Sunday, March 9, 2008

Beginning of A New Era - Malaysia General Election 2008

Today, when Malaysians woke up in the morning, they would find a new era had just begun. The ruling party Barisan National lost its 2/3 majority which it had held for the past 40 years! To make things worse, they also lost 4 states to the opposition parties, Penang, Kedah, Selangor, and Perak. Kelandan, a state that had been under opposition PAS rule for the past, remains a strong hold of PAS.

These results are totally unexpected to most. Very few even imagined that BN would lose this much. What has changed that led to such surprising results?

There are a couple of reasons, in my own opinion:

1. A generation of younger voters are voting in this GE. They accounted for about 25% of the eligible voters. Many of them are better educated, with easy access to information from the internet. Old-fashioned media manuplation does not work very well to those voters. The opposition obviously noticed this and they set up internet blog sites to communicate their ideology to the young voters. BN didn't seem to understand or know how to use the new information technology much. They still sticked to the old way.

2. Inflation. It is a global phenomenon, but it is more severe in Malaysia. Inflation affects Malays more than other ethnic groups such as Chinese and Indian. Malay is the core support group of the ruling BN, yet BN didn't take good care of their supporters. What do you think then?

3. The Anwar factor. The former deputy prime minister of Malaysia, who had been put into jail for crimes that sounds suspicious, has become a powerful factor in helping his wife's party, the PKR to win support from the Malays.

4. The lack of development in Malaysia. Many Malaysians are commenting Malaysia is not moving forward, on the contrary, it is moving backward. This is particularly obvious in previously industry heavy state of Penang. With the rise of China and India, many MNCs are moving their manufacturing facilities away from Penang. At national level, there are not many major developments. From my personal experience, Malaysia is not getting better, but worse. In the past, Malaysia was still attractive because things were cheap there. People could have a good life there even though they didn't have much money. Now with the rising inflation, prices rises in almost every single aspect of life, people are feeling the pinch. For a foreigner like me, it is not attractive at all to shop in Malaysia. In addition, the crime rate is high. People don't feel safe in the streets.

This GE served as a wake-up call to the ruling BN. It is not a bad thing. I only pity PM Adullah, who had been under heavy attack by former PM Dr. M. Life for PM Adullah will be hard in the days ahead. He has to work twice, thrice as hard as before to get his country back on the right course.

This GE is not only a good lesson for Malaysia, it is also a good lesson for those who had been the ruling power for the past many many years. They must respect the power and will of the people. Those in power must understand that they are the SERVANTS of the people of the country, not MASTERS! A well respected Chinese Emperor Li Shi-min (李世民)once said "water can keep the boat float, it can also capsize the boat", meaning people can bring you to power, but they can also bring you down.

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