Saturday, February 16, 2008

Party Or Personality?

A long long time ago, when Malaysia was hunky-dory, it was not too difficult to predict election results.
It was really quite simple to do that although sometimes there were near-misses, full-blown misses, dark horses, and surprises.
Nonetheless, predictable.

For instance, you'd be right to predict that a city constituency with a Chinese majority would go to the opposition, usually the DAP. Or the rural Malays in Umno stronghold areas would vote for BN no matter who the candidate was (Indian or Chinese). And that was the same in an Indian-majority constituency where the BN would win.
Over time, however, it was no longer so simple although voters seemed to still be holding on to the principle of "vote for the party, not the candidate".
In 1999, that seemed to be the case where the opposition, riding on the anti-establishment wave and the Anwar Ibrahim factor, did very well.
Angered by the turn of events resulting from Anwar's sacking, many turned their backs on the BN and voted for the opposition, no matter who the candidates were.
Although the BN maintained its majority in Parliament, it did very badly.
Terengganu was lost to Pas.
In the last general election in 2004, I believe the "vote for party" mentality still figured strong. Buoyed by a renewed sense of hope, people gave their support to the BN which was returned with a thumping victory. And recaptured Terengganu, to boot!

The situation this time maybe different.
This March 8 general election, the country's 12th -- I reckon most people will be making serious consideration about and assessment of the candidates standing in their constituencies.

The "dacing" may no longer be that appealing for the BN diehard. Nor the "rocket' for the DAP faithful.

This time -- voters will not only be looking at the party.
This time, it's the candidate they'll be scrutinising.


Pak Zawi said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Pak Zawi said...

The people want to see a change in the top two leadership. They are perceived as a liability to the country. Hopefully they will take away the famous but useless SIL.
That will be a good beginning to a new Malaysia.
Pls do not publish my earlier comment with that silly mistake hahahaha.

Anonymous said...

Sis Ena
Yep that's right. If the personality is dok pok, the party will face the consequence, I'm afraid.

Mr Bojangles said...

I won't jump the gun and presume what will be in the manifesto.

But judging from what was reported, it will stress on prosperity, money, and all the other materialistic aspects that seems to be the overriding credo of the ruling party and a reflection of the BN's false and shallow sense of values.

It will ignore or marginalize the fact that there are more serious matters facing the nation than bread and butter issues.

Will they address issues such as the rot in the judiciary, rampaging crime, corruption, cronyism, the lack of transparency, integrity and accountability of the executive branch, wastage of public funds, the widening racial divide, the abuse of basic rights,the decline in the nation's competitiveness both economic and educational,etc, etc. And promise to come clean on them.

Or will they stress only on the material, the billions and trillions to be spent, as though all the people want is having money thrown at their faces. They forget that not all Malaysian are like the folks in the BN. Most crave a better quality of life for themselves and their families, a life free from the fear or crime or the lack of a future for their children. And, yes, many Malaysians, seeing how we are being outstripped and overtaken in any field one cares to mention by previously inferior nations, also despair at what is happening to their beloved nation and how it is being held ransom and it's resources squandered by the greed, stupidity, small mindedness, and immorality of the few.

So, I won't be holding my breath. But the manifesto being crafted will, I am sure, be heavy on the material and less, if any, on things that make for a better quality of life through better governance and a government that places honesty, accountability,abhorrence for corruption, and truth among its highest ideals.

Anonymous said...


What do you mean "the people"? Maybe your circle wants to see changes but there are "other people" who want the status quo to remain.

Anonymous said...

Hi Kak Ena, true... the candidates should be scrutinised. Can they carry out the wishes of the rakyat or leave it to their kuncu-kuncu to give them false representation. They are suppose to 'turun padang' NOT their 'men'. I've had some bad experiences with some government officials concerning my father's legacy...nak mintak dana to republish all my father's works so that it will not be lost as some are still not found yet. Anyway, i truly hope the really good ones will prevail. We need leaders who will get good 'men' to help them...not to destroy their credibility! this also reminds me of the issue of our national laurette Samad Said dropping his title of "Sasterewan Negara". Where are the 'good men' to bela them? They are put on a pedestle not just as show or puji-puji only. We need their brilliance to make us better human beings. So, when we shove them aside for less then brilliant is a very sad heritage for our anak cucu...who may become lesser...Salam, lyna usman awang.

Mr. Smith said...

I am still unable to fathom the concept of voting for the candidate instead of party. I mean in the Malaysian context.
OK, assume you stand for elections under BN and win.
Tell me, what can you do about the abuse of the ISA, control of the media, corruption in the judiciary, the power of the SIL, awarding of multi billion contract without tender, abuse of the NEP or your stand on the Bill to extend the tenure of the EC Chairman or snatching away of dead bodies or the widespread corruption among Ministers?
Much as I may like you and your thoughts, but cannot give you my vote for the simple reason that you r presence in BN will not make an iota of difference to the existing state of affairs in the country.
Party discipline demands that you toe the line or you follow Zaid Ibrahim.
Even when the UMNO President makes a stupid speech in the AGM, you are still required to say that he gave a wonderful speech. You lose your independence, dear.
I will come back here, to read your response.

This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

It's still very possible for the ruling party to win.
HOwever if support erodes, there must be a critical examination.
Not that it is not needed even now.
I am sure parties like the MIC should be rexamining itself and its candidates even now.
Are they on track for the Indians?
Do the Indians see them as on track?
Can the Indians continue to vote the BN without later feeling left out somehow not just by economic reasoning but in cases of justice or fairplay?
Does the BN leadership understand wholesomely the indian plights??
If the answer to this is still in the negative in the Indians minds, then they must ask why is it so AND WHAT SORT OF CHANGE IS NEEDED.

Change is always possible BY EVERYONE and similarly it does not mean changing parties one votes for.
For instance:
Will the MIC/BN ever change its mindset as to their approach in facing the Indians plights in order to address pressing issues like urban poverty and "feeling of alienation of rights".
If it sincerely can and WILL, then the Indians may be able to give them another chance next time.
Similarly for all the other parties FACING PARALLEL SITUATIONS!
As it is, today and especially after recent events the whole world is watching us closely if indeed we are living up to the "harmoniously and progessively living nation" BRAND.


Kakifikir said...

Kak Ena,

Suka tak suka, BN tetap akan kembali berkuasa. Very optismistic about this (and sure many others too)

Di Sarawak misalannya, (kecuali bagi kawasan bandar yang menjoriti pengundinya dari kaum Cina di mana DAP ada peluang), untuk kawasan luar bandar yang majoriti pengundi bumiputera, saya 99% yakin BN akan sapu bersih. Sebab utamanya ialah ELECTION MACHINERY berpihak kepada BN.

Realiti ini harus diterima ..... buat masa ini.

Have a nice weekend

Rockybru said...

Yes, Ena, slowly but surely there's a mindset change. Malaysians are beginning to size up the candidate instead of his party. As I told Shar101, we'll be endorsing candidates regardless of his/her skin or party colour. Corrupt candidates are out. Those with Rempit mentality are out, even if they had gone to Oxford or UIA. Those self-serving ones are out. So are individuals who have no backbone and would bite the hand that feeds them.
But this is true especially with urban Malaysians. The kampung folk can be expected to continue voting for the party, whether they are in Perlis or Kelantan.

It's a start, though.


mr smith,

i know what you mean.

Indeed, it is not easy to "unseat" the BN. At least not just yet. We have to accept the reality that as a ruling coalition for half a century, it is a very powerful body with a very powerful machinery. And the existing system and the demographics in parliamentary constituencies certainly make it almost impossible.
What can be done, of course, is reducing the BN's majority in parliament.

Those who don't like Pak Lah, for instance, will not be able to do anything about it becos he is contesting in Kepala Batas and will win Kepala Batas and thefore remains Umno president and naturally, the PM.

So if people vote against the BN (against the party) like many did in 1999, Pak Lah, of course remains PM but he will be a leader of a very weak government.
Or, like 2004, with that feel-good air around us, many voted for BN (for the party) and BN had a resounding victory.

You know, in any consitutency which is the stronghold or stranglehold of any party, that party will win no matter who is contesting. Hence, the phrase -- even if you put a monkey there, the party will win.

yeah... that's voting for the party.

I am a voter in the Bukit Gasing constituency. The last time it was between BN (I think a Gerakan candidate or MCA..not sure) and Keadlian.
Most people voted for the party, I'm sure becos BN won in parliament and state.
I don't think they cared about who the candidates were. I remember that Sivarasa (Keadilan) contested.

It's like this.
When you vote for the person, you'd vote the way people did for Lee Lam Thye in those days when he was a damn good wakil rakyat.
I know that if he were to contest in my constituency then, I'd have voted for him becos i know he'd serve me well.

Anonymous said...

You can tell lies and cheat the people in one election, scrap away with two or three, but BN cannot escape forever. BN will wins no matter what, it could have been a donkey candidate- it does not matter because some still dont want changes, and millions dont know the truth. BUT, they will rule with a weak government and during this time, they will continue to plunge and plunder our country's assets for their own pockets. if we can unseat even one candidate, its a start - no matter how small. I see it as going down the drain for them, its just a matter when.

Anonymous said...

It used to be said that if you put a tunggul as a BN candidate, the people will vote for BN. But not anymore.

I think voters are more discerning now, they're going to size up the candidates - his credentials - contesting. Dont unestimate the intelligence of the voters, especially the urban ones.

It doesnt matter which party he/she is representing. Times have changed.

Anonymous said...

While it is good practice to evaluate the candidates rather than the party, but eventually the candidates are dictated by the party. In other word, all the candidates must toe the line and knowing the kind of leaders in BN, don't expect too much. Just see what happen to renegades like Zaid Ibrahim, Shahril, Ron etc - cold storage........

BaitiBadarudin said...

the times, they are a-changing (for the better, I hope)!
About time Malaysians scrutinise the candidates and the issues that they support, rather than the party.
But I would still like to see a Malaysian version of Ralph Nader's Green Party.
Any hope of that?

Anonymous said...

I'm in support of your idea of voting for the person instead of party because that's what we really need at present. As a sabahan, i might be less expose to the political situation at the national level, but it is surely no less interesting than the situation here in sabah. i remember during the state election back in 1990, people of sabah would vote for the PBS no matter who the contestant was especially at the PBS stronghold area. During that time, for the indigenous people of sabah, PBS was a phenomenon.

The shift in voting mentality was seemed to be growing during the general election in 2004. This was evident with the victory of Independent candidate in one state seat and one parlimentary seat in Sabah. This shows that party alone is no more a guarantee of emerging victor. Even though there were only two seats robbed from BN but the message sent was very clear....voters are up for person not party....this was further supported by the very narrow win of a few other seat where winning majority was less than 300 votes...

So this time around, i do believe sabahan will once again go for person (except those areas where UMNO is seem invinsible..)..and surely, there would be a lot of surprises in this election (especially in sabah)....i'm afraid that some prominent leader might fall victims of the surprise....

But the bottom line is, UMNO-led BN will win no matter what becos the re-delineation of election boundary is very much in favour of UMNO...