Some have predicted doomsday for Malaysia if UMNO-BN loses, with the more imaginative even giving eerie and gory details. But others say the doomsday depicted by these writers is unlikely to happen because it will be bad for everybody.The reality is likely to be somewhere in between.
What cannot be denied is the fact that there may be a ‘loose nut’ or two in UMNO, who will try to influence Prime Minister Najib Razak into triggering some form of unpleasantness. Or he himself might be panicked into launching a violent crackdown – a good example was the July, 9 2011 Bersih rally for free and fair elections.
If for whatever reason, Najib does ‘pull the trigger’ so to speak, he would be sounding the ‘death knell’ for himself and his family. He will be shamed, disgraced and forever remembered as Malaysia’s last dictator and they, especially wife Rosmah Mansor, for helping to reap his party’s downfall with their extravagant and free-spending ways.
There’s no way Najib can hope to get away with it, not with the current level of maturity of the Malaysian populace and the international community’s growing refusal to tolerate political bullies. Just like Libya’s Gaddafi and Egypt’s Mubarak – Najib and UMNO will be forced to let go, one way or another.
So in that sense, Malaysians can rest assured – any turbulence would fizzle out fast and if they had voted for regime change, then regime change they will have. This is after all the era of the people, the everyday masses who crowd the streets and give life to the economy and not elite businessmen or ruling politicos. It is the wishes of the masses that will override all else.
Trade-off Mahathir and Daim need to mull over
The Malaysian economy is controlled by the rich cronies and the UMNO elite. These are the groups who will suffer the most if Malaysia ‘goes to the dogs’. The rich are more powerful than they have so far been portrayed to be by UMNO. Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who ruled Malaysia for 22 years, and ex-Finance minister Daim Zainuddin are both politicians and very wealthy too. They and their cronies have much to lose in the event that Najib orders a military crackdown or launches a coup if the Pakatan Rakyat led by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim wins.
However, with Pakatan in power, Mahathir and Daim will not be spared from the full scrutiny of the law either. Both men, along with Najib, will have to answer for the various corruption scandals they have been linked to over the past decades. Indeed, it does appear Daim and Mahathir have been thinking carefully what to do in the event that Najib loses GE-13.
Chances are the moment Pakatan is declared the winner, there will be a red alert and the security forces moved into their respective positions to ensure calm. Obviously, they would be waiting for their latest orders from Najib. And if Najib orders a crackdown, then a crackdown there will be and all sorts of excuses engineered to justify it later on. Malaysians can expect to be betrayed by their armed forces. Their only hope is that the individuals – the ordinary soldiers and police officers – will mutiny and refuse to obey the orders of their UMNO-controlled bosses to kill their own civilian brothers and sisters.
Obviously, Malaysians who voted for change would not take an UMNO-instigated coup lying down. Just imagine the students’ uprising alone. The reaction from an increasingly vocal youth guarantees the failure of a coup and the UMNO’s everlasting disgrace, should they continue to bulldoze their way through in complete disregard for the people’s wishes.
A peaceful transition scenario with Najib to take responsibility
Some in UMNO are optimistic of a peaceful transition. They say that if UMNO-BN loses, then Najib would be forced to resign immediately. UMNO would need a scapegoat and Najib and his wife Rosmah Mansor would have to take the fall. If they refuse, then UMNO will use its “internal mechanism” to bring the duo down. The power brokers know that if the loss was due to Najib’s weak leadership, all they need to do is to sacrifice Najib, which is what they would happily do – and not their business empire.
After all, to their thinking, UMNO-BN can always make a comeback. With a new and better image, reformed and cleansed into a new leaf, UMNO can better take on Pakatan in GE-14. This scenario played out in several other countries like Taiwan, Philippines, Uganda, Jamaica or even USSR where there was a regime change but without much bloodshed, unlike the Arab Spring.
So whether Malaysia enjoys a peaceful transition or follows in the footsteps of the Arab Spring countries, the reality and eventual outcome will still be the same. A regime change would take place and the changeover to a new Pakatan federal government would follow through regardless of the obstacles, including bloodshed, thrown at Anwar and team by Najib and UMNO.
If Najib and UMNO admit defeat peacefully, it would of course be easier for Pakatan and better for Malaysia in every way. If they refuse to, then there will likely be a reprisal of the Arab Spring situation although on a much less violent scale and very short-lived by comparison.
People will also revolt if UMNO tries to bribe their way through
There also other more sophisticated views, which perhaps depict the situation more realistically. Some pundits predict that in the event of a Pakatan win, Najib, Mahathir and Daim are bound to rush off to the Palace to beg the King to grant them control of Parliament on the basis that Umno is the political party with greatest number of seats, and Pakatan cannot be considered because it is not a registered coalition.
Going by past records, the King is likely to be persuaded by the trio, after which a massive round of horse-trading will take place. Mahathir and Daim are expected to offer huge sums to get MPs from the Pakatan to join them, and this has been the basis for recent speculation that UMNO had approached DAP for ‘unity talks’.
But not only will DAP be targeted, elected representatives from PAS and PKR will also be enticed. This is why, it is essential for the Pakatan to ensure they select only the reputable candidates – no more Zahrain Hashims, Hee Yit Foongs or Hasan Alis, please.
Unity government, but not mergers
At this point in time, Pakatan has said a unity government may be acceptable but not mergers. However, should UMNO persist and succeeds in buying the MPs they need to help them gain the majority at Parliament, they will still be unlikely to succeed, say other pundits. The reason being that a regime change after 55 years would have to be a really momentous occasion, one that could only be prompted by a people who have had enough and really want a change.
Some among the 222 elected representatives – which is the number of seats in the Malaysian Parliament – might privately dream of instantaneous ‘big money’ but make no mistake, the people will revolt. Not for nothing did they go to the ballot boxes to choose the coalition of their choice, only to be let down and denied by an unscrupulous few.
In event of a people’s revolt, UMNO would again be worse off than before – its image irreparably damaged and the flow of MPs will instead reverse to the Pakatan.
Dong Zong – another clear sign the people want change
So, UMNO can plot and scheme all it wants. Mahathir and Daim can get all their funds ready. Najib and Rosmah will play their own political game to try and keep their jobs for as long they can. But ultimately, it is up to the people to decide. The people voted the reps in and they have the right to vote the reps out.
As the Dong Zong rally held on Sunday underscored, it is not just Anwar Ibrahim or Pakatan Rakyat that UMNO and BN are fighting against and trying to suppress. It is the people, a new political consciousness and awareness, a total rejection of the corruption that is now exemplified by UMNO.
Nearly 10,000 ordinary Chinese folk had turned up to support Dong Zong to protest the lack of Chinese primary school teachers, even chasing away MCA Deputy Education Minister Wee Ka Siong from the event. This rally – for the usually politically-timid Chinese – is a landmark and a real warning for the UMNO-BN. It is the Chinese equivalent of the 2007 Hindraf rally where 30,000 Malaysians – most of Indian origin – protested against their racial marginalization by the UMNO government.
UMNO to make use of May 13 in its 66th celebrations?
Yet UMNO can be expected to ignore and sweep the event under the rug. Najib is even planning to celebrate UMNO’s 66th anniversary from May 1 to May 13, with ominous choice dates remarked upon by many Chinese who remember the May 13 riots of 1969, where UMNO youth members had killed scores of Chinese civilians in Kuala Lumpur.
Speculation is rife Najib is trying to use the May 13 date to rally the Malays behind UMNO by using anti-Chinese sentiments. Already, the UMNO blogs are preparing the way with scare stories of an anti-Malay movement being secretly promoted by the opposition parties.
Although such race-centric strategy does not make sense, it has long been used by UMNO. UMNO cannot drop corruption because this has become the soul of the party. So, it has no choice but to rely on racial hatred. This is the only trump card that an UMNO blindsided by desperation sees in the pack. And this is why, UMNO will in all probability lose GE-13. It is still depending on the tricks pulled by Najib’s father in 1969, while the rest of Malaysia is already living in 2012.
As for the Pakatan, once the full result of the GE-13 is known, it must swiftly swear-in and take control of the country. Whether it will be blocked by the army and the police on UMNO’s orders is a different issue and needs to be solved separately. But Pakatan must seize the day, it must be tough and clear-minded. If UMNO refuses to cede power, and creates riots, Pakatan should play smart and not fall into UMNO’s trap. The United Nations, of which Malaysia is a member, will surely be watching and they will help to ensure order by putting pressure on UMNO.
Ultimately, the people of Malaysia – both living in the country and overseas – must step forward and show the world that a regime change was what they wanted. This then will be the final death knell and disgrace for UMNO – an end that it is unlikely to ever be able to recover from.