NOT Battle for Kajang BUT Battle of Kajang


Even before the dubious early ballots are cast, the first salvoes of the battle, if not ear-splitting, are already side-splitting.

Tan Jooi Long, The Ant Daily

Battles win wars, remove inept regimes, and inevitably reshape political landscapes.

Napoleon Bonaparte’s defeat at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815 ended French domination of Europe and began a period of peace on the continent that lasted for nearly half a century.

The loss forced Napoleon into exile, and ended France’s legacy of greatness, which it has never regained, so much so that “Waterloo” has come to mean decisive and complete defeat.

So whose Waterloo would the Kajang by-election be on March 23?

Even before the dubious early ballots are cast, the first salvoes of the battle, if not ear-splitting, are already side-splitting.

To begin with, in announcing his independent candidacy, Datuk Zaid Ibrahim proclaimed himself more credible than Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. “I have changed parties, yes. But I never wavered.”

Of course he left it unexplained why up to just the previous week, he had supported Anwar to be the opposition flag-bearer in the by-election.

On the other hand, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai has vowed to “bury” Anwar. “Since he dug a hole, we will cover it, we will bury him. He manipulated the democratic process and created a by-election.”

This coming from an MCA president elected by pre-contract with his nemesis?

His utterance is reminiscent of the famous last words of Union commander Major-General John Sedgwick who was killed by sniper fire in the American Civil War.

As his corps was probing skirmish lines ahead of Confederate defences, enemy sharpshooters were about 900 metres away and their shots caused members of his staff and men to duck for cover.

Sedgwick strode around in the open and was quoted as saying, “What? Men dodging this way for single bullets? What will you do when they open fire along the whole line?

“I’m ashamed of you, dodging that way. They couldn’t hit an elephant at this distance.” Just seconds later, he fell forward with a bullet hole below his left eye.

Liow may not be lined up in a sniper’s gunsight but his bravado for Kajang was brought down to earth by none other than a Barisan Nasional colleague.

Datuk Seri Subahan Kamal, a Selangor Umno assemblyman who was defeated at GE13, said that any attempt by BN to face off with Anwar would be doomed.

He said BN should instead concentrate on shoring up the ringgit and changing the mindset of the rakyat regarding the price hikes.

“Barisan Nasional is unpopular today. Some of us lost not because we didn’t work but simply because voters don’t like BN. We need to stop dreaming and address this before the next general election,” he said.

So there you have it. Kajang is not merely a battle for one of 56 seats in the Selangor assembly but rather the Battle of Kajang which will determine the future government in Putrajaya itself.

But first Anwar has to go through the formality of getting elected. Then he faces the gauntlet of being appointed menteri besar of the economically most powerful and visible state of Malaysia.

Knowing Anwar, he will use the office of chief executive in Selangor as the shadow prime ministership of the nation.

For that reason and that reason alone, he faces formidable odds to getting appointed.

Lined up against him are the powers that be ranging from the might of Umno to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on one hand, and Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and PAS on the other. The Sultan of Selangor is an imponderable.

Que sera sera? Whatever will be will be is hardly the style of the prime minister-in-waiting.

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