BN and the Myth of Winnable Candidates P1

We’re going to look at some of the personalities currently holding lofty positions in the present administration and perhaps try and uncover the winnable factor that may or may not lead them to be re-chosen as candidates for the next general elections.

By Dato- K

The spate of by elections in Malaysia since the 12th general elections in 2008 has got the nation drummed up again for the prospect of another general elections which many pundits are expecting to happen either in the second half of this year or early 2012. The omens are already there given the fact that by June the Sarawak state legislative will have to hold an election of its own.

Many are wondering if indeed the opposition, after the hurrah of the 2008 elections can again come up with a sizeable chunk of the votes, and maybe shake the very foundations of Taib Mahmud’s reinvigorated reign (hey, the man looks 20 years younger nowadays) as the modern day equivalent to the Rajah of Sarawak. Though the opposition are yapping that they will ring the changes, many fence sitters are already beginning to question the integrity and promises that are yet to be fulfilled by the opposition in states that they are currently nesting in.

Even the government ‘touched’ media have joined the bandwagon, The Star recently adding spice to the issue by applauding the Prime Minister of his efforts to “only choose” those candidates that can deliver victory to the BN for the next general elections. Although the piece failed to provide an actual glimpse into what constitutes “win-ability”, it does provide us with a good platform to dive deeper into the murky abyss of BN behind the scenes politics to size up the current line up and to ponder if Najib is indeed living up to his words.

This first part shall look into the winnable factor from the overlaying picture of the existing government. Yup, we’re going to look at some of the personalities currently holding lofty positions in the present administration and perhaps try and uncover the winnable factor that may or may not lead them to be re-chosen as candidates for the next general elections.

One of the issues that must currently be spiralling in the Prime Minister’s head at present must have been how will he actually pick winnable candidates? Does he choose them from among those that won 2008 or by other factors? One simple solution would be to just take those that have won by clear majorities and place them as candidates. These YBs won by handsome majorities even though the climate of 2008 was clearly against the ruling coalition. As the air of arrogance is slowly creeping away from the opposition, the majority may well increase. But then again, Najib needs to also look at the past and present performances of these MPs, and whether putting them up again will lead to the expected wins that will finally hail his arrival as the accepted leader of all Malaysians.

The cabinet ministers too must be discussing this issue at length over dinner, lunch, golf (one particular Minister just loves this game that he is rarely seen in office!) and other events. Many of them are pretty confident that they will be re-chosen to represent BN in the next elections. Well, one particular minister, if the lurid allegations of his excavator instincts be proven correct, may well wish to be omitted from the list of potential candidates. Despite his credible contributions and flowery tongue, it might just prove too much for Najib to accept him again. He might not even last to the next elections if the accusers have their day with him.

What about ministers who were appointed despite having lost their seats in the last elections? One particular minister lost an entire state altogether and till today, hardly looks like the rising star that his predecessor had vaunted. The state is currently being run like a different entity and despite the occasional hiccups, many including those in BN are saying to be the best run state in the country at present. His party is in the doldrums, the leadership beleaguered with infighting and the faith and support especially in his home state said to be dwindling and fading. Is this the criteria fitting to be called winnable? Can Najib take that risk by putting him up again as a gladiator against the state’s present administration? Or is Najib going to risk his pedigree and future by putting this minister in a different state altogether?

The Women Minister is another candidate that many say will be poised for a comeback in the next elections. The question is, where can Najib place her? As a seasoned politician and leader, as well as the number one Wanita chief, this prodigy of the infamous Iron Lady had meekly lost her seat to a young greenhorn politician who also happens to be the daughter of the BN’s most hated enemy. Will she stand a chance to regain that seat and with it her dented reputation? Can Najib risk that? Or will Najib let her off by allowing her to contest in a different seat? Pundits believed that she will have to find greener pastures as she lost the seat in a place where she does not even come from. Will putting her in a different constituency change this, or will she be again rejected by the voters? Now we know one of the reasons for Najib’s sleepless nights.

What about other Ministers and Deputy Ministers who have lost their seats but were still appointed to the cabinet? One deputy from the East Coast is alleged to be even rarely seen in the constituency where he lost in 2008. Is this a coincidence due to his busy schedule or is he also mulling a change of fate by moving to greener pastures? Najib has defended his rights as the final veto in choosing candidates for the next general elections, but he better deliver the goods or else his maiden election could result in an even bigger embarrassment to the BN as well as his family name and honour. If he chose to stick by these individuals, we can sense that the winnable factor might prove to be little more than a myth trumpeted at will.

If losing a seat may be taken as a factor that leads to a candidate being seen as a non-winnable choice, what about ministers and deputy ministers who are appointed without even having to go through the electoral process in the first place? One minister from East Malaysia was chosen due to what the powers that be claimed to be a job well done rescuing the national air carrier. Is this the case? Malaysians in fact know that it was actually the government, through heavy subsidies and huge chunks of money that actually brought about the turnaround of the carrier, which might only be a short-lived fairytale with the present economic conditions looking plum to plummet again. Is he a winnable candidate, and if so, where can he be placed and at what price to the present representative who has served and won the last elections?

What about the present city minister who has yet to prove pedigree and even alleged to be a “flip-flop” minister by one of his allies? With a mountain of a problems yet to be solved in respect of the redevelopment of the Malays remaining bastion in the capital, this minister has yet to show his true potential and credibility. Will he be a good winnable candidate at his constituency and able to face off with the daughter of the opposition’s numero uno? Question is, he is still untested, will even the people in his constituency accept him? Or will he, like some others, fight tooth and nail with other aspiring candidates and ministers with no seats for one of the safer seats in town? Add to that another candidate, who happens to be the minister in charge of religion; who is also looking for a seat to cement his crown in government.

Now the quagmire of winnable candidates does come to play, and Najib is all silent about it at present. Maybe he has his options already cut out in front of him, or maybe, he’s still unsure about who and where to pick. The post of Prime Minister is indeed a tough one, and tougher still when you have already cocked out the siren that only winnable candidates shall be picked for the next elections. Putting the final touches will be the unenviable task Najib will have to do when the time comes, and the winnable factor must be considered.

For a leader and government to remain credible, the cabinet must be made in majority (and we mean almost all) of those that have delivered victory in the elections. These people are not only worthy of being appointed, but have the credibility and accountability for their actions. This is a true government that is accepted by the people. Many are already alleging that some of these ministers do not have the pedigree to be appointed through the front door, and have to be silently delivered to the cabinet through the back door. A few are even calling them not cabinet ministers, but “kitchen cabinet” ministers as the reasons for their appointments are known only to a few. The question for Najib, in his quest to actually be an accountable and accepted leader of all Malaysians, is to prove that his line-up in candidates for the elections and the cabinet thereafter, are truly from the tested breed of politicians who have braved the tempest and still stood strong and deliver.

The second part will look into those not in cabinet (or have been) and how some of them will fare in the next elections.