claim victory in the recently concluded 13th General Elections (GE13), has lost all sense of direction and this is going to damage the party's image more than ever.

In the wake of reformasi, the jailing of Anwar Ibrahim and the wild response by Umno grassroots in many cities forced the party to do some seriously reflection, with Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and his team leading the way.'

Despite being the Deputy Prime Minister during those turbulent times in the party's history, Abdullah had one thing in mind, get back the support of the grassroots and bring the Malays back into the fold.

In that exercise he listened to diverse views, including that of outsiders and this in the end helped Umno regain its glory in the 2004 elections, which the BN won massively.

Alas this feat by Umno is historic since the party will never regain such popularity as we saw in the 2008 and the 2013 elections in where Umno was relatively nonexistent!

It was never present in GE13, where the Barisan National took the helm of the entire campaign and in which even Najib Tun Razak, the leader of the Umno was presented not as the party chief but as the BN chief.

Umno candidates were massacred in the BN, never showing their true colours – that is of Umno itself, and claiming to represent one organisation under the 1Malaysia banner.

Thus, Umno's strategy in GE13 was more towards its invisible cloak that projected it as BN and not as Umno.

The question is: Would the results of the GE13 have been the same if Umno was pushed forward as it was before the reformasi era and during that one glimpse in 2004?

Umno seems to have also forgotten that the victory for the government in GE13 was that of BN's, not that of Umno's.

Umno was lucky to have won that many seats

Henceforth, is it unwise for Umno to talk and play tough when it knows that it will have its nose rubbed in by the judges and magistrates who have a new found freedom which they did not have when Umno was at its prime?

The arrest of activists and political leaders will surely not calm the wave of protests against the GE13 results, since this is the not the way to handle the thorny situation created by the just concluded but disputed elections.

Umno must accept the fact that it was lucky to have won that many seats but that does not mean it has the power to toy with the country's democracy and threaten the opposition with arrests.




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