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Will Malaysia go two-party way?
2008-4-18 12:04:49counter(0)  Writer:***   字体:A+ A-

Will Malaysia go two-party way?

Thursday, April 17, 2008

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IT MAY be almost 40 days since the 12th General Election in Malaysia, but the country is still reeling from the stunning results of the political upheaval voters had dished out.

Variously described as a new dawn for Malaysian politics, a political tsunami and the beginning of the end of race-based politics in the country, March 8 is destined to be etched in the nation's consciousness as an event of historic proportions.

While political pundits are still working on a detailed analysis of voter behaviour, the most positive spin that could be given to the outcome for the moment is that this may well be the start of a two-party system, after the fashion of the Democrats and Republicans in the United States.

Whatever the underlying reasons, whether it is a push or pull factor, the fact remains that Malaysians have taken the first bold, tentative step to break free from the bondage of race-based politics and shape forth a truly Malaysian identity. It's all now in the hands of the newly-minted Pakatan Rakyat, the ideologically-divergent coalition of Keadilan, Democratic Action Party (DAP) and the Islamic party Pas put together by the politically-astute Anwar Ibrahim, the former deputy prime minister of Malaysia.

Life would be breathed into the ideal of a two-party political system, if the Pakatan succeeds in implementing a new and clean political system in the five Malaysian states it rules now.

Voters are watching to see if there emerges a new breed of politicians who carve out a new framework of participatory democracy, taking into consideration the views and wishes of the public.

Sound economic management, under the twin guidelines of transparency and fairplay, in the states under their rule may well position Pakatan as a federal government-in-waiting, as is being claimed by Anwar.

Former Malaysian Prime Dr Minister Mahathir Mohamad, perhaps driven by his unhappiness with his hand-picked successor Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, has said if the Opposition succeeds in governing the states well, it may be well be impossible for the 14-party Barisan Nasional (BN) to wrest it back from Pakatan.

That may be a hard pill to swallow for the BN which now sits in the Opposition bench in the Pakatan ruled states of Penang, Kedah, Selangor, Kelantan and Perak which collectively account for 60 per cent of the country's economic base, with Penang alone, the hub of Malaysia's electronic industry, accounting for half of the country's exports.

Will the comeback kid of sorts Anwar be able to spin his magic and keep the disparate parties from imploding?

Anwar's ban from politics was over on Monday, but he has said that he is in no hurry to enter parliament by way of a by-election as strengthening the three-party coalition was of greater urgency and importance.

Though his presence may have contained many a squabble, one spat has already spilled over into the public domain. Pas spiritual leader Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat has criticised DAP chairman Karpal Singh for saying that the Islamic party should not dream of becoming the backbone of Pakatan. He also picked a bone with Karpal for running down its wish to establish an Islamic state in the country as belittling its efforts to promote Islam.

Anwar's unseen hand can be felt here. Instead of the war of words escalating into a full blown free-for-all, Karpal, who is also the Bukit Glugor Member of Parliament, soft-pedalled and said that he did not belittle Islam in any way and in fact that DAP accepted Islam as the official religion of the country as guaranteed in the Constitution with the proviso that Pas should not depart from what was provided for in the Constitution.

If Anwar had indeed managed to lower the roar of the Lion of Glugor by a couple of decibels, he may yet pull it off and make Pakatan work.

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