Why There is No Choice in Malaysian Politics
The opposition frequently laments its status as a mere thorn in the Barisan Nasional's side. Often, they attribute this to the suppression by the ruling government of the opposition. What nobody seems to be understanding is that even if the opposition are absolutely correct in that they are being suppressed, few would want to vote for the opposition.
Why? Because in spite of how much Barisan Nasional sucks, it at least can run the country. Of course, considering the shit we're in, this doesn't look like a well-run country, but honestly, who expects PAS to be able to administer Malaysia without turning us into a new Iran or Afghanistan? Keadilan is in the same boat as PAS; as everyone knows, Anwar is a radical Islamist, and added to that, was as mired in corruption as Mahathir was. Hardly the best choice for Prime Minister. The DAP has a few exceptional MPs, but for the most part, only knows how to oppose for the sake of opposing. Even when the government is actually right on something, the opposition absolutely has to oppose.
Malaysian voters are stuck: Vote for BN, and face a tidal wave of continued corruption, break down of law-and-order, and continued inefficiency. Vote for PAS/Keadilan, and face becoming another basket case Islamist state. Vote for DAP, and face a government which is totally unprepared for being the government because all they know how to do is oppose the government. The choice is clear: The best of the worst.
Those who would put forth Anwar Ibrahim as a potential PM must be joking. He's a corrupt bastard who helped his cronies out as much as Mahathir did. He's a radical Islamist who has little real experience in politics beyond power-wrangling in UMNO.
What Malaysia needs is one or more of the following three outcomes:
- The DAP becoming more mature. Possible, but not until the old guard like Lim Kit Siang fade away. Until then, the DAP will just be background noise in Parliament.
- A new party to appear on the scene holding more centrist views, with honest and experienced leaders. Most UMNO leaders tend to hold degrees in Islamic or Malay studies, giving them little understanding of politics or economics. If this new party can attract both charismatic and intellectual leaders, it may yet stand a chance of toppling BN.
- A more grassroots-based approach to politics. The problem with Malaysian politics is that voters are given pre-selected choices instead of being allowed to make decisions by themselves. Even our municipal councils are appointed, making them unanswerable to the public. (It is no wonder then, that our roads are never smooth, our water never clean, our electricity supply never constant, our security, in our cars or at home, never guaranteed, and so forth.) If we could elect our municipal council members directly, and party members could vote directly for the MP and State Assemblyman candidate for their area, our "wakil rakyat" might actually be a bit responsible for once.
Sadly, I doubt any of these situations will occur within the next decade. Lim Kit Siang is firmly entrenched in the DAP, with his equally belligerent son, Lim Guan Eng, set to succeed him. A new party will have little chance to flourish in the political climate here, particularly because of the racial politics. And no kiasu Malaysian politician in his right mind would want to let their fate be tossed to the uncertain winds of public opinion.
As much as the opposition whines and complains, until we move forward in a more progressive manner, nothing will ever get done. It will be the same old choiceless vote for BN again and again.