Anwar-Led Pakatan Rakyat now a serious contender for Power

January 31, 2013

Pakatan Rakyat now a serious contender for Power in Putrajaya

by Dan Martin (01-30-12), AFP

Anwar @KL112After bloodying the government’s nose in 2008 elections, a more experienced and organised Opposition is eyeing the once-unthinkable: toppling one of the world’s longest-serving governments.

Malaysians vote soon with the formerly hapless opposition buoyed by a new track record of state-level government, signs of growing voter support, and what its leader Anwar Ibrahim calls a sense of history in the making.

“I am convinced, insya Allah (God willing), that we will win government,” Anwar told AFP, evoking the winds of change that powered the “Arab Spring” elsewhere in the Muslim world.Of course we call it a ‘Malaysian Spring’, but our method is elections (not uprisings).”

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is expected to call a fresh vote in weeks,Najib3 pitting his Malay-dominated Barisan Nasional (National Front) coalition against Anwar’s multi-ethnic Opposition alliance Pakatan Rakyat (People’s Pact).

The 57-year-old ruling bloc enjoys deep pockets, mainstream media control, an electoral system the opposition says is rigged, and a record of decades of economic growth under its authoritarian template.

Few expect the Opposition to win the 112 parliamentary seats needed to take power. The three-party alliance won 82 seats in the 2008 polls, up from 21, stunning the BN with its biggest-ever setback.

But speculation is rife that Pakatan could win enough in the polls – which must be held by late June – to lure ruling coalition defectors and form a government.
Wan-Saiful“Before this year, many were in denial about Pakatan’s potential. Today, we see society beginning to accept that the possibility (of a BN defeat) is real,” said Wan Saiful Wan Jan (left), who runs the independent Malaysian think tank Ideas.

The country’s stock market has trembled recently over the uncertainty as opinion polls suggest the vote will be tight. One recent survey put Najib and Anwar neck-and-neck as prime ministerial candidates.

In a January 12 show of force, the Opposition held a rally that drew close to 100,000 people, paralysing much of the capital Kuala Lumpur in one of Malaysia’s biggest-ever political gatherings.

This is IT-KL112“I think it’s very close, and the party that makes the least mistakes will be the party that wins,” said Ambiga Sreenavasan, head of BERSIH, an NGO coalition that has organised large public rallies for electoral reform.

Pakatan attacks the ruling coalition, and particularly its dominant partner the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), as corrupt, repressive and lacking a long-term vision for Malaysia. Anwar says Pakatan would end authoritarianism and free the media.

BN could lose 20 more seats

It would lure foreign investment by attacking rampant graft and reforming the system of preferences for Malays that is blamed for harming national economic competitiveness and stoking resentment among minority Chinese and Indians.

“The people are committed to reform. There is a legitimate expectation among the public for them to see that reforms do take place,” Anwar said.

Anwar, who was acquitted a year ago on sodomy charges he called a bogus UMNO attempt to ruin him politically, has been integral to the Opposition’s revival.

The former BN heir-apparent’s spectacular 1998 ouster in a power struggle with then-premier Mahathir Mohamad gifted the Opposition a charismatic leader with top government experience to rally around.

The loose alliance of 2008 is stronger today, having since agreed on a common manifesto, and has shown it can govern in four states won five years ago, the most ever in opposition hands. Malaysia has 13 states.

“Cooperation between the parties is much stronger than 2008. They have done more to prepare the ground for new voters,” said leading political pollster Ibrahim Suffian.

Concerns linger over Pakatan’s ability to govern nationally.

Besides Anwar’s multi-racial PKR (Parti KeADILan Rakyat), it includes PAS (Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party) representing Muslim ethnic Malays, and the secular DAP (Democratic Action Party) dominated by ethnic Chinese.

PAS’s calls for an Islamic state are a source of alliance squabbling, but We the RakyatAnwar dismisses any concern, saying PAS realises the goal is a non-starter in the diverse nation.

Economists, meanwhile, warn that populist Pakatan promises such as free primary-to-university education could sink Malaysia into debt, while noting ever-larger public handouts by Najib’s government also posed a risk.

Najib took office in 2009 and has portrayed himself as a reformer but surveys suggest BN is still viewed as a corruption-plagued, status-quo force.

Eroding minority support, particularly Chinese, that hurt the coalition in 2008 appears to be accelerating, independent polls show, while first-time voters estimated to number up to three million are a question mark.

One top UMNO official told AFP that party officials fear the coalition could lose 20 more seats – it now has 140 – raising the spectre of a Pakatan power play.

“All said, Najib still has the advantage, but an Opposition victory is clearly possible,” said Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asian politics expert at Singapore Management University.


34 thoughts on “Anwar-Led Pakatan Rakyat now a serious contender for Power

  1. Brave is the man who can predict the winning coalition in GE13 which is expected to be called shortly. It will be a close fight, in my view. My own gut feel is that neither UMNO-BN nor Pakatan Rakyat will get a 2/3rd majority.

    Most people I have talked to tell me that they want a two party system in place. They also said that it would be disastrous if we have a hung parliament. “We should give the next government a strong mandate but not 2/3rd majorit, so that it can get on with the business of governing and taking the country forward. That mandate is necessary to prevent horse trading for seats and a field day for froggies. We have enough of politiking and crap. It is time to be serious”, they said. Let voters decide and may the elections be free and fair. Any thoughts, guys?–Din Merican

  2. My feeling is that Mr Anwar will be the next PM with a small majority,the more developed a country is,the closer will be the final votes count,as by then there will be free flow of information,watch the recent counts in USA and South Korea.The world is basically divided into two by design,half male and half female,for example.The important lesson is the free flow of information and the institutions of check and balance.

  3. Najib, the leader of umno-bn is a dud and he is definately not going to lead them to victory.
    sweet dreams umno-bn and bring your money to safety in overseas banks.

  4. As if many of us still could not see it. BN are going for the state seats because states control their own resources. They are going to ditch their parliamentary seats in return. So, it may end up, PR getting a federal majority, with almost empty coffers, whilst, BN continues big-time plundering the states that they control because the prerogative on resources comes under the state governments.

  5. morning dato…

    smell the coffee, please.. wakaka..
    the election date itself have always been Umno weapon- the element of suprise, so to speak… now it is senjate makan tuan .. it is being mocked, hehe.. so much so that Selangor is taunting BN sayin if you cant make up ur mind when to the GE, we will.. but not to worry, najib will still fiddle & diddle never the less.. wakaka..

    Political Studies for Change (KPRU – Kajian Politik untuk Perubahan by Ooi Heng & KPRU

    the result of PRU13, dato ask? Pakatan has a chance to win – it is as simple as that (that is a statement in itself coz this was never the case a year ago or a decade ago) itis immaterial whether it is a simple or a 2/3 win or even a hung scenario – it is a win that is the focus and rightly so.

    also notice the stance take by both side. pakatan are offering (i.e. turun minyak, ptptn, etc) more than anythong else – whether its true or not is beside the point. now look at BN, it is just attacking,sayin it is all janjimanis (which may or maynot be true – again, beside the point) the thing is, this never happen before – its like a role reversal… so do the math, wakaka..

  6. I dont know how involved this “Dean Martin” guy is of the actual situation in the local political scene. He forgets or don’t know about vote rigging by BN, postal vote, etc. If he was a BN supporter then I think there would be more credibility. Still all things point to a PR victory. He should read what the EC boss had to say of a clean election. Like Dato said, even if PR is in PJ, they should go in devoid of a 2/3 majority, notwithstanding please do not stop voting PR.
    PR and Anwar must now not become optimistic. As Ambiga said “I think it’s very close, and the party that makes the least mistakes will be the party that wins,” Anwar please don’t make statements similar to what you said about taking over the government prior to the GE12. PAS must see balance in their implementation of extreme Muslim policies. I personally think Anwar should do what LKY did to the “communist” block of the PAP, booting them out , using the ISA. ( I am not suggestion bringing back this ISA). DAP don’t loose the Chinese support by taking in Malay goons into the party (Aziz comes to mind!!). Very Important NO VICTORY PRADES.

    Let’s pray that GE13 puts PR in PJ.

  7. My recent one month trip to Malaysia convinced me that BN is facing an upbattle to retain even a simple majority. Most of my muhibbah acquaintances are now more ‘political’ than before and talking about change as they realise the missed opportunities. Main worry of course is the impartiality of EC and other government agencies under duress from ‘atas’ but the ballot box may offer enough security to mark X differently for some. J Gillard has called for an election here in Sep but that 8 months away while Najib is reluctant to do so despite a much shorter deadline. Must be something he is not confident about before, now or ever.

  8. I’d rather have a hung government than not knowing who are the froggies in sheep’s clothing. Let the froggies out of the box, as they are not worthy being in the government or even as election candidates in whichever party. Anti-hopping laws should be in place or at least every candidate should sign party hopping agreement – hop and automatically resign.

  9. Well.., i think the longer the uncertainty about the election date, the more UMNO is going to lose. The so called middle ground is bored, tired and disgusted with the constant politicking and negative perception. It has shifted considerably to the Oppositions favor, especially in the first time voters (except the ‘phantoms’, of course).

    This is in part because the youth of today can see thru the blunderbuss of puerile advertorials and faux celebrity cult of the regime. I mean truly, you don’t give free T-shirts with the ‘I lurve PM’ or some other cheapo tagline and expect intelligent and angst ridden young to wear it. They’d rather pay for a ‘ListenX3’ one on their own volition! The whole weight of the humongous propaganda machine is falling flat in the the face of continued revelations of cronyism, nepotism and corruption. Cakap tak serupa bikin.

    Race and religious baiting works only on those who are already hardcore followers of deviant mentality and ignoramus. It alienates the average person, who remains ‘persuadable’. The rulers have demanded exclusiveness and continued abeyance, but it will boomerang back and hit them in the cojones. That is the Law of Retribution and the second Law of Thermodynamics.

    From what i’ve been hearing, many civil servants have been bitching about forced mobilization to do their ‘Corporate Responsibility’ by cleaning and providing for their head honcho’s backyards. Some of the oldies are saying never in their long career, have they got to clean the silt, shit and longkangs of their head Goons in such a post-haste manner.
    The desperation of UMNO and lackeys speak for itself.

  10. Brian,

    I see ur point and do understand it but by the same token (of the same coin, different side, hehe)… i also see what anwar is doing. He is out-pokering (is this a new word? wakaka) najib by making those statement of intent. Granted those issues raised (i.e. EC itself, voters etc) and granted action are initiated but in the meantime while it bears to fruit (or may not at all) a momentum has to be build and maintained….

    confidence has to be seeded and nutured amongst the mast – this is uncharted water we are entering and the skipper as well as the crew are entering the unknown but the skipper must lead never the less and he must exhibit confidence in himself as well as confidence amongst his crew at all times.

  11. I believe that the predictions and “surveys” are largely influenced by preference of support,depending on which side of the political devide.To me both sides will have an even chance,something new in Malaysia.The non BN parties never raised to this level in the past.

    Having said that both sides will have an even chance,I will give an extra edge to Pakatan.Pakatan have thus far has been able to galvanize unprecedented support never seen before,not even prior to GE12.Yet GE12 saw that BN was seriously injured.

    Pakatan is much more organize now than before,the PR politicians are more noticeable,the proven ability to match if not better manage the states under their rule are some factors that may erase the skeptics on change of government .

    A clean election will give BN a run for their money.Afterall a clean election is the soul of Democracy .Its just not enough in having “erection without fail in every 5 years” as claimed by the former Information Minister ,Zainuddin Maidin in his “Our Democracy is Diifferent” interview with Al Jazeera….

  12. No elections please until both the BN and PR agree on the electoral roll. Citizens want the Party returned to be given the chance to rule the country without court battles.

  13. If u go by popular votes , the oppostion will garner the majority but the demographics is such that urban Bukit Bintang has over 100k registered voters while a number of parlimentary seats in the outskirts of rural sabah or sarawak have a below 10k voter count. , .the ratio is a startling 10 to 1… In other words pro-regime strongholds only need 1 vote to counter a 10 vote margin in a pro-opposition constituency At the present scenario , 80% of the nons which makes up 45% of the populace are opposition friendly… voting trend of the malays esp those below the age 40 are fickled but has shifted mainly to the opposition….so yes ‘ minus the bogus phantom voters plus dirty tricks of govt control EC , we are in for an upset in favour of the underdog…

  14. Revi chandran,
    If Anwar wins he won’t step down, it is imperative that Anwar leads the coalition in the first term, to weed out the miscreants at the top.
    are you untainted?? Semi Value untainted, thats why he was your leader for so many years??
    who throws the first stone? does it sound familiar??

  15. This time around the general election, Malaysians are aware of the political situation unlike those days where people did not take voting seriously especially women and young voters. We ponder at this time that young and old are aware of the present political situation like corruption,child snatching,murders, thievery,education policies,sex scandals and so forth. For the Chinese voters, their mindset is firm,hard and ready to go to the polls . Basically, this election depends on new young voters where they are more adventurous to go for change and not on loyalty to any political party except some depending on crumbs for survival. The voice of change is now attracting Malaysians from overseas who are prepared to come home to make their presence felt on polling day. Unity is strength and that is what voters are talking about

  16. The SUN reported Selangor State Assembly may dissolve on Chap Goh Meh 15 Feb. Selangor is what BN wants to grab back so. For the fine job Tan Sri Khalid is doing, if BN win then we know the intensity of rigging. New have been going about that Khalid will take up a Federal Post. Who will be the next MB from PKR then?

    After Selangor, what state is next?

  17. Ravi, as the Chinese say.”man-man lai” The sweet young thing has a long way to go. She must get some “grey hairs” first

  18. CNN is ready to predict the winner of Malaysia’s GE-13 – and it is not Pakatan. Sorry folks. False alarm. Now go back to your teh tarik and kopi korek.

  19. My latest addition to my list of “Laws of Malaysian Politics”

    The frequency, intensity and inanity of Dr M’s roars, squeaks and whines
    are directly proportional to the risk of defeat for UMNO Baru-BN at the polls.

  20. True, Mr Bean

    But consider the fact that the Central and Eastern European Communist police state regimes used to regularly win 90-95% +++ of the popular vote.
    Where are they now ??

    After the dam bursts in Malaysia, all the Mahathirists would have undergone
    metamorphosis into Anwaristas, all the MCA guys would be clamouring to join DAP, etc. (Just like how the Communist nomenklatura in Central and Eastern Europe have morphed into neoliberals and globalising capitalists).


  21. BN, could must wrest control of Sabah and Sarawak states because of the resources there, and also other hardware, mount their come-back campaign through attrition, should Pakatan get the federal government.

  22. NST Azmi Ansha: Pakatan’s ‘winning by whacking’ strategy

    All written there are her twists but this extract below are what I would agree with her statement that “Here’s a nightmare scenario: Pa-katan barely wins Putrajaya weeks from now but ….., the way they rule Malaysia would be “ruling by whacking” the opposition BN every day and every moment for the next five years ….”

    Would is nice is she thinks Pakatan will win narrow and that is the point.

    Of course she serve UMNO through NST and therefore she had to say Pakatan had no governance experience. What about Clean and Trustworth in Sgor, Penang, Kelantan ?…not counted?

    So what she meant was Federal…………….isn’t fresh with former cabinet members better than the incumbents who failed the rayat mandate of Clean and Trustworthy?

    Aim is Pakatan win first and then think about how to exceed the best for next five years. If Pakatan don’t live up to people’s mandate then they get booted if people then sympathize BN which they will since Malaysians are very forgiving, tolerant and SHORT-MEMORIED.

  23. Greenbug
    I like that.
    So who is the L? LGE? I certainly hope so.
    But where would Nurul Izzah be? After all the A-L-H-A-J? That would be at least 30 years later. Still ok, only 60+ years old. One good thing to note, I’m glad there is no K in there…

  24. About Msia politic journalists:

    They work for the papers work for the ruling parties: NST, MM, STAR, UTUSAN… they are under duress to dress their statements to favor their bosses. Knowing that such are bad journalism, intermittently they insert their subtle truths to regain back their consciences before they discourse into senility.

    So for next few months, it would be interesting to dissect their writings.

    What can also be sure is commentators opinions might be helpful to Pakatan’s nominees (sorry there is no BN sympathizer on this blog).

  25. once umno-bn is defeated and becomes the opposition they’ll clammer the loudest to reform the EC.

    “ruling by whacking” the opposition BN every day and every moment for the next five years ….” – Azmi Anshar

    isn’t that the modus operandi of umno-bn since Anwar’s reincarnation?? what has the ruling government been doing until now if not whacking Anwar?

  26. Reeper,
    Perhaps, UMNO wanna take a leaf from Workers’ Party in singapore…..Be co-driver so that BN can slap whenever the government goes wrong

  27. Brother Din
    My views can be read here

    In general during the Mac 08 GE 12, large number of seats won by both sides with razor thin margins. Several factors led to the loss of significant number of parliamentary seats. Of all the factors, Mahathir and Khir Toyo should be made accountable of the loss. We must however give credit to Pak Lah for allowing democracy to thrive during his period. It is not an open secret that it was Pak Lah that allows Anwar to be released. Anwar then unite the opposition into one formidable force.

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