Why the mad scramble (UPDATED with Chinese Translation)

Your position as division chief is not a guarantee or passport to becoming a candidate in the elections. You do not earn that undisputed right to contest the general or by-election just because you happen to have won the party election and are now a division chief.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

PKR’s Batu Sapi campaign off to an ugly start

The Batu Sapi by-election campaign by Pakatan Rakyat has got off to an ugly start.

Rumblings of discontent have burst into an open war within Sabah PKR over the selection of the Batu Sapi candidate.

Disappointed supporters of Sabah PKR chief Ahmad Thamrin Jaini instigated a clash with chosen candidate Ansari Abdullah’s camp at the Sandakan airport as de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim left for Kuala Lumpur on Sunday night.

According to party sources a quarrel broke out between the two factions and saw airport security stepping in to it break up.

The clash began after about 50 supporters of Ansari, a party supreme council member, and Thamrin traded insults.

Supporters of Thamrin appeared to spark the fracas when they argued that he was the better choice compared to Ansari, the PKR Tuaran division chief who is seen as an outsider from the west coast.

An airport security officer confirmed the incident saying that it lasted about five minutes.

He said that airport security pulled the two groups apart and they dispersed.

Earlier on Sunday, nearly half the crowd of about 1,000 walked out from the Hakka Community Hall when Anwar announced Ansari’s name. — Free Malaysia Today


That is the latest on the three-corner Batu Sapi by-election. Not reported, however, is the earlier party election where aspirants for division chief threw loads of cash around and employed gangsters to gatecrash the division meetings to turn it into a barroom brawl the likes of a John Wayne wild, wild, west movie.

If you are still in doubt whether a three-corner fight will result in both SAPP and PKR losing out to PBS, the expected internal sabotage will ensure that this does happen. As what Barisan Nasional said, they are not scared of the opposition. They are more scared of their own people sabotaging their party candidates.

And this will be the first focus of the Malaysian Civil Liberties Movement (MCLM). We will be engaging PKR, DAP and PAS in dialogues to try to convince the three component members of Pakatan Rakyat to change the system in how candidates in the general and by-elections are chosen.

Oh, and by the way, ‘we’ here means Sam Haris (Ibrahim) and me. Sam is temporarily the MCLM’s official spokesman until we confirm our office bearers this Saturday, 30th October 2010. I will thereafter let Saturday’s inaugural meeting decide the officer bearers.

Currently, Pakatan Rakyat copies the Barisan Nasional model. In fact, PKR is almost like a copycat of Ummo. And, to a certain extent, so is DAP and PAS. Thus the problem being faced by Barisan Nasional is also being faced by Pakatan Rakyat.

As what Nick Clegg, the LibDem party leader, told both the Conservatives and Labour: we don’t want just electoral reforms, we want political reforms. And of course within political reforms will be electoral reforms. And Malaysia needs both political and electoral reforms as a fish needs water.

The first political reform must be that all party leaders are told that just because they win the party election and become a division chief this does not give them the exclusive right to contest the general or by-elections.

Your position as division chief is not a guarantee or passport to becoming a candidate in the elections. You do not earn that undisputed right to contest the general or by-election just because you happen to have won the party election and are now a division chief.

Maybe it is a good idea that the job of division chief (which is a party post) and wakil rakyat (parliamentarian or state assemblyperson) be separated. The division chief should not be asked to contest the general or by-election so that he or she can focus on party matters. The wakil rakyat should be someone with no party responsibilities/positions so that he or she does not become distracted and gets bogged down by party matters and can instead devote full time to his or her job as an elected public officer (parliamentarian or state assemblyperson).

This is even more crucial if the parliamentarian is also a minister and the state assemblyperson the chief minister (menteri besar) or state EXCO member. Which becomes his/her priority? Most times the party post or division chief position takes priority over all other responsibilities.

How often have we seen EXCO members or wakil rakyat absent from their office (or absent from state assembly/parliament sessions) because they have division matters to attend to? Sometimes they have to go back to their divisions merely to attend weddings of the children of their local warlords or supporters. And if they do not go back and instead focus on their public job then these people feel slighted — so you need to jaga their hati and balek kampung, thereby neglecting your job.

As much as we may argue that one is able to treat both wives fairly, the reality is one wife gets more attention than the other. And in this case there are many who put party responsibilities or division matters above their responsibility as wakil rakyat.

If it becomes the policy that just because you are the division chief this does not mean you are going to automatically be chosen to contest the general or by-election, then the ‘value’ of division chief would erode. And since the value of a division chief is no longer there, the contestants in party elections would not spend millions and employ gangsters to ensure they win the contest for division chief.

Currently, the ‘backdoor’ to being chosen as a candidate in the general and by-elections is to make sure you win the contest for division chief. That is why the party elections are even more hotly contested than the general or by-elections. In the general or by-elections you can fall back on the party machinery. In the party elections you need to spend a lot of money and employ gangsters to beat up your opponents.

And this is why the Pakatan Rakyat party elections are no different from those of Barisan Nasional.

We shall continue this discussion tomorrow where we shall talk about preparing the ground early — deciding on which party will contest which seat and who these candidates should be so that they can work the ground early and not ‘parachute’ there the morning of Nomination Day.


Translated into Chinese at: http://ccliew.blogspot.com/2010/10/blog-post_8056.html