Analysis of post Malaysian elections 2018

May 11, 2018

Q: Where will Pakatan Harapan go from here?

A: They are likely to go nowhere except maybe in big and small circles from this point onwards. That is because the only goal that cements these motley crew together is to get rid of Najib. Now that, that’s a done deal. There is nothing to bind them together any longer. You could even go as far as to say their raison detre is well and truly served its logical end.

Q: How do you see the various interest within the coalition of PH settling?

A: That is a very good question and the short answer is that it is conceivable many of the component parties that make up PH will find themselves very much like the allies when they defeated Hitler during WW2. You see everything that they did before was predicated on this one goal of ousting Najib, so now they will revert back to their respective interest very much like how Britian after the war tried to regain its imperial clouth or how post war American policy became much more assertative and muscular to eventually flesh out the idea of pax americana.

Q: How do you see the trajectory of this reversion and is UMNO and BN history?

A: Mahathir and M.Yassin and even possibly Anwar will eventually return back to UMNO and BN. I see this as not only a very natural trajectory but also one driven largely by political realities, only because as it is PH is a very unnatural alliance where you even have previous UMNO politicians sharing the same bed with arch enemies such as DAP.

The PH platform is very much like a first stage rocket, the fuel has been burnt, its brought the craft to the planned elevation now the only logical thing to do is to jetisson it.

Q: You mentioned one reason for all the component parties with PH to fragment and revert back to their classical roles is ‘driven largely by political realities.’ Pls elaborate?

A: Many voters cast their support for only PH manifesto, they didnt personalise their votes to the specificacy of the respective candidates. So you could even have a yellow rubber duck as a PH runner up and it would win! But when it comes to servicing the needs of the various constitutiencies. There is a need for a machinery. A hierachical organization. An oligrachy. And BN already has all these in place at every functional level from federal to state right down to district and finally kampung. So they will use it. Rather than recreate that skill of arms from ground zero.

Q: Do you see Mahathir ceeding power to Anwar as he promised?

A: No. As I mentioned, so much had been invested in the solitary goal of ousting Najib that I believe too many promises that cannot be fulfilled were made. Besides you have the understand the psychology here. Najib was a protege of Mahathir. The latter was a king maker who eventually became disenchanted with his apprentice. So this begs the question will he make the same mistake with Anwar. Maybe this I leave to you to decide.

If people say or believe anwar will just come right out of prison and become PM of Malaysia and all this has to do wirh Mahathir, then you have to be either naive or stupid.

Q: Why do you think BN lost so badly this time?

A: I think its a confluence of factors. Most like to point to 1MDB as the main plank, but I am not so sure its that clear cut. If i had to highlight one main factor it was the low price of oil during the last two years leading to the GE. This forced a slew of economic policies on the masses which can only be very drastic. Such as putting an end to subsidies for diesel, cooking oil along with the roll out of the GST.

If you ask me had the price of oil per barrel stayed above $USD70, then even if one factors in 1MDB. The outcome might have been very different.

Nearer to the elections timeline it had to be the anti fake news law that was passed without public consultation. That worked against Najib’s public image and I personally felt it was ill timed and badly conceived.

The other factor is undoubtedly Mahathir & Co. Say what you like, but by and large most Malaysians especially the older ones still look at the Mahathir era with a sense of nostalgia and fondness. That is an aspect that is regrettable about human memory. We only want to remember the good times amd filter out the bad.

No one really took Mahathir seriously. As there’s an old home guard dad’s army quality about his election outfit. They came across like a political version of the expendables to me. Old gunslingers who have to pick up their six shooters to right the wrongs etc etc. That i imagine was how most Malaysians saw it. So that got him alot of sympathy and drama votes especially in the kampung.

Q: ‘Drama’ votes. Pls elaborate.

A: In the provinces or in the malay vernacular for backwater or hillbillied, the parlance is kampung. In the kampung never ever underestimate power of a story. Especially if it has all the theaterical elements of the clash of the titans between good and evil. To many voters the Najib vs Mahathir show down had a mahabrata quality to it…that is undeniable. I think you really need to be a spy deeply embedded in the psyche of the kampung to realise that things were not going to be as simple as what CNA or the strait times depicted back home. To me it was very complicated and there were many many moving parts.

Q: Will life for the average Malaysian be bettered under Mahathir?

A: Look here consumption tax is the way to go. It is not only right equitably but its also right necessarily as well. Because oil price are low and will remain that way for the foreseeable future. As for this idea of life being hard under BN. That is certainly true, but contextually grappling with the economic connundrum of rising cost in an age where wages stay the same or regress is the norm in virtually every mature economy in the world including Singapore. So to say life is hard under Najib is a bit of an ikan merah, red herring. As not only does it mislead, but it implies life for the average Malaysian can get better under Mahathir. That is not true. I can say with a very high measure of confidence many of PH election promises such as abolishing GST will never happen.

Mahathir may be a great statesman, but even he cannot escape economic reality.

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