Saturday, October 24, 2009

Why Isa won

By Concerned Malaysian,

I have been reading all that has been written about the Bagan Pinang by-election results and the implications and thought I should say something. Let's look at what factors influenced the voters.

The Isa factor had a major influence on how the voters picked their candidate. Isa is immensely popular among the voters of all races. Whether it is rightly or wrongly placed it was very clear that he was popular.

Why I say it is rightly or wrongly is because, he just like every other politician, used tax payers money to gain that popularity through handouts. For a matured electorate this practice should be unacceptable as the money is ours anyway and who are you to use our money at your discretion?

The Indians in particular was disenchanted with the way Pakatan Rakyat government handled the Kampung Buah Pala situation. A promise was made during the election campaign in 2008 and there was no real effort to fulfill that promise.

All sorts of excuses were given on why Kampung Buah Pala could not be saved. Compromise and compensation was simply not good enough. It was like a betrayal to the community.

Lim Guan Eng had won a lot of respect when he was prepared to go to jail for the cause of a underaged Malay girl - a true reflection of the Malaysian spirit but where did this go in Kampung Buah Pala?

He also won a lot of respect when he was featured as the chief minister who travelled economy class. This differentiated him from the way BN politicians spend lavishly on themselves. However the perception I got from the many reports, is that he was arrogant and laid conditions for his meeting with the residents.

That was uncalled for as the famous saying that "everyone matters" was ignored. Anwar Ibrahim, the default leader of Pakatan Rakyat, was as usual missing in action when controversies crop up.

The postal votes had a major bearing on the outcome of the results. It was a forgone conclusion that the majority of the votes will go to BN.

Pakatan's commitment against corruption in the states that they govern has not been impressive. One, here we have the champions of corruption suddenly exposed to corrupt practices themselves as in the case of Perak, Penang and Selangor.

Although it has not been proven but the fact that the two assembly men are charged in court (who have also defected) does not bode well for Pakatan in Perak.

In Selangor, we have MACC investigating several Pakatan state assemblymen and if there is even the slightest evidence of corrupt practice, it will be enough to kill the anti-corruption champions.

We have a PJ councillor who made a public statement that all contracts will be divided 40-30-30. We have a Pakatan MP who defends such practices by claiming that politicians can make recommendations but that does not mean that it has to be awarded to those organisations. Again this smells of acceptance of such corrupt practices.

How different is Pakatan from BN although one might argue that this is a lot smaller scale then what BN does? Even at this point if Pakatan has corrupt practices creeping in, what will happen to them if they are given the Federal government? As a champion of anti-corruption, it is imperative that Pakatan should not tolerate any form of corruption even if it is at such a small and insignificant scale.

Pakatan is not a single entity but has three components - PKR, DAP and PAS. Each one of them has different principles, ideologies and objectives. Trust among them even at the highest level of leadership is perceived to be lacking. This has been demoralising to the electorate who for once believed there was an viable alternative to BN after the 2008 elections but now have lost their confidence.

Till today Pakatan has not even announced their shadow cabinet and this is perceived as the three component parties being unable to agree on which portfolios they will take. Can we trust them to take over the federal govenrment and run it well?

Performance has to be seen by the common folks and where it can begin and have an impact, is at the local , town and city councils. The maintenance of the environment, drains, roads and pavements would be a good place to start where the common folks would see the immediate results. Unfortunately there has been no change from BN to Pakatan

I believe all these factors have contributed in varying degrees to Pakatan's loss in Bagan Pinang. If these trends continue unabated, then the tide is bound to change and you will see a lot of Pakatan supporters going back to BN based on the principle that it is better to sleep with devil you know than the devil you don't.
It is also important to understand that the tsunami in 2008 was not because the people choose Pakatan for its ability but simply because of the ABN (Anything but Barisan Nasional) principle. So the ball is now in Pakatan's court and how you react in the next 24 to 36 months will determine your fate. The people are watching.