1. Generally this GE our electorate can be said to be divided into three camps: Hardcore BN supporters, Hardcore PR supporters, and the Fence-sitters.
2. Millions are going to vote for the first time, and most of these people are youth voters born in an era of prosperity and growth. Majority of the non-Malay voters (Chinese especially) have abandoned BN in favor for PR.
3. BN’s hallmark of ethnic compromise and multiethnic representation at both Federal and State level will be severely dented after GE13 if the current trends does not change. Meaning, that the non-Malay component parties of the BN like MCA will be wiped out with no representation in the Cabinet if BN wins.
4. This scenario raises some questions:
:: What if BN wins with a simple majority but with almost no representation of non-Malays at the Federal level?
:: What if PR wins but without the comfortable endorsement of the Malay-Muslim majority?
:: What if there is a hung outcome in Malaysia Peninsula and Sabah and/or Sarawak decide to switch camps last minute?
:: Will it be dangerous for the minority races if Malaysia is to be governed by an overwhelmingly Malay-Muslim government without non-Malay support?
:: Will the parties of Sabah and Sarawak be the eventual kingmakers in a last-minute settlement that concedes more positions to Sabah and Sarawak politicians at the Federal level and the cabinet?
:: And most importantly : If there is a transition of power – which will be unprecedented – can it happen peacefully?
5. At this juncture it is useful to look at some of our neighbors that have likewise experienced political tsunamis in the past and consider how they coped with them. Let’s take a look at Indonesia.
6. From the 1960s to 1998 Indonesia was under the control of General-turned-President Suharto who led the country with the support of the Golkar (Golongan Karya) party and the Indonesian Army.
7. 1970s to 1990s, Malaysia and Indonesia’s development trajectories were quite similar: Both countries were allied in the war against Communism, quietly partisan to Western countries despite being loud about their support for Palestine, open to international capitalists, and keen to transform into developed economies.
8. Urbanisation, educational development, the entry of foreign capital into local infrastructural projects ie: Japan, US and China – were somewhat the development model adopted by both Malaysia and Indonesia.
9. By the late 1990s, the results of this top-down, state-driven development were obvious: In both countries emerged new, educated, professional classes that yearns to be given a chance to enter the new playing field created by the state.
10. In the case of Indonesia, years of elite-driven development also meant that cronies in the Golkar party and the army were even more embedded in the network of political-business relations, and they were not keen to share the spoils of development with the emerging urban middle class. Sounds rather familiar to the situation in Malaysia now with regards to the minorities and the non-crony majority Malays?
11. The outcome of FDI-driven development across Southeast Asia in the 1980s and 1990s: emergence of new people that were educated, better networked, mobile and ambitious.
12. The slogan ‘cronyism, nepotism and corruption’ became the battle cry for a new generation of socially and politically ambitious new aspiring elites who led the student revolts of 1998 and which brought the Suharto era to an end. Again, compare it with the mass gatherings (though not as violent as it was in Indonesia) Malaysia had recently. Familiar?
13. However, Suharto’s fall did not, however, lead to a neat and simple transition of power. Indonesia, which had been under virtual one-party rule and military control for 30 years, first experienced more than half a decade of instability and chaos.
14. 1998 to 2004, incidents like the anti-Chinese riots of 1998, the Bali bombings, Muslim-Christian conflict in the Moluccas and the rise of both hyper-nationalist and religiously extreme movements tarnished Indonesia’s image.
15. A succession of civilian politicians – Habibie, Megawati and Gus Dur – attempted restore order, but some semblance of unity only came in 2004 when Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono came to power (ex-General and the dark horse of the elections whose party won only around 9% of the popular vote).
16. SBY’s second, more convincing victory in 2009 was a landmark in the history of post-Suharto Indonesia because for the first time since 1998 some political continuity has been introduced to the country.
17. As we look to the coming GE13, it might be helpful to consider the Indonesian case. Even in the event of a slim victory by PR to take over Putrajaya, it is unlikely that radical changes can take place immediately.
18. As in the case of Indonesia, long serving state institutions such as the bureaucracy, police and army, will remain as stable elements, but they may, after 56 years under BN, throw up institutional inertia to delay or hamper any ambitious reforms that the new government may want to put forward. It would be difficult to transform the normalised political and institutional culture of the country overnight.
19. Then there is the possible instability of our political coalitions in both BN and PR, which may break, fragment, shift allegiances, engage in frog-jumping, etc. which as been the culture in Malaysian politics too.
20. A victory for the BN would give a much needed mandate for PM Najib, and spell the end of the political career of Anwar Ibrahim.
21. A victory for the PR would severely weaken the standing of Najib in UMNO, and may well mark the extinction of component parties like MCA, MIC and Gerakan.
22. But it will definitely not be a bed of roses for the new government if PR wins and walks into Putrajaya. It may well spark the beginning of a torrential period for our country before true peace and harmony can be restored.
23. Let’s pray and hope for the best for Malaysia.