The Malaysian presidential elections


Although Malaysia’s political system is still based on the British Westminster system, Malaysia’s general elections, however, has transformed into the US Presidential election system, although unofficially.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Utusan Malaysia has started its attacks on Anwar Ibrahim. Well, actually it has always been attacking Anwar Ibrahim and Pakatan Rakyat. And everyone knows that Utusan Malaysia is Umno’s mouthpiece. If you do not know this then you cannot possibly be a Malaysian citizen.

However, whether we can feel sympathy for those whom Utusan Malaysia attacks and regard these targets as victims is another matter.

First of all, the opposition wants no-holds-barred freedom of speech. Hence what they are getting from Utusan Malaysia is just that.

Secondly, the opposition parties also have their versions of Utusan Malaysia (many of them, in fact) that also practices no-holds-barred freedom of speech and is just as vicious and malicious in their attacks on the government, Barisan Nasional and Umno. Hence the opposition is really no angel and is just as devilish as Utusan Malaysia.

This is almost like a street fight between two gangs. Both sides fight dirty and both sides suffer casualties. Hence how do we pity one side over the other? It is very hard to claim the moral high ground when you are no different from your opponent.

The next issue I want to talk about is the comment from readers saying that it is unfair to compare the Kajang by-election with the general election. This was in response to my argument that 2% of the Selangor voters (meaning the 38,000 Kajang voters where about 30,000 may turn out to vote) are being made to decide the new Menteri Besar of Selangor on behalf of almost two million Selangor voters.

“What about the three million Umno members who decide the Prime Minister?” they ask me. “Is this not the same thing?”

Now that is a most interesting question and is a question I have already replied to quite a number of times in the past. But since a number of people have asked this question (some have even sent me private messages) I am, again, going to talk about this.

First of all, the people making this comment or who ask this question clearly do not understand how it works when they say that three million Umno members decide the Prime Minister.

It is not three million. It is only 191. And all you need is the support of 100 of those 191.

And that was how Anwar Ibrahim managed to oust Tun Ghafar Baba and become the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia. You only need to buy 100 Umno members, mainly the division chiefs, and you can become the Prime Minister and/or the Deputy Prime Minister of Malaysia.

I remember a meeting that I attended in Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah’s house eight years ago back in 2006. Rafizi Ramli, Haris Ibrahim (Sam), Malik Imtiaz, and a few more were also there. The purpose of this meeting was to discuss how Tengku Razaleigh could oust Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi and take over as Prime Minister.

Tengku Razaleigh was told that if he wanted to oust Tun Abdullah then he would need the support of at least half the Umno divisions and to get this support Tengku Razaleigh would need to spend at least RM600 million.

RM600 million was not a problem for Tengku Razaleigh. He could easily afford that amount. However, Tengku Razaleigh was not prepared to play ‘money politics’ (another word for bribery and corruption) so he refused to do this.

And, because of that, Najib Tun Razak became Prime Minister instead. Ask Rafizi Ramli about this and he cannot deny it because he signed the attendance paper that was circulated around the table, as did Haris Ibrahim and Malik Imtiaz.

So, as I said, at least 100 Umno division heads need to support you. Then, during the division meetings, they pass a resolution that they nominate so-and-so as the party president and so-and-so as the party deputy president. And these two would become the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister respectively.

In fact, once you can get at least 50 or so divisions to do this, the balance 141 would normally just follow the herd. If 50 divisions unanimously nominate so-and-so as the party president and so-and-so as the party deputy president, this would mean others would not have a chance.

So they might as well follow the herd rather than nominate someone else who is not going to win and then suffer a backlash later when your candidate loses. The punishment would indeed be severe.

So you see, when you say that three million Umno members decide who becomes the Prime Minister then you clearly have a lot to learn about the Malaysian political system and should not be passing comments about something you know very little about.

You need only 100 with the first 50 throwing in nominations as fast as possible to make it appear unanimous. In no time at all, 50 would become 100, and finally would reach 191. And this whole thing is decided by the Umno division chiefs — so why do you think they are prepared to spend RM10 million or more to win the Umno division chief’s post?

Now let us go to the third matter.

In the past, general elections were between parties and/or coalitions. In the beginning it was between the Alliance Party and the rest, then between Barisan Nasional and the rest, then between Barisan Nasional, Barisan Alternatif and the rest, and finally between Barisan Nasional, Pakatan Rakyat and the rest.

Lately, however, general elections have turned into whom do you want as the Prime Minister? Abdullah Badawi or Anwar Ibrahim? And, now, Najib Tun Razak or Anwar Ibrahim?

Although Malaysia’s political system is still based on the British Westminster system, Malaysia’s general elections, however, has transformed into the US Presidential election system, although unofficially.

So, today, when you go to the polling station, you are asked to decide whether you want to retain the current Prime Minister or do you want to replace him with Anwar Ibrahim. It is no longer about the political party. It is about two personalities.

So, if you are happy with Najib then you vote Barisan Nasional. However, if you are not happy with Najib and you want Anwar to replace him then you vote Pakatan Rakyat. And that is why the opposition attacks Najib kau-kau while Umno attacks Anwar kau-kau. It is about the individual and not the party.

Anyone who denies this is either ignorant, naïve or a downright liar.

What about the Kajang by-election? Is this about two parties or two coalitions? Certainly not! As Rafizi Ramli the mastermind of Kajang himself admitted, it is about making Anwar the Selangor Menteri Besar so that he can use this position as the launching pad to march in to Putrajaya.

Hence the Kajang by-election is also about who should be the next Prime Minister, Najib Tun Razak or Anwar Ibrahim.

And this is not what I say but what they themselves have confessed.