GE-13–The Great UMNO-BN Heist

May 7, 2013

GE-13–The Great UMNO-BN Heist

by Terence Netto@

COMMENT: Malaysia’s 13th general election will come to be known as the ‘Great UMNO-BN heist’.

Najib takes oath of office

Electoral larceny on this scale has to be seen to be believed that it can still happen in a wired world, with its perpetrators apparently confident that they can pull it off and expect the public to acquiesce in the travesty. Sure, faith in the credulity of the hoi polloi is the hallmark of authoritarians. The latter feel they can get Joe Public to believe anything they put out.

Long inured to this practice and unable to shed its reliance on its efficacy, the UMNO-BN government has retooled a famous line from Humpty Dumpty (“A word is anything I say it means”) to sound something like this: “Our version of what took place is all there is to it” when faced with public scepticism about any action of theirs.

This has led to some of the more bizarre incidents in the public record, such as the reversal, within 24 hours in July 2008, of the contents of a private eye’s statutory declaration on the alleged shenanigans of then Deputy Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak in connection with a famous murder case.

That surreal reversal was allowed to pass into the steadily accumulating lore of ‘Malaysia Boleh’, a phenomenon that owes its infamy to the 22-year rule of Dr Mahathir Mohamad, which was witness to an astonishing number of incidents which took place on his watch that beggared belief.

The top of this range was his one-time deputy Anwar Ibrahim’s abrupt fall Dr Mahathir-nstfrom grace as anointed successor to corrupt and deviant ingrate. In fact, these sudden reversals or volte-faces had left a once poorly-informed public – this prior to the emergence and popularity of the Internet – groping as to what to belief whenever something weird happens.

But since the general election of March 2008, this deficit has been repaired with a surfeit of stuff on the net, leaving Internet-connected Malaysians lagging only by a little in figuring out what is being concealed when government minders want their version of what has happened to be believed.

A Minority Government

Right now, the government wants the citizens to believe that it has pulled off a victory in Sunday’s general election.

An Internet-saturated public knows that not even the government believes in its own make-believe. A straight face is hard to sustain in the teeth of the results of the vote as put out by the Election Commission by midnight on Sunday.

Malaysian voters, who turned out to discharge their civic obligation in unprecedented numbers on May 5 – an astonishing 85 percent whereas the previous turnout had been 76 percent – are now asked to believe that 5.6 million ballots for Pakatan Rakyat could garner only 89 parliamentary seats.

azlanBy contrast, the 5.2 million votes for BN have netted it 133 seats in Parliament’s lower chamber. And we are asked to regard this sorcery with a straight face.

And why not!?

After all, we have been asked, in the last 15 years of our political history, to believe in the authenticity of astounding reversals in the public image of figures that have run afoul of the powers-that-be.

These reversals – their suddenness, the shock they cause and the nature of the obloquy the targets are subjected to – have paved the way to the point where the people are asked to believe in official versions of events (and even non-events) that recall the mindset behind a line from a famous Hollywood movie: “When the legend becomes fact, print the legend.”

Well, at least myth-making in Malaysian politics is open-sourced in its inspiration, taking its cues from prototypes ranging from the baleful Dr Goebbels to the benign John Ford.

Thus, in the next several weeks, the sheer disparity of a 5.6 million gross of the total vote, from an astonishing 85 percent voter turnout (11 million votes were cast), having yielded only 89 seats to Pakatan whereas the 5.2 million take of the BN’s has afforded them 133 seats is going to be the focus of BN’s capacity for fable generation to transform the incredible into the believable.

Crass gerrymandering

True, ours is a system where the weightage given to rural constituencies is such that one vote in a seat like Gua Musang, in Kelantan, is worth three in a place like Kapar in Selangor.

The BN tends to do well in rural seats more than in urban ones and so enjoys an advantage over the urban-popular opposition. But this is not enough to justify the upshot of BN’s 133-seat collection on a 5.2 million take of the total vote when compared to an 89-seat haul from a 5.6 million gross by Pakatan Rakyat.


Though this constitutionally-mandated apportionment of the more-weightage-to rural-seats rule has been distorted under UMNO-BN’s rule to bolster its electoral prospects, the scope of this skewering is not so bad as to sustain credibility in lopsided hauls that make a farce of the one-man-one-vote tenet of democratic choice.

The currency and stock markets have surged on the back of news of the BN victory, and the government can be expected to leverage on that good news. But elsewhere, there is a mood of somnolence that suggests this is one result that reeks of the myth-making of ‘Malaysia Boleh’. It is a mood that says ‘tak boleh‘ (‘no go’) to so immanent a farce.

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11 thoughts on “GE-13–The Great UMNO-BN Heist

  1. All of the Chinese population came out and voted for the Opposition only in Chinese majority areas. Hence the Opposition garnered the most number of votes throughout Malaysia.
    But BN won more Parliamentary seats than the Opposition, so BN forms the government according to the laws of Malaysia.
    I don’t see the relevance of the Opposition making this hue and cry over nothing.

  2. A good write . We have pondered over the rural weightage for a long time and it seems impossible to put it right. The task in hand is to investigate and analyse all the allegation of frauds and bring it to the courts.

  3. Electoral larceny – Netto

    The taking and carrying away with the intention to permanently deprive another of his property??

    Have they carried away ballot boxes with the intention to permanently deprive the Chinese of their votes?

  4. Is there a conspiracy between EC officials and UMNO leaders? The agreement itself is the crime and it does not merge with the completion of the crime. Unlike solicitation. Can you prove that?

  5. It would appear we have a regime that has clearly lost the popular mandate ruling the country. We should have invited international observers to see for themselves what went on on the ground. Why didn’t we??

  6. Dear Datuk

    I realise that living abroad for a number of years and a lack of real interest in the past on national politics seems to have made me ignorant about our country’s politics. GE 13 has woken me up. Unlike India where the indelible ink has been used because most citizens do not have ID cards like us in Malaysia, Its use in Malaysia was really targeted to prevent people from voting more than once.

    To my shock I found two friends of mine (I did not vote because of an emergency that prevented me from flying to my voting centre) who showed me 3 hours after voting their inked finger completely clean on Sunday. It was a shock to me because the purpose of it was to ensure that citizens eligible to vote did not vote more than once. It seems to me that our EC’s statement earlier to refute the claim by army officers that they managed to clean the ink off simply by rubbing their fingers against grass does not carry any credibility.

    That episode tells me that the Malaysian public must become more vigilant and responsible to make sure that we are indeed governed by the right institutions so that we can take the right stand for the betterment of our country -i.e. to see that our beloved country – and all the different ethnic groups in our country – actually become a developed one so that our people can enjoy a high standard of living that they deserve.

    It is my hope that all our country’s peoples (consistent with my beliefs from my years as a student learning Christianity and Islam) are treated the same as they are all God’s creations!
    Thanks, Nini, for your comments. We need more people like you. As I have said before on this blog, politics is our business because what politicians do affect our lives and our communities and society. Politicians can be irresponsible because they are driven by greed and play with our sentiments and basic insecurities. Take Dr Mahathir as an example. Does he really care what happens to our country when he plays up racial sentiments? No, because he has his own agenda.

    GE-13 makes us appreciate the work of civil society activists like Ambiga, Haris Ibrahim, Dato Samad Said and countless others who have decided that they can make a difference. Speak out on issues; of course, there are risks for standing up on them, but there is no alternative given the situation in our country today.–Din Merican

  7. We should have invited international observers….Bean
    After 50 years the government will say they can handle election without international observers. Why the need? Even if civil rights invite the government will bundled off upon arrival at KLIA. Remember the Senator from Oz who is deemed a security threat to Malaysia. He’s tried and found guilty even before given a fair hearing. Law Malaysian style.

    Perhaps Malaysians residing overseas could be roped in to be observers. Better stil;l as Malaysians are masak with the tricks and can easily spot a Malaysian versus the newly minted Malaysians with newly minted MyKad.

  8. Great heist all right at GE 13. If it is legitimized now, GE 14 will be another great heist. It is making a farce of all govt institutions. Let’s now sing “Negaraku”, we will all play along and rot along.

  9. MOHD…… you are blind and totally shut out on the day of election. Did you not take five minutes of your time to watch on you tube? Talk straight and don’t harp on your support of a party knowing defeat in the making. How do you explain when UMNO provided food and cash for people to attend their ceremah (kosong) when thousands attended ceremahs to listen to the opposition without food and cash. Use common sense to write or shut up and nobody will say that your mind is not working.

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