Tuesday, March 11, 2008

2008 General Election

Warning: A very long post.

The 2008 General Election has been concluded and it will remain the most monumental General Election ever . For starters, it was the first time I exercised my democracy rights. Then, Samy Vellu lost. Most importantly, the ruling government, who had previously overindulged the 2/3rd majority of the parliament for 28 years and clearly stood in the comfort zone for too long, lost just that.

Here are my accounts of the event, broken down into bite-size topics.

The Voting Experience

I'll be frank. I was excited. The day before polling, I checked my voter's profile on the EC website at least 5 times. I didn't sleep the night before polling day. Instead I went for few round of teh tarik with Ali, Min and Sesakri 'Reagan' Pillai. As expected, we talked politics and exchanged election jokes. The best one has to be the conversation between Pak Lah and Samy Vellu on a helicopter.

Pak Lah and Samy Vellu were on a helicopter. Pak Lah said "if I throw 2 RM50 notes out the window, I'll make 2 people happy." Then Samy said "if I throw 100 RM1 notes out the window, I'll make 100 people happy." The helicopter pilot turned to them and casually said "if I throw the both of you out of the window, I'll make 25 million people happy."

That continued until about 3am. I went home and watched TV until 7.30. It was time after that. I arrived at the voting center at about 7.50 and was third in line.

I have to admit, it was an overwhelming experience. For one, I felt like I was presented in front of the court. The lady who took care of the voting list, after taking my IC, read the number out blardee loud.


"Betul, puan. Tapi saya innocent."

I was furious when I saw there was a serial number on the ballot, but I did not see anyone jotting the number down (not while I was there at least). I stood in the booth. Honestly, I could feel the power I hold in my hand. What was just a piece of paper and a pencil, felt like a chisel and mallet that could either sculpt a country or destroy it. I put my mark and cast my vote. It was a vote for a change.

The process was easy and straight forward. Maybe because I was there early.

The Result Night

Earlier that night, I was in a friend's place for dinner. Few other friends were there and some of her family members. There were 25 to 30 of us. It was a joyous occasion. Most of the part because everyone there was hoping for a change. Then there were 2 TV sets, one set for election results channel, another one on football, 2 mahjong tables and a PC refreshing the latest news on malaysiakini.com. Her uncle was one of the happening people around.

"Lu punya kawasan Dr Lo' Lo' ka? Dia menang la!! LOLOLOLOLOLOLOLOLO!!!" (He did yelp lo lo lo lo, and it wasn't the laughs-out-loud LOL).

The rest of the night was spent at home in front of my PC refreshing results on malaysiakini.com and utusan.com.my for hot-off-the-oven updates and systematically organized information.

The Verdict

Before the election, I expect the PAS/DAP/PKR coalition to only cause mid-range impact, enough to get BN sitting on the edge of their seats, knocking them conscious from a comfortable fiction-dream that the rakyat is all okay.

I was wrong. As minutes go by, more and more
PAS/DAP/PKR candidates filled in the parliamentary seat. At the end of it, 82 seats were filled up by PAS/DAP/PKR coalition.

The state assembly seats this year was where the entertainment value is.
PAS/DAP/PKR coalition retained Kelantan and took over 4 more states; Kedah, Penang, Perak and Selangor. This was a shocker. No one, not even Anwar Ibrahim saw this coming.

The Yahoos

The parliament museum display finally gets the people's boot. Samy Vellu lost his seat in Sungai Siput. Two other ministers,
Sharizat Abdul Jalil and Zainudin Maidin, shared his fate.

PAS Mat Sabu who contested in Kuala Terengganu also did not win. Although I was hoping for a change, he isn't really the kind of change I was looking for because he would disagree to anything. He'd deny 2 + 2 = 4 as long as it is said by a BN member. Stopping him from going to the parliament is probably a good idea.

Theresa Kok of Seputeh won by a whopping 36,000 votes. How about that for a woman who allegedly leaks every month. The two male chauvinistic pigs who made those claims can go tampal your own face.

Although he won, Pak Lah's majority was reduced to 11,000 from 18,000. This is a strong message to Pak Lah, people are losing faith in his leadership.

The Upsets

Rasah parliamentary candidate, Dr Yeow Chai Thiam of BN lost his parliamentary seat. I have met him personally and I have to say he is a very decent man who has devoted his life to charity. It's a shame that he couldn't be the voice of people in Rasah.

And not really an upset, but Najib's win in Pekan with an increased majority of up to 26,000 was uncalled for. It's inconsistent with what happened nationwide and Najib Tun Razak's track record. There have been many speculations on why such inconsistency happen. However, let's give the poor dude a benefit of doubt.

The Analysis

Tun Dr Mahathir has accurately summarized 2008 GE: A show of a weaker BN rather than a stronger
PAS/DAP/PKR coalition.

Personally, I felt that the election was rushed. It has only been 3 1/2 years since the last election. Pak Lah has denied it, but everyone knows he was trying to avoid Anwar Ibrahim in the election has he will be eligible to contest come April 2008. The rushed election saw how component parties like MCA was unprepared. It was rumoured that Ong Ka Ting was in disagreement with the timing of election as it was too soon, but as usual, as soon as these rumours surface, the person will always appear on TV to say otherwise, without forgetting the compulsory "We are in full support of the Prime Minister." Ong Ka Ting's rumoured worries came to realization when MCA now only have 15 parliamentary seats, not even exceeding the number of seats acquired by each component parties of the
PAS/DAP/PKR coalition.

Also, the election could've been rushed because MIC was pushing for it. MIC, since the end of 2007, have been haunted by HINDRAF. As Samy Vellu grows older, he brings along the reputation of MIC, which now is seen as an aged party. And we know the aged don't heal as well. The blow given by HINDRAF will heal very slowly, and the only way to prevent larger damage was to have the election as soon as possible.

Probably the balance between the two does not correspond, and MIC too, saw a major blow. MIC won only 3 parliamentary seats. However, there are 15 Malaysians of Indian ethnicity in the parliament. This is a very strong message by the Indians in Malaysia wanting a change in how they are represented.

Gerakan has got to be the worst-hit target this time. Its president, Dr Koh Tsu Koon, who was also the Chief Minister of Penang lost the whole state in a total takeover by DAP in their own turf.

If Gerakan was the worst, than PKR has to be the best performing party component in 2008. Having only 1 seat in the parliament in 2004, PKR now rolls in another 30 of its members to the doorstep of the parliament building. One of the few (if not only) party that represents a good mix of Malaysian ethnicity, PKR is deemed the natural middle ground, a glue between the
PAS/DAP/PKR coalition. This also prospects the party as playing a major role in the future of Malaysia's politics.

DAP made an improvement this time because I think they have been true to their words by being a strong voice in the parliament since 2004. There were only 12 of them during the previous term but their presence were felt. This consistency garnered people's trust and rocket-propelled them in 2008 and now represents 28 seats in the parliament.

2008 GE saw PAS tucked in comfortably in the slipstream of the
the 'opposition camp' uprising. With that, it was not a surprise to see them doing so well even though they used the same formula as they have always been.

The enemy of UMNO is UMNO itself. Internal problems have plagued UMNO. This problem was felt especially in Kedah and Terengganu when unpopular and seemingly undeserving candidates were put to contest. Party members who disagree have no choice but either to vote for the opposition or give the vote a pass. This may explain poor turnout in Kedah, which in some constituency, went as low as 52%.

Much of the takeover happen in big cities where internet and new media are readily available. In KL, all parliamentary seats but one were either take over or retained with higher majority by PAS/DAP/PKR coalition. Other big cities like Alo Star, Sungai Petani, Kulim, Kuala Kedah, Bagan, Bukit Bendera, Balik Pulau, Taiping, Ipoh Timor and Barat, Telok Intan, Kuala Selangor, Gombak, Ampang, Serdang, Puchong, Kelana Jaya, Petaling Jaya Selatan and Utara, and Subang were won by
PAS/DAP/PKR coalition. And almost all the cities mentioned were takeovers. It goes to show that information dissemination through the internet has now established a firm grip in cities of Malaysia. Lateral expansion of these facilities into the rural areas will translate to a total reform of what information Malaysia acquires.

What to Expect

PKR will play a big role this time. It has the most number of seats in the
PAS/DAP/PKR coalition, and in many ways is seen as a stabilizing factor in at least 3 of the newly-acquired state. In Kedah PKR and PAS form the state govenrment with a PAS Menteri Besar. In Selangor PKR and DAP form the state government with a PKR Menteri Besar. In Perak, PKR plays a buffering role between PAS and DAP, who appear to have friction between them.

The handover of these 5 states will not be smooth. Any fool can guarantee that. It was translated when Bursa Malaysia fell and was closed when falling rate reached the day's maximum of 10% on Monday. But it won't be forever. For once, Rafidah Aziz made sense. According to her, the
PAS/DAP/PKR coalition will not do something bizarre as such stunt will only ward the foreign investors away. PAS/DAP/PKR coalition should listen to her advice, although it's a bitter pill to swallow. I foresee the rough times to last for the most 2 months before everything smoothen out. Don't ask me how I come up with the figures. It's a gut feeling on the most part. And gosh, I thought I could never use these 2 words together, but BN is now the opposition in these 5 states. BN opposition? Let me say that again.

The seemingly popular Najib Tun Razak will play a bigger role in the future. Hint: there's only one spot higher than Deputy PM. Mahathir sees it. Anwar sees it. No really. Have you heard any of Anwar's speech? Each time, he will pick on issues concerning Najib. Pak Lah was spared most of the time. Anwar is prepping for a head-on collision with Najib. Better find a new replacement for Samy Vellu fast because the parliament house will be on fire.

And oh, Wan Azizah will step down and Anwar will contest in a by-election in Permatang Pauh. I expect to see this by June this year.

And if you're a Malay, prepare to work harder. The way things are going, the Bumiputra rights will be waned off. It will be done gradually and I expect in about 80 to 100 years, it will be gone totally. And I have no problem with that. If you do, just ask yourself, how much longer do you want to be protected under the Malay umbrella?

BN will take their campaign and influence on a new ground (new for them). I'm expecting to find
pro-BN new media (blogs, youtube, MMS, SMS [what they hey, it works]) mushroom like dandruff on a sunny day. Rampant and irritating. This is one frontier that they have been neglecting, and since most of the candidates got the people's boot, they're strung out on mainstream media.

What I Hope to Happen

PAS/DAP/PKR coalition's first but crucial task is to work together and not to show any signs of weakness. Already in Perak and Selangor, some easiness are seen arising. Differences exist between PAS and DAP on the most part but this must be sorted out as soon and as smooth as possible. Dr Khoo Kay Kim, a political analyst made it very clear. If they fail to do so, then we can safely say tough time is going to stay.

Right now, the parliament have the right ratio of BN and
PAS/DAP/PKR coalition seats. PAS/DAP/PKR coalition has just enough seats to deny 2/3rd majority by BN but BN is still the ruling party. It means BN has the majority in decision making but there's a very strong force of check and balance. What ever motion discussed will be looked thoroughly at every angle.

I hope the ratio stay this way for a few more terms. 10 - 15 years is a good time. If a total takeover should happen, it has to happen after that period. Too soon and the power transfer is going to be rough.

This does not mean
PAS/DAP/PKR coalition can sit back and bask in their victory. We've seen it in 2004.The success made by BA in 1999 was not repeated in 2004. The reason could've been the change in leadership from Tun Mahathir's government to Pak Lah's. This change thus render BA obsolete before 2004. It is very likely change of leadership repeating itself and PAS/DAP/PKR coalition must have a plan at hand how to maintain its position in the next general election.

Lastly, I hope the media will be more transparent and fair in reporting.


In two words, I describe 2008 General Election as 'puas hati'. I'm satisfied by the process of election, how the information was relayed and the outcome couldn't get any better. Most importantly, I am satisfied because Malaysians are now exercising their rights of voicing out responsibly. Election is after all an informed choice. Although we have made our choice in the past, this time, we took time and dared to get ourselves informed.


Blogger Abu Soffian said...

Yahooooo. Aku tinggal n kerja kat Selangor

11 March, 2008  
Blogger Mohd Shazly Khan said...

Congratz, we made a difference! Lets hope to see the difference.

11 March, 2008  
Blogger Jaja Shah said...

feuwww jenuh baca

'puas hati'

12 March, 2008  
Blogger Unknown said...

ingatkan election dh setel..Perak lak banyak masalah..=(

14 March, 2008  
Blogger Azman said...

Aku pun terkilan gak.

14 March, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Azman, I agree with you about some pembangkang like Mat Sabu who only knows how to bangkang without being objective. And the lady who leaks every month is Ms Fong Po Kuan of Batu Gajah, but Ms Teresa Kok also had her share being a sexist victim (by another female lak tu! Malu kaum wanita weh!).

Lastly, dont worry la, most Malays can stand on their own feet already, no need payung payung la. Ni payung payung are just candies from UMNO to ensure their reign. Only totoks will fall for that.

15 March, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

P/S You write just like one of them in malaysia today la!

15 March, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You forgot to comment on how KJ has lost by 80 votes at first and won all of a sudden by a bizarre thousands votes. There's going to be a new ministry in the government i think. Ministry of Rempit perhaps?

16 March, 2008  
Blogger SaifulAzri said...

bagus...best baca ko tulih kali nih..hehe

17 March, 2008  
Blogger Munie said...

no more updates?

23 March, 2008  
Blogger Ali said...

dei race report dei...

01 April, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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01 April, 2008  
Blogger Jing said...

OI man!!! gua tak puas lagi lol...

02 April, 2008  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

This is great info to know.

11 November, 2008  

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