Thursday, March 13, 2008

BN and BA sandiwara begins in earnest

IN 2004, the BN's rout of the Opposition in the General Election led to a euphoria of massive proportions. In four years, the bubble bursts, to be replaced by a a feeling of dejection and anguish. It's a new feeling for the BN, despite the overall victory and being returned to govern the country.

The euphoria this time is with the Barisan Alternatif, which denied the BN its two-third majority and claimed control of Penang, Kedah, Perak and Selangor while retaining Kelantan, a PAS stronghold. For the first time, DAP, Parti Keadilan Rakyat and PAS are in control of the west coast of the peninsula except Malacca and Johore.

I don't expect the euphoria to last, but I do expect the anguish of the BN to turn ugly and acrimonious in the coming weeks. Umno, the main flagbearer of the BN, will have its annual general assembly in August this year, and there are signs that the assembly will be the most explosive in its history.

The BA's resolve will also be tested. The voters who rallied behind them want to see if the alliance of the three components was just a marriage of convenience, as often described, or otherwise.

The decision by the DAP to boycott the swearing in of the new Perak Menteri Besar on Thursday does not lend much credence to the cry that the BA is indeed a viable alternative to the BN. In less than 24 hours, we will know if the DAP's intention to boycott the swearing in is serious or a ploy to test PAS and PKR's stand in the new state coalition.

BA in Penang seemed to have a smoother passage in forming the State Government. The new CM Lim Guan Eng appears serious in wanting to start work as soon as possible. The convention is that he and his team will be given 100 days to settle down, or 'warm up' as the case may be.

But judging from Guan Eng's statement's today, he seemed bent on doing work as soon as possible.

The BN's ousted administrators in the four states will now play the role of opposition assemblymen, a role they are very unfamiliar with. It will be very interesting to see how they cope wigth a taste of their own medicine when the new assembly sits soon.

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