28 March 2014
The Kajang by election is now over. It did not capture the imagination of Malaysians as a whole because naturally we were more concerned about the fate of the tragic flight MH370. Now that it is all done and the PKR has won as expected, what can we learn from this little political episode?
Very little actually. The result was not a surprise as I don’t think many people thought that the BN would win. Neither did anyone really think that the BN would lose their deposit. Lim Kit Siang’s call for the by election to be a referendum against the BN and its treatment of Anwar Ibrahim was perhaps a tad optimistic. The fact of the matter is that the conviction of Anwar Ibrahim is not going to convince BN supporters to switch sides.
No matter how unjust it may seem to his supporters, the shock of his first trial and poor treatment at the hands of the authorities is something that lies in the past. The lines are now already drawn and those who support the Opposition and those who support the BN are more or less fixed as can be seen by the almost identical results of the Kajang by-election.
Of course both sides have decided to spin the results in their favour. The MCA claim that they are slowly getting back Chinese support while the PKR has pointed to the fact that they have obtained a bigger percentage of the votes and that there are signs that the Malay vote and the youth vote are in their favour.
They both may well be correct, however the numbers we are talking about are very small plus the low voter turnout also means that any analysis could not be very accurate. So where does this leave the political situation in Selangor?
Actually, as far as I can see it is back to square one. The whole reason that PKR forced the by election was to get Anwar into the Selangor state legislature and then hopefully have him appointed Menteri Besar. That can’t happen now and so everything remains the same as before.
Anwar cannot be the white knight to take over the state government and in doing so be on hand to directly deal with the sensitive political situations that their enemies will be raising (like the Allah issue). Neither could he now be the head man and therefore put an end to the supposed Azmin/Khalid rivalry.
We are left exactly where we started except a lot of time, expense and effort has gone into a by-election. What happens now is completely up to the PKR and their Pakatan partners. If there is a feud in PKR between Azmin and Khalid, are they going to let it get out of hand? Will the lust for power get in the way of the bigger picture? And what is the bigger picture? It is both pragmatic and ideological.
The pragmatic aspect is to continue to show the country that the Pakatan can rule (albeit at the state level) and do a good job of it. On the ideological level, it is up to them to show that they are concerned more about the positive development of the country rather than any petty political infighting and power grabbing.
It sounds so simple, but human nature has a way of making simple things complicated. The ball is now in the Pakatan’s court. It is up to them to provide an alternative the nation can embrace or they can show that politicians will always be nothing more than politicians, regardless of their party.