The KT ‘bye’ election

(The Malaysian Insider) JAN 20 – Last Saturday, on the night when they counted the KT by-election votes, I was out for a dinner with my wife.

Suddenly, the people at the next table started cheering.

The joy was so spontaneous that it was as if Malaysia had won the Thomas Cup … only this was because one of the people at the next table had received news that Pas had won the KT by-election.

The people at the next table were all Chinese. It would have been unthinkable just a few years ago to see this group of urbanites cheering the victory of a party that threatens to implement hudud law if they come into power in the Federal Parliament.

How sentiments have changed since 2004.

Some of the Chinese hawkers in Pudu have told me that crime is so bad that maybe hudud will help to curb crime. Anything cannot be worse than the present, I was told.

Why is this change so drastic? BN has only itself to blame.

There is a Chinese saying: Bad governance (or tyranny) is worse than tigers. BN has been perceived, whether fairly or not, as a government practising tyranny.

The people, especially urbanites, are now so dead set against Umno that even a party like Pas, that was deemed to be extreme just a few years ago, is now perceived to be better than Umno.

Of course, that the outcome of this by-election would not bring about the implementation of hudud is one of the reasons why urbanites are rooting for Pas and celebrating the victory as if they have won a big prize.

The dislike of Umno has affected the component parties which are viewed as subservient to the BN’s lead party.

And the biggest of these components, MCA, has reverted back to its custom of infighting and factionalism.

Gerakan, on the other hand, has been viewed as a weakling without a clear direction.

This dislike, or some would put it as hatred, has not diminished since March 08. If anything, it has even grown more intense, no thanks to the Ahmad Ismail incident, the abuse of the ISA in the arrest of a journalist for her own “protection”, rising crime rate, the disappearance of a private investigator under suspicious circumstances, the aborted EuroCopter purchase, the aborted sale of IJN (aborted only after public objections), rampant corruption… all added to make this feeling more and more intense.

Although no keris is expected to be raised during the upcoming Umno party election, perceived racist talk about converting all vernacular schools into a single stream by a Youth Chief hopeful does not endear Umno to the public, as people view it as proof that Umno politicians have not learned anything from March 08, and that they will continue to play the race card to fish for support.

For the component parties, I can only say that the leaders are still in denial mode, hoping that perhaps one day the people will change their minds and swing back to them again. They fail to wake up to the reality that, with so much vested interests and the culture of patronage and money politics, it would not be possible for Umno to change, unless, as I have always believed, they lose in a general election.

On Sept 4, 2008, Singapore’s Straits Times in an article titled “BN’s Chinese Parties in a Dilemma” quoted from my blog this snippet:

“A Gerakan division leader in Kuala Lumpur, Dr Hsu Dar Ren, recently wrote in his blog that the party had become ‘a square peg in a round hole’.

‘No matter how good the reform undertaken by Gerakan, if it is still perceived to be subservient to Umno and impotent to push for changes within the coalition, it is signing its own death sentence,’ he said.”

Unfortunately, for Gerakan, this still holds true.