Wednesday, August 27, 2008

P Pauh - what changes will it bring?

THE victory by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in Permatang Pauh has triggered more discussion concerning the Malaysian political landscape. His entry into Parliament tomorrow will no doubt see more debate and verbal clashes between the Opposition and the Barisan Nasional.

Many Umno insiders knew that it was an uphill battle to dislodge Anwar from his traditional stronghold. At best, they confided before yesterday's by-election, the idea was to reduce Anwar's majority. And they failed to do even that, let alone 'bury' him politically. Anwar polled 31,195 votes brushing aside BN's Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah who polled 15,524 votes.

In March, Anwar's wife, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan ismail, won with a majority of 13,388. Anwar's bigger margin tell a different story by itself, one that has many interpretations and should be a matter of serious study by Umno and the whole BN leadership.

A few days before the by-election, a lawyer friend called from Penang, giving his take on Permatang Pauh. He was a card-carrying member of one of the bigger BN components. His observation was simple and straight-forward. "BN will lose and Anwar's majority will increase," that was his forecast.

When asked why, he said: "The BN continue to be on a state of denial. They can no longer read the signal on the ground. They also fail to see the writing on the wall. Anwar's supporters are not going to be easily swayed by whatever tactics used by Umno and the BN. Call it blind faith or whatever, they will continue to root for their man."

I also happen to bump into a former minister from another BN component. Inevitably, the subject of Permatang Pauh came up. His take was no different from the lawyer's: "UMNO and the BN have not broken new grounds after March 8. They continue to use old tactics in Permatang Pauh, tactics which are no longer applicable in the present situation.

"After March 8, things have changed. And the changes are not small. They hit at the core of the BN and Umno, and the leaders have not been able to bite the bullet and take real measures to repair the damages. There's plenty of talk. No action though. There's plenty of jostling within the party, and this will cost the ruling coalition even more," the former Cabinet member said.

As for yesterday's result, which the major newspapers reported on the front page though with a rather subdued tone, the question that is now being asked is this: "Will Anwar be the new PM on Sept 16, as he had said that he has several BN MPs waiting to jump ship and join him at Pakatan Rakyat?"

This is no longer a straight-forward question to answer. Yesterday's by-election was not an ordinary one. The BN had pull all the stops in their campaign. Even BN chairman and Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi took to the rostrum several times. It's his state after all, and he must be seen to make an attempt to win back one seat.

The BN's director of operations was Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Abdul Razak. The combination of Pak Lah and Najib lent a different dimension to the campaigning in Permatang Pauh. And the big presence of local and foreign media representatives gave the by-election the kind of hype whose impact would have consequences far beyond the constituent's boundary.

Anyone who was someone was in Permatang Pauh. Quite a number went on the campaign rounds because they cannot afford not to be seen not helping the party, what with the UMNO elections scheduled in late December this year. Some of them knew that Permatang Pauh was a lost cause, but they must "show face" if they want to win votes in December.

Another question asked was - is Anwar really that strong and popular or is Pak Lah and Najib no longer able to command voters' confidence and support? Was the result a show of confidence on Anwar and PKR or a loss of faith on Pak Lah/Najib and the BN? I'm sure the losers will also lose some sleep as they ponder, privately and in groups, the fate of their party following the defeat.

I won't be surprised if the losing party starts pointing fingers and apportioning blame. This is not new. The aftermath of the by-election may yet result in a further loss of confidence on the ruling coalition, and may even creep into the Umno election later this year. Why should it be so, you may ask.

Well, for one thing. the Umno election is not just a contest among aspirants. It is also a venue for the contestants to try and advance their beliefs and formula as to how the party should move ahead. Should it be run the way it is, or should it start seriously looking for new ways and new faces. The Parmatang Pauh battle ground could yield some pointers as to how Umno and the BN may want to re-brand itself.

The sound bytes must also be studied and analysed. Some of the ones heard on TV and read in the print media suggest that the BN's arrogant ways is alive and well. And this creates the perception that Umno and the BN are clueless as to what is happening around them.

In times of battle, I can understand the need to beat up the war drums. But let's make sensible statements, ones that the voters like to hear and understand. Words must show care, and deeds must follow in earnest.

Branding Anwar as irrelevant was not the wisest thing to utter; issuing a veil threat that the 15 sen reduction in fuel price would be all the rakyet gets if they fail to show appreciation is an utterance guaranteed to invite rejection. Permatang Pauh is a testimony to that.


Anonymous said...

Hi there! Umno will not survive another by-election. At this rate, Umno will be buried sooner rather than later. Umno prez today keep harping it has won the GE. Only TR and Muhyidin got some logic in their thinking. Muhyidin can salvage situation if he goes for number 1 post. With Anwar in Parlimen, he will goreng everyone. And the media will love him! Mainstream media also helped Anwar to win with their one-sided coverage. Umno prez today will be remembered as the one who help nail last coffin in Umno coffin!


Anonymous said...

Hello! Have you read today's newspapers? At least the on-line version? PM said UMNO is as strong as ever! Other Umno ministers said Anwar's win was not unexpected! I'm not an Anwar fan but statements like this wanna may me puke! Umno is a joke and the PM is a court jester!


Anonymous said...

Alamak Dato', you selalu ketinggalan bas lah. Masa kempen you tulis pasal kambing, bila dah habis baru tulis politik. Siapa nak baca ni?

Anonymous said...

Nothing will be change after Anwar got his chair in Parliment...that mean Anwar will never brings any changes...

Ahmad A Talib said...

Dear Anon 3:02,

Hahaha! Tak baca pun tak apa. Saya tulis fasal politik Permatang Pauh pada awal Ogos lagi (11 Aug actually). Saya tulis fasal kambing dan Olimpik fasal tak pening kepala. Bila fikir fasal politik, kepala pening dan hati sakit. Sekali sekala tulis juga atas desakan kawan-kawan. Enjoy your weekend dan salam hormat!

Anonymous said...

@Anonymous 3:02 PM
Siapa nak baca ni?

Well, me for one:-)

Saya lebih suka baca yang ni - dari seorang yang tak involved 24/7 semasa time Permatang Pauh baru ni - daripada Susan Loone, Rocky, Anil etc etc.

Bukan saya tak suka tulisan mereka - saya memang suka. Tapi, saya sekarang nak orang yang `fresh', yang dapat bagi "satu perspektif" yang baru sikit. Macam yang ada kat sini. Dan seperti Che Mat jugak, saya pun tak pening.

Anonymous said...

UMNO per se is still relevant. Sadly however its present leaders top down are in fact no more relevant. If UMNO is meant to ensure the survival of Melayu then come Dec Perhimpunan the members must proof "kejantanan Melayu" by dumping those "lembut" leaders. Otherwise bye bye UMNO and quo vadis Melayu and Malaysia so says dzulman the Perak ayorman!

Anonymous said...

Anwar is nothing but a piece of crap. Believe him to your own peril. He's nothing but an air head and talks non stop. He's a trouble maker and he only makes the overall political and economic view of Malaysia negative. No more foreign investments for Malaysia. Who's gonna come to a country with a vengeful monkey that keeps talking about toppling the government?

Any economist will tell you that had Dr M not fired him for the route he wants to take in the economic crisis in 1997, you Malaysian's life would have been worse today. Even George Soros had to admit Dr M did the right thing.

He's a useless SOB that Anwar and a cause of political instability.

Its good to have more oppositions in the government, but do it so that the ruling party doesn't have free hand on everything but its another thing when some monkey keeps talking about toppling the government.

No political analyst can see any good with Anwar's troublesome nature.

And what of all the opposition leaders? Are you poor souls so weak none can be leader? Or does Anwar pays all of you to acknowledge him as opposition leader? Bloody backboneless oppositions!

Good luck to you Malaysians. I can see no future there anymore.

soon gonna be ex-malaysian

Kak Teh said...

Dato dan seisi keluarga, selamat menyambut Ramadhan yang mulia ini. salam drp kami di perantauan.

Anonymous said...


Org boleh kata apa dia suka. Pak Sheikh memang ada ramai pengikut. Yang setia dgn dia pun banyak. Skrang dia muncul lagi. Semua jentera Pak Lah tak dapat goncang dia. Dalam hal ini, takkan nak salah Pak Sheikh jugak? Arif Syah kalah bukan kerana dia tak boleh buat kerja. Dia kalah fasal org Umno tak mau dia menang. Dan Pak Lah tak lagi boleh buat ahli Umno ikut cakap dia. Permatang Pauh ada 25,000 ahli Umno. Hanya 15,000 yang sokong dan undi dia. Yang lain? Mereka dah blah dan masuk pakatan Anwar. Pak Lah dan Najib dah kehabisan idea...elok berundur saja dengan hormat. Kalau tak buat begitu, Anwar yang akan kuburkan Umno. Bukan KJ yang nak kuburkan Anwar.

Atau Pak Lah memang sengaja nak tunggu Anwar dapat menubuhkan kerajaan 16 sept ini dan beliau diselamatkan oleh Pak Sheikh atas percaturan mereka berdua.

Pak Kadok

Anonymous said...

soon gonna be ex malaysian is a pathetic person. He seems to be singing the same tune as the UMNO creatures. Anwar is a crap..yes but he won with big majority my friend. You want the present Government to go on and on with all these nonsense just because you claim Anwar is a crap. Open up your mind la brother.