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This is the first of a 3-part series. It’s pure fiction, and completely fabricated. Characters are fictitious and nothing to do with persons of the same or similar name either alive or dead.
September 24, 2011 (PUTRAJAYA) — Yesterday, Malaysians decided to call time on an era of “old politics” to usher in a dawn of “new government”. After several recounts due to close calls in several key constituencies, the final score for the Dewan Rakyat was 129 Pakatan Rakyat, 81 Barisan Nasional, 2 SPP, 10 Independents. The overall ratio of the votes tally nationwide was 52% PR, 48% BN. For the first time since our national independence, Malaysia had a new government.
It was a stunning victory, made sweeter by the fact that everyone, including independent observers, had written-off Pakatan Rakyat’s chances in the weeks running up to the elections.
Firstly, BN’s crushing victory in Sarawak April 2011. Many thought that PR would make strong in-roads during the state elections, some even felt that Sarawak would fall from BN’s grasp. However, what really happened could not have been further from the truth. Taking every state seat except one, with average majority victories of at least 15% in each one, Ahmad Tajuddin Muslim kept his seat of power in emphatic fashion.
Allegations of corruption and vote-buying were rife, and despite the best efforts of the authorities to prove the case, no charges were drawn up in the months following the election.
Secondly, the fragmentation within PKR. In the wake of the Sarawak debacle, senior leaders in PKR turned on each other. Deputy President, Zaki Anas, accused de facto leader, Muhammad Isa, of “pandering to the gallery” in several scathing articles published online.
“The era of negative politics must end,” said Zaki. “We lost in Sarawak because we went overboard in our approach, trying to hard to paint BN in a negative light, and not doing enough to convince the people how life will be good and different with a new government in power.”
Muhammad Isa was livid at the veiled suggestion that the defeat was his fault.
“Corruption is a problem that we seek to fix, everywhere in this country. If we do not remind the people why they are voting for us, then we might as well give up this hope. It’s unfortunate that there are some people, even within our own party, who choose to downplay this mission,” he said.
Observers did not miss the fact that both party President Kasmawati Intan and party VP Nor Hidayah chose to remain largely silent during this public debate between the leaders.
Thirdly, further allegations of corruption in the Selangor PR-led state government was revealed in the months leading up to the General Election. A senior member of the state government, Albert Tam, under heavy investigation by the MACC, resigned in July. The issue of “letters for favours” since 2010 had refused to go away, and when new evidence started coming to light, the pressure became too great.
Fourthly, the public spat between DAP and PAS leaders just days into the campaign period. Several DAP bloggers and dailies began writing about the many wonderful changes Malaysia would see with DAP Ministers in charge of the economy and the nation’s education system. PAS leaders took offence to the suggestion that such critical Ministries would seem to “automatically” be the jurisdiction of DAP, and the verbal battle really heated up when senior DAP leaders did nothing to discourage the sentiment their grass root supporters were feeling.
It is uncertain how the issue suddenly fizzled out almost as quickly as it started, but insiders claim that the timely and private intervention of Nor Hidayah as a peace ambassador for both sides played a large role. Although she does not deny her involvement, she has repeatedly refused to divulge any details of any deal that may have been struck.
Taken together, these factors must have encouraged PM Muhammad Baari to announce the polls earlier than initially expected. During his 54th Merdeka Day celebration speech, he was particularly upbeat.
“Malaysia today celebrates its 54th anniversary of independence. We have made great strides these past 54 years, and exceptional progress since i last spoke to you just one year ago. The Economic Transformation Program is well and truly underway. More than 250,000 new jobs around the country have been created in the last 6 months. Growth rates this year are encouraging, and we’re clearly on track to achieve our target of 6.5% GDP growth this year. We are doing our best to put real money into real pockets, and i think we’re all starting to feel the truth of this fact.”
All the signs were positive. The country was doing well economically, the Opposition had suffered a crushing defeat at the polls just several months earlier, and the leadership of PR was at odds with each other. There was no reason to suspect an impending defeat was just around the corner.