The Truth Revealed

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

IT'S IN THE ARITHMETIC, STUPID

Malaysia Today
Posted by Super Admin
Tuesday, 02 September 2008 14:32



This is not just about kicking Barisan Nasional out. This is not just about forming a new Pakatan Rakyat federal government. This is also about maintaining the peace, stability and harmony between the many races and about denying Umno the opportunity to turn this whole thing into a race issue.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

by Raja Petra Kamarudin

Soon after the 8 March 2008 general election, Malaysia Today mooted the possibility that Pakatan Rakyat could form the new federal government if at least 30 Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament crossed over. Another idea that Malaysia Today mooted was the formation of the ‘Unity Government’ and the eventual emergence of a two-party system in Malaysia.

The two-party system was accepted with no problems but the crossovers and Unity Government proposals were whacked to kingdom come. Some even commented that I had ‘changed’ since the election and no longer speak the way I used to. They were beginning to wonder what had happened to me and whether I was suffering from ‘battle fatigue’ and should in fact take a long rest before continuing to write again.

The ‘ailment’ I was suffering from was merely a case of realpolitik or pragmatism. Let’s face it: what can Pakatan Rakyat do with a mere 82 seats in Parliament? It does not even have enough clout to stop the federal government from sabotaging the five states under Pakatan Rakyat control. And this can be done easily enough by squeezing the five states of development money (like how they did to Terengganu in 1999) whereby, come the next election, these states will fall back into Barisan Nasional’s hands (like what happened to Terengganu in 2004).

It’s all about money. If the states get squeezed of money, then the people will re-evaluate the logic of keeping these states under Pakatan Rakyat control. See what the 2009 Budget was all about. It was about pouring money into states like Sabah and Sarawak that may be the source of the crossovers. Umno knew that Sabah and Sarawak were the most possible targets of the crossovers. So they are promising billions to these two states just to ensure that they remain in Barisan Nasional.

Barisan Nasional has 140 seats in Parliament against Pakatan Rakyat’s 82 -- which is 31 for PKR, 28 for DAP and 23 for PAS. But that is for the whole country. In Peninsular Malaysia, Pakatan Rakyat has 80 seats against Barisan Nasional’s 86. Yes, that’s right. In Peninsular Malaysia, Barisan Nasional has only six seats more than Pakatan Rakyat. If just three Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament from Peninsular Malaysia cross over, Pakatan Rakyat would have 83 seats against Barisan Nasional’s 83.

The ‘main players’ in Barisan Nasional are Umno (79 seats), MCA (15 seats), MIC (3 seats) and Gerakan (2 seats). But 13 of Umno’s seats are in Sabah. Therefore, in Peninsular Malaysia, Umno has only 66 seats against MCA’s, MIC’s and Gerakan’s 20 (Total 86 for Barisan Nasional versus Pakatan Rakyat’s 80).

Sabah and Sarawak are definitely the Kingmakers. And the fact that, by law, 25% of the Parliament seats must come from Sabah and Sarawak means they shall always be the Kingmakers. And this is even more so now since, in Peninsular Malaysia, Barisan Nasional’s and Pakatan Rakyat’s seats are almost split 50:50. In fact, in Peninsular Malaysia, Pakatan Rakyat garnered more votes than Barisan Nasional (51% versus 49%). Only when you add the votes from Sabah and Sarawak are the percentages reversed.

The King of Kings would be PBB, Taib Mahmud’s party in Sarawak, which has 14 seats. This is followed by Umno in Sabah, which has 13 seats. SUPP and PRS, both in Sarawak, have six seats each. UPKO in Sabah and SPDP in Sarawak have four seats each -- followed by PBS in Sabah (3 seats), SAPP in Sabah (2 seats) and PBRS and LDP, both in Sabah, with one seat each.

The bottom line is, there are 56 Parliament seats in Sabah and Sarawak. Umno controls 13 and the opposition (DAP) two. The balance 41 are controlled by the component members of Barisan Nasional East Malaysia. If you regard the 13 Umno Sabah seats as ‘component member’ seats, then the total ‘hostile’ seats in East Malaysia (within Barisan Nasional) would be 54. Add the 20 from MCA, MIC and Gerakan, then Pakatan Rakyat would now have 74 seats to fish from.

And 30 seats are all Pakatan Rakyat needs. So 74 are plenty. And that is assuming the 66 Umno seats in Peninsular Malaysia remain with Barisan Nasional and do not cross over.

But there would be a problem if none of the 79 Umno Members of Parliament cross over. Pakatan Rakyat has 43 Malay Members of Parliament opposed to 39 non-Malays. That is okay because then Umno can’t say that the non-Malays control the opposition. But if 30 non-Malay Members of Parliament cross over to Pakatan Rakyat, and they get to form the new federal government, then it would be 69 non-Malays opposed to only 43 Malays.

Herein lies the problem and that is why there is a delay in Pakatan Rakyat forming the new federal government. Anwar Ibrahim does have his 30. In fact, it is more than 30. But Anwar has to be very careful in maintaining the ‘balance’. He can’t afford to form the new federal government with 69 or more non-Malay Members of Parliament and only 43 Malays. Umno would go to town with this and it will ‘prove’ what Umno has been saying these last many months: that the non-Malays have grabbed political power and the Malays have lost political power.

Yes, this is the song Umno has been singing since the 8 March 2008 general election. Malay political power had eroded, argues Umno. And once the 30 or more non-Malay Members of Parliament cross over and Pakatan Rakyat forms the new federal government, the Malays will lose political power.

In an Umno Johor Convention a couple of months ago, they spoke about how they regret giving citizenship to the immigrants on 31 August 1957. Now that these immigrants have been granted citizenship, they have demonstrated ingratitude by voting for the opposition. These immigrants should never have been given citizenship, argued speaker after speaker. And Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah were guests of honour in this Convention.

You could see Tengku Razaleigh cringe, as if in great pain, on hearing this. He knew that Barisan Nasional suffered its most humiliating performance on 8 March 2008 because of exactly this. Such statements are not going to help. It will just make matters worse.

Umno played the race card to the hilt in the run-up to the recent general election. And it is still doing so until now, as the Umno Bukit Bendera Division Chief has shown. They still refer to Malaysian-born Chinese and Indians as immigrants. They still call the Chinese and Indians ungrateful squatters. They still ask the Chinese and Indians to go back to China and India, though all these people were born in Malaysia and not in any other country.

In a PPP Convention in Melaka, held before the 8 March 2008 general election, the Umno Vice-President and Chief Minister told the 1,000 or so Indians that Umno does not need the non-Malays. They do not even need Sabah and Sarawak, said Ali Rustam. Umno has ruled Malaysia for 50 years without the non-Malays, or the people from Sabah and Sarawak, and they can continue to do so another 50.

Ali Rustam was not asked to apologise. Neither was the Umno Bukit Bendera Umno Chief, who Abdullah Badawi said did not really mean what he said. But if I were to say something like that, the police would be in front of my house the very next day and I would be hauled into court and charged for sedition within 24 hours. That would be how swift the police would act in the event I said even 10% of what the Umno leaders say.

And this will be what will trigger the crossovers. The Barisan Nasional Members of Parliament will join Pakatan Rakyat to form the new federal government because of such talk. Umno has no respect for the non-Malays. Umno thinks all it needs to do is to bribe Sabah and Sarawak with more development funds and they will remain the loyal running dogs of Barisan Nasional. Umno knows that the Parliament seats in Peninsular Malaysia are split almost 50:50. So all they need to do is to bribe Sabah and Sarawak and the 54 seats in East Malaysia will remain in Barisan Nasional and Umno will subsequently remain in power.

Umno also knows that by just getting at least 30 Members of Parliament from Sabah and Sarawak, or even the 20 from MCA, MIC and Gerakan, to cross over is not enough. That would give Pakatan Rakyat a 43-Malay versus 69-non-Malay federal government. This will be exactly what Umno wants. Then they can play up the ‘Malays have lost political power’ race card. And then the May 13 Version 2 would become a reality.

There are many impatient people. They want Anwar to take over and form the new federal government today. They want at least 30 Members of Parliament from Sabah and Sarawak to cross over now. They want Anwar to tell Umno to go to hell. But he can’t do that. He needs Umno. Well, at least he needs some of those from Umno. He needs at least 15 to 20 Umno Members of Parliament to join another 15 to 20 non-Malay Members of Parliament to cross over so that he can form the new federal government with the right racial balance. Then Umno can’t say that the Malays have lost political power. And Umno also can’t use this to fan the sentiments of the Malays and trigger another race riot the likes of what happened on 13 May 1969.

This is not just about kicking Barisan Nasional out. This is not just about forming a new Pakatan Rakyat federal government. This is also about maintaining the peace, stability and harmony between the many races and about denying Umno the opportunity to turn this whole thing into a race issue.

And Anwar, of all people, knows this. And that is why he is taking his time about it and is covering all the bases before making his move. We want Malaysia to move forward into 2009. We do not want to return to 1969. This is the crux of the matter.
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