Sunday, May 5, 2013

GE 13 : Two Men Who Would Be PM (Three, If We Include Hadi Awang)

The two rival coalitions are putting forth their prospective candidates for prime minister. Barisan Nasional has advanced Datuk Seri Najib Razak. Pakatan Rakyat is offering Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, and well, component party PAS is also offering Hadi Awang.
We thought it might be instructive to see how these men have used the last eighteen months.
The last eighteen months have been Najib's most successful. Capping off his initial transformation programmes, he launched an unprecedented series of legal reforms designed to bring Malaysia's legal code from the colonial era to the present:
The repeal of the Internal Security Act, the Banishment Act, and the Printing Presses and Publications Act.
The promised repeal of the Sedition Act.
Peaceful demonstrations and student participation in politics.
Election reform to minimise fraud and increase electoral transparency.
The expansion of the 1Malaysia concept to include 1Malaysia clinics, BR1M, and other racially neutral subsidies for those in need.
Najib was also determined to extend his father's legacy of racial and religious harmony, and so he went where his opponents and lost allies were. Non-Muslim religious holidays and non-Malay secular holidays saw a smiling Najib, going where no Umno President had ever gone. States held by the Opposition were visited often, and promised improvements and better relations no matter how they voted.
Amidst all of this, he brought Umno to heel. A party once known for unbending traditionalism is now a party that speaks of and acts on reform. Najib directed his penchant for good governance into his party, to the point of altering the party election process to eliminate corruption.
His efforts at promoting peace between peoples and nations under his Global Movement of Moderates, and his handling of the invasion at Lahad Datu won him – and Malaysia – international respect.
Malaysia responded. In every poll taken, Najib has received an approval rating of roughly sixty per cent – or more – easily becoming the most popular politician in the country. Even Pakatan supporters have a broadly favourable view of him.
Anwar has not been so fortunate.
Anwar has worked to identify his personal travails with everything he says is wrong with Malaysia. Convicted of corruption and sodomy, prosecuted for a second round of alleged sodomy, sex tapes, alleged death threats – all laid at the feet of Umno. Even if you believe that the first sodomy trial was not valid, please recall that the conviction of Anwar on corruption charges, dating to his past as Deputy Prime Minister and Finance Minister, was not overturned.
All of that ended on January 9, 2012, when Sodomy II ended with his acquittal.
Anwar's magic was gone. His next interviews with international media brought the rakyat to notice his apparent promise to be a staunch defender of Israel and to consider reviewing Malaysia's sodomy laws.
He kept a lower profile until his disgraceful actions at Bersih 3.0, where many believe that his signals to Azmin Ali preceded the charge on the barricades that transformed the peaceful protest into a riot.
He fouled the effort to bring Sabah into the fold. Pakatan's seat allocation fights lasted for over a year.
Within days of Pakatan's much-hyped manifesto, Anwar was out reversing many of its promises, most notably to close the Lynas rare earths plant.
In perhaps the lowest moment of the last eighteen months, PAS nominated Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang to be the next Prime Minister, shattering forever the illusion of Pakatan unity and his own inevitability. Anwar has been helpless to correct this, and so now there is great confusion about who would be Pakatan's choice for Prime Minister.
Hadi himself has had a rough go of it. After his 'welfare state' debacle of the summer of 2011 opened a schism in the party, he has spent most of his time when not disrupting Anwar's last push for Seri Perdana trying to keep PAS from splintering. His efforts to dampen the fighting between DAP and PAS were scuttled when his party nominated him for the premiership.
And no one outside of PAS believes the man who could not be an effective Menteri Besar of Terengganu would be a good Prime Minister.
Today, Malaysia will choose a coalition who will nominate a man who has become a sterling Prime Minister; or a coalition that will nominate one of two men who were unable to use the last year and a half to any effect.
We believe the rakyat will choose wisely.

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