Going The Distance (Selangor Times)
6 April 2012
There have been two consistent arguments used by the Barisan to persuade the
electorate to vote for them. The first and more popular claim is that we should
vote for them because they have experience.
The experience argument is a risky one because it can so easily be used against you.
I remember Corey Aquino, to the roar of thousands of yellow clad Filipinos,
saying “They say I have no experience. Yes, I have no experience. No experience
of corruption and no experience of stealing from the people.”
Experience is well and good but it is not the be all and end all.
It is a self-serving argument because in a system like ours, who has the most
experience? Why, the Barisan of course. Fifty-four years of uninterrupted
experience. If we use the experience argument, then the logical conclusion is
that Barisan will never ever be voted out.
A rather odd democracy that will be.
Furthermore, even at the very lowly level of our place of work, far from the
lofty heights of Parliament, we can see that the injection of fresh blood and
new ideas may be the very thing that is needed.
I say this reluctantly as I have been working in the same place for 22 years
and am now considered an old fogey with nothing to offer.
Besides, this idea that the Pakatan has no experience in governing is not
that accurate anyway. They do. PAS has been in charge of Kelantan for decades,
and since 2008, they have had Kedah while DAP has been governing Penang and PKR
The claim that Barisan should make is that their opponents can’t govern well,
not that they have no experience in governing.
In many ways, Malaysians are enjoying the ability to make informed choices
for the next election, more so than we have had before.
Our sources of information have grown and with a bit of discernment there is
much we can learn. However when it comes to actual governance and bread and
butter issues, I tend to shy away from the press.
Instead I speak to people. I live in Selangor and I have friends and family
in Penang and Kedah. It is not difficult to ask people how their lives have
changed, or not, under a Pakatan government.
The second argument that I have heard from the Barisan that if we do not vote
for them there is a danger of a hung Parliament.
The idea behind this argument is that there will be chaotic scenes in
Parliament with the majority hanging on a knife’s edge. King makers will appear
and whoever forms the government won’t have the strength that comes from a solid
This too is not a very strong argument. It is very difficult for the
Malaysian Parliament to be hung because there are only two major coalitions. It
is unlikely that the seats will be so evenly distributed that it will be
uncertain which group has the majority. It is also unlikely that there will be a
situation where a king maker is required. We do not have a significant third
In the UK, there are the Liberal Democrats apart from the mighty Labour and
Conservative parties. And for years they have been rather the laughing stock of
the British political world, but recently they have been the deciding factor in
the elections as neither Labour nor the Conservatives had a strong enough
majority and an alliance with the third party was necessary.
Where is the third party in Malaysia that could spoil a straight two-way
fight? Ibrahim Ali and Zaid Ibrahim? I don’t think so.
The point here is that there are many reasons to use to choose our next
However, experience and the phony fear of a hung parliament should not be