Sunday, March 09, 2008

Has the Opposition bitten off more than it can chew? 5 state govts?

I was glued to the Malaysiakini websites (all 6 mirrors) until 4am this morning, refreshing the pages every 30 seconds to keep up with the results. Great initiative with the websites and blow by blow reporting, Steve. Even Channel News Asia was pulling the reports off the sites for their 'live' coverage.

But now... after the initial euphoria has been dulled by 6 hours of sleep... I'm like... OK, we've denied BN the 2/3 majority. But we've also won 5 states (including 3 out of the 4 largest, most complex and most developed). Have we bitten off more than we can chew?

I mean, railing against the government in Parliament and State Assembly is one thing. But to actually govern and become CEO of the state bureaucracy and machinery? And when the alliance between DAP, PKR and PAS is as loose as a pair of overwashed, overstretched panties?

I think from today onwards, the Opposition needs to show that it's truly a govt for all Malaysians. Their performance and policies in the 5 states, especially Penang, Selangor and Perak where there is a real mix of ethnicities, will be the true litmus test of whether the Opposition can be a viable Federal Govt one day.

Fail the state level test, and you can be sure the Opposition will be decimated in the next election. Pak Lah was sent to the firing squad yesterday for giving such great hope to the Malaysian public in 2004 and then failing them miserably thereafter.

Now PKR, DAP and PAS bear the burden of equal or even possibly greater hope and trust of the people. We have given them an unprecedented opportunity to walk the talk in 5 states. Fail us come the next election, and we will personally see to it that you are permanently buried in the cold depths beneath the Penang bridge and the murky bottoms of disused mining pools in Perak and Selangor. Such opportunities are not wont to repeat themselves.

I reckon the way forward now is to quickly decide on the Chief Ministers for each state. For Kelantan, it is clear. Kedah, less so because of the UMNO turncoats who delivered the state to PAS. Penang is also very clear.

Selangor and Perak will be most problematic. Although Perak has a clear DAP majority amongst the Opposition, Perak DAP has no strong, charismatic state leaders. In fact some of them were painted in pretty negative light over the Fong Po Kuan (Batu Gajah) resignation debacle.

In Selangor, there is a tricky balance of equals in terms of Opposition seats between DAP, PKR and PAS. Although PAS is clearly the junior partner, it is the king-maker if it lends it support to either DAP or PKR for chief minister.

So here's my take, if I were Anwar/Lim Kit Siang/Hadi Awang rolled into one.

Kedah - PAS MB
K'tan - incumbent PAS MB
Penang - DAP Lim Guan Eng as MB
Selangor - PKR Khalid as MB, to get the endorsement of PAS and Malay voters
Perak - having given S'gor to PKR, DAP for MB but install an Indian MB. Make Ipoh Barat MP Kulasegaran a state appointee if need be, for instance, if the Indian state assemblymen are not up to the job. This will bring the average Joe Indian into the Opposition fold for keeps, while avoiding the sting of 2 Chinese MBs in the minds of Malays but remaining an acceptable compromise to the Chinese.

Then it's the crucial matter of bringing Anwar into Parliament asap. PKR has the most seats in the Opposition, so it is only right that he becomes Federal Opposition leader. In addition, he is the only one with any CEO Malaysia Inc experience to steer the bureaucratic ship if the Opposition is to have a viable shadow cabinet. He'll also have the crucial task of keeping the Malay public invested in this new Malaysia, while being acceptable to the non-Malays at the same time. Last but not least, he has the unenviable task of bringing PAS and DAP together on a bread and butter, policy making level. In this respect, he is integral.


CruelAngel said...

Good point but at least they start clean…

Like it or not Kelantan is a well run state in terms of corruption control and power!

electrocutioner said...

Nicely put for Perak but the State Constitution doesn't allow non-bumiputra as MB. Hmmmm tricky indeed....

sean-the-man said...


I don't think so. No state nor the Federal constitution prescribes the ethnicity of any leader.

What it might say though, is the role and duties of the MB with regards to the national religion. Actually I doubt that this aspect is expressly stated in the state constitution. I think it's more like a traditional or customary role. Besides, what the hell are Muftis for?

So, though not as restrictive as you mentioned, I agree that it is tricky.

But you know what... there is a simple solution. HRH Sultan Azlan or his regent HRH Raja Nazrin can decree to appoint someone to take over these duties that will be relinquished by a non-Muslim MB. I doubt if anyone in Perak will disagree with the two of them. The sultan is after all the head of the national religion in the state, with whom not even the Agung can interfere.