Friday, March 21, 2008

The Perfect Storm

Online newsportal, Malaysiakini's Steven Gan called it the perfect storm wherein all the forces came together at the right time and the right moment. Mahathir said there were push factors and pull factors. Neverthless this 12th General Elections in Malaysia can easily be likened to Phlippines “people power”. This is evident especially after the results were announced when a majority of Malaysians were patting each other on the back and congratulating each other. Even the owner of the Dim Sum shop I frequent on Sunday mornings told me how elated he was.

The people’s anger arose mainly because of being hard pressed and their businesses affected either because of increase in prices or because of the difficulty in doing business due to corruption. There was the hindu aggravation leading to HINDRAF’s rally. The unhappiness over the electoral process culminating in BERSIH’s 50,000 march in Kuala Lumpur. A former Gerakan loyalist told me, he was so angry when he put his “X” on the ballot paper the pencil nib broke and his hands were shaking. This is just an example of the emotion felt by the rakyat.

In short notice, thousands all over Malaysia volunteered as polling agents and counting agents for the opposition groups. Thousands of ringgit flowed into their coffers and suddenly it became clear change was not too far off.

External factors were the global slowdown and inflationary pressures due to escalating oil prices and global stock market turning bearish. The grand old man Mahathir could also be considered an external factor since he remained a thorn in the side of Pak Lah. Months before the GE, the Lingam case exploded which did not impress the public at all.

Internal push factors is of course the flip flop Prime Minister who does little to promote Malaysia in the international arena. His gaffs, his sleeping habits and his overall lack of leadership skills was bare for all to see. It was a major disappointment after 2004 when he retained many of the “expired” ministers from the Mahathir era.
There was also a sign of internal squabbling in the various components of BN leading to one senior minister being caught in a sensational sex scandal.

All these factors led to…..the perfect storm.

It would be good for the opposition if Pak Lah continues to stay as then winning over the Federal government would be much easier. Whatever brilliant ideas he has, he would have used it and we would have seen it.

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