It's Not A Threat

Anwar Ibrahim's return to the Parliament and officially becoming the Opposition Leader, marks more than just a political comeback for a strongman, but the entry of Malaysia's political struggle into yet another important watershed.

Whether you like it or not, you have to admit that Anwar, despite all the sex allegations against him, has passed the Permatang Pauh by-election, and proves once again his formidable prowess, exceptional wisdom, popularity and charms. Ther are few, if any, in UMNO today that can challenge him.

Without the slightest doubts, BN has lost in this by-election, and lost more horribly than in the March general elections. The biggest loser is none other than UMNO itself.

Many people are still suspicous of Anwar's claim to unseat the existing government on 16 September. While some are looking forward to it, others give it a cold shoulder. As an onlooker outside the political battle ground, we could only say: Let's see!

To the people in the street, the climax-filled political struggle does offer some excitement, but almost half a year of endless infighting has also made many feel helpless. Malaysians are beginning to get bored, anxious and restless.

Each time when an election war is launched, we see the massive mobilisation of human and material resources. Everyone knew about the results ever since the very beginning of the by-election campaign. However, what concern them are the process of the entire campaign, the campaign strategy and culture manifested in this by-election, as well as its significance and influences.

If the political tsunami of the March elections had not taken place, and if the lead role in this by-election were not Anwar, this by-election would have been just another insignificant by-election not worthy of all the fad, as some UMNO politicos have claimed.

The thing is, this is not just an ordinary by-election, but the first after the March general elections. To BN and Pakatan Rakyat alike, this is a unique opportunity for the voters to evaluate the performances of these two alliances over the past half a year. To Pak Lah, Najib and Anwar in particular, this is a litmus test of their popularity and acceptance.

This is a by-election that carries a lot of significance, and its results could have catalytic effects in bringing about a major turning point in the country's history. It will not only catalyse the internal reforms within UMNO, which forms the country's political backbone, but will also have some delicate influences over UMNO's upcoming party elections as well as the country's future political trends. The by-election has not only drawn much attention within the country, but is also closely watched by international media.

Unfortunately, this has not been a clean election, with venomous racial discourse, dirty smearing acts and rascally behaviours showing up within the ten-day campaign period, enough to make this Permatang Pauh a very filthy one.

In a democratic country, overly aggressive remarks and behaviours do pop up during election campaigns, and this is understandable. However, politicians must also know that such remarks and behaviours will not end with the conclusion of the election war. Just like UMNO Bukit Bendera divisional chief Ahmad Ismail, who has become the best campaginer for PKR with his "Chinese squatting in Malaysia" remarks, will continue to have the amazing "disintegration" effects long after the by-election, which to the people, society and nation is an indelible damage.

The good thing is, through this by-election, Permatang Pauh voters have delivered a very clear message with their ballots, on behalf of all Malaysians: We have had enough of racist politics! we abhor racist politics!

Behind such a powerful message is the desire for a more just, liberal and equitable mode of governance.

"Yes, Change we can believe in!" is the campaign slogan for US democrat presidential nominee, which is also the common voice for millions of Malaysians today. From March general elections to the Permatang Pauh by-election, they have strongly delivered this message. If BN still remains inactive and continues to come out with extremist remarks, then even if Pakatan's "916" plan is nothing more than just a political gimmick eventually, BN will still have to come face to face with the risks of disintegration.

This is not a threat, but a well-intentioned reminder!

(By LIM MUN FAH/Translated by DOMINIC LOH/Sin Chew Daily)
MySinchew
2008.08.29

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