In spite of all the rhetoric, Barisan Nasional knows it lost the 2008 Malaysian general election on March 8. The final result may show that it won, but if you exclude the one million 'stuffed votes', then this would translate to a loss, reports political commentator Raja Petra Kamarudin.

 

Politics is not always what you see. Even if the great Houdini or David Copperfield tried their hands at politics, all the 'magic' in the world could not transform political perception into reality, and vice versa. The perception was, until midnight of March 8, 2008, that the invincible Barisan Nasional could not be brought down. The reality is it can.

Another perception is that Barisan Nasional still won the 2008 General Election with a comfortable margin. Sure, it lost its two-thirds majority in Parliament. But it is still above the 112 seats it requires to form a government with a simple majority. The reality is, Barisan Nasional garnered less than 50 per cent of the popular vote in Peninsular Malaysia. Only when the votes from Sabah and Sarawak are added in would Barisan Nasional's share of the popular votes increase above 50 per cent, but even then only slightly above 50 per cent. In other words, the ruling coalition versus opposition votes were split almost 50:50. But then the ruling coalition comprises 14 political parties as opposed to the opposition's three. It was like a football match of 14 players versus only three.

Even then the football match analogy would not be that accurate. In this particular 'football match', the referee, linesmen and water-boy also kicked the ball and scored a few goals, every goal the opposition scored was declared foul, they tied the legs of the three opposition players so that they could not run but could only hop all over the field, and much more.

And even before the kick-off, they declared that the 14 players from the ruling team had one million goals to their credit. This one million goal handicap were the quarter million postal votes and the estimated three quarters of a million 'phantom' voters. The ruling coalition had safely tucked away one million votes into the ballot box long before March 8, 2008. It was already 1 million-zero before the football game started.

The reality is, Barisan Nasional garnered less than 50 per cent of the popular vote in Peninsular Malaysia. Only when the votes from Sabah and Sarawak are added in would Barisan Nasional's share of the popular votes increase above 50 per cent.

Yet, in spite of all this - in spite of the one million vote advantage, the mainstream media it controlled, the government machinery at its disposal, the police on its side, the Elections Commission as its fifteenth coalition member, the threats of Indians and Chinese 'losing their voice in the government' if they voted opposition, banning Raja Petra Kamarudin from speaking in Penang, and much, much more - the best Barisan Nasional could do was win only half the votes.

The opposition fought with catapults and swords against an army that had helicopter gunships, rocket launchers, napalm bombs, night vision telescopes, and satellite tracking devices at its disposal. Even the Taliban of Afghanistan did not have that hard a time when it sent the Russians packing back to Moscow. Yet the opposition garnered 50 per cent of the popular votes, denied Barisan Nasional its two-thirds majority in Parliament, and captured five states. If it had been a level playing field, Abdullah Ahmad Badawi would no longer be the Prime Minister of Malaysia.

But Abdullah is not going to remain Prime Minister for long though. The next general election, which can be called any time after March 8, 2011 and before March 8, 2013, will be led by a new Prime Minister. This new Prime Minister might be from the ranks of Barisan Nasional, in particular Umno, but then again it might not.

The opposition needs just another 30 more Parliament seats to form the next federal government. If 30 Members of Parliament from any of the component members of Barisan Nasional, Umno included, cross over, then the Barisan Nasional government will fall. Sarawak and Sabah have more than 50 Parliament seats. And there are another 80 plus in Peninsular Malaysia. And all the opposition needs is just 30 from this more than 130.

The opposition needs just another 30 more Parliament seats to form the next federal government. If 30 Members of Parliament from any of the component members of Barisan Nasional, Umno included, cross over, then the Barisan Nasional government will fall.

Even if the rakyat (citizens) are not yet ready for an opposition-led federal government but would like the Barisan Nasional government to remain in office for awhile longer to give the opposition time to prove it can manage the five states before being entrusted with the job of running this country, the Prime Minister can still be changed. And for that to happen, 30 Members of Parliament from Barisan Nasional just need to stand up and support an opposition vote of no confidence against the Prime Minister as soon as Parliament is convened.

When that happens, according to the Constitution, then the Agong has no choice but to elect a new Prime Minister from amongst the Members of the House whom, in His Majesty's opinion, would command the confidence of the majority of the House. Though this new Prime Minister must also be a Member of Parliament, he need not be from the ruling coalition. He could also be an opposition Member of Parliament just as long as he commands the confidence of the majority of the House.

In other words, if the Agong is of the opinion that Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah would command the confidence of not less than 112 Parliamentarians, then His Majesty can appoint Ku Li as the new Prime Minister. And Ku Li appears to be the only Member of Parliament thus far who would get the support of both Barisan Nasional as well as the three opposition parties.

Abdullah will, of course, pre-empt this by offering Ku Li the position of Minister of Trade. Abdullah hopes that once Ku Li is made a Minister, and of a quite important portfolio on top of that, Ku Li would not entertain any thoughts of passing a vote of no confidence in Parliament against the Prime Minister. I suppose even millionaire Princes have their price and probably Ku Li's price is an important cabinet post.

PM Abdullah Badawi's son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin, too lost. On the first count he lost by 114 votes. He then demanded a recount and this 114-vote loss mysteriously transformed to a 5,000-vote win.

In spite of all the rhetoric, Barisan Nasional knows it lost the 2008 general election. The final result may show that it won, but if you exclude the one million 'stuffed votes', then this would translate to a loss. Abdullah saw his majority slide by 7,000 votes. If the postal and phantom votes are excluded, then Abdullah would suffer the fate of Zam and Sharizat. In actual fact, Abdullah should have been automatically disqualified anyway since he never filed his 1999 election accounts. Any way you look at it, Abdullah is an illegitimate Prime Minister.

Abdullah's son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin, too lost. On the first count he lost by 114 votes. He then demanded a recount and this 114-vote loss mysteriously transformed to a 5,000-vote win. The great David Copperfield himself has admitted that even he is not able to perform this trick. Khairy knows he lost. Every man and his dog knows he lost. Whatever you might say can never transform this perception into reality.

This could never have happened if Umno had not turned on Khairy. Opposition votes alone could never defeat Khairy. It needed Umno votes swinging to the opposition to be able to do this. And this is what alarmed Khairy. Rembau was a safe seat. No opposition candidate could have made it in Rembau unless Umno too votes opposition. And this is what happened on March 8, 2008 in Rembau.

The signal is clear. Abdullah and his son-in-law were not rejected by the opposition. They were rejected by Umno. So, looking at what happened in the 2008 general election, it is not a pie in the sky for 30 Members of Parliament from Barisan Nasional standing up to throw their support behind the opposition in passing a vote of no confidence against Abdullah at the next Parliament session. And the same simple majority would also not have any problems in accepting Ku Li as the new Prime Minister of Malaysia.

The going rate is RM10 million per head. And although the cost may total RM500 million or so, if they can get at least half the opposition Members of Parliament to cross over, then the price would be worth it.

This is what lies in wait. And Abdullah and Khairy are frantically talking to each and every Barisan Nasional Member of Parliament to find out where they stand if such a scenario transpires. They are not leaving the opposition Members of Parliament out as well. Abdullah and Khairy are sending out feelers to see if PAS would like to join Barisan Nasional and be part of the ruling government.

If PAS agrees to cross over, then not only would Abdullah be safe from a vote of no confidence, but Kelantan, Kedah, Perak and Selangor would also fall back into Barisan Nasional hands. Only one state, Penang, would remain opposition. They are also talking to those from PKR as well and offering millions to those who agree to cross-over. The going rate is RM10 million per head. And although the cost may total RM500 million or so, if they can get at least half the opposition Members of Parliament to cross over, then the price would be worth it and RM500 million would be peanuts to retain the post of Prime Minister, unchallenged, and getting back four of the five states under opposition control.

Tomorrow, we should see the Selangor and Perak state governments getting sworn in. PKR will lead Selangor and DAP, Perak. That would mean two states would be led by PAS, two by DAP, with one for PKR. [Editor's note: Since the posting of this article on March 12, Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin of PAS has been named the new Mentri Besar of Perak. The DAP-PKR-PAS coalition in Perak has come to an agreement over the formula for the make-up of the 10 state executive councillor (exco) posts, with DAP taking six; PKR three and one for PAS. The 10 exco posts include the two deputy Mentri Besar postions which will go to the DAP and PKR.]

This is only the beginning. Winning the five states and denying Barisan Nasional its two-thirds majority in Parliament was damn difficult but still relatively easy compared to what lies ahead. We shall talk more about this later once all the state governments settle down.

The problem now is money and that is the first thing we need to address. And Malaysia Today is already talking to various parties as to how we can attract investments into the five opposition-led states. We shall show the rakyat who voted for us how we run these five states in spite of being denied any federal funds. Then, come the next election, the rakyat will vote the opposition state governments back into office not because of rhetoric, fiery speeches and promises but because of performance and the ability to deliver. If not, expect all these states to go back to Barisan Nasional.

Note: The above article was posted on www.malaysia-today.net (Your source of independent news). Raja Petra Kamarudin started the Malaysia Today website and his blog to facilitate open discussion on Malaysia's political and social scenes. A relative of a former Malaysian King from Selangor and known for his hard-hitting commentaries, which are often infused with humour, Raja Petra is also the author of When Time Stood Still and From Prince To Prisoner.

Other articles by Raja Petra:

The Aftermath Of The 'Bloodbath'
Why We Are Voting Tomorrow
Guarding An Empty Field







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March 17, 2008