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Evading political cliff
Publication Date : 30-11-2012
"Fiscal cliff" has become the most talked about financial term nowadays. It is all about the rise and fall of global economy.
In a similar manner, Barisan Nasional (BN) also strives to avoid a Malaysian "political cliff."
If US President Barack Obama is unable to strike an accord with Congress by year-end, when the US government's tax reduction scheme will expire and when the deficit-cutting mechanism will be initiated, fiscal expenses will experience a sudden crunch, sending the US economy down the fiscal cliff.
In the Malaysian context, if the coming general election is not able to produce a strong government, the new administration will be a lame-duck regime that will likely send the nation sliding down the political cliff with it.
There are a total of 222 seats in the Parliament. Either BN or Pakatan Rakyat will need to win at least 112 seats to form the government. But to form a really stable government, the winning coalition must clinch at least 132 seats to be safe from possible ship-jumping of elected reps. A 111-111 situation will constitute the worst-case scenario.
As such, BN not only must win the election, it must win big,or the political cliff could become a reality any time soon.
In the 2008 general election, BN won a total of 140 seats. Then, it was rumoured that some 30 members of the Parliament would hop over to the opposition pact to effectuate a change of regime.
Having helmed the government for more than three years now, Najib has strived to reverse the flow of ballots and has succeeded to some extent. But how many seats will BN win this time round?
The National Professors Council vice chairman cum National University of Malaysia chief professor Shamsul Amri Baharuddin predicted during a recent media interview that BN could only claim 120 safe seats and 24 grey seats while Pakatan's sure-win seats number 70.
There are reasons for Professor Shamsul to come up with such a projection. If Malay and Indian votes have now flown back to BN as widely reported, then why should Najib hold back the dissolution of Parliament to pave way for general election?
The key lies with his lack of confidence.
It won't be enough to win only 120 seats. A government securing only 120 seats in the Parliament is by no means stable. As such, the current Umno general assembly should serve as the final opportunity for the party to sweep more ballots by boosting the morale of its 3 million-strong members nationwide.
The result? Umno leaders are toning up their speeches. Nevertheless, compared to the speech by Wanita chairman Shahrizat, the speeches of Muhyiddin and Khairy have been relatively mild.
Muhyiddin has warned that political turmoil and a repetition of the May 13 incident could ensue if Umno were to lose the election.
Something raised by Shahrizat warrants some contemplation. She says Umno is gradually losing the support of the Malays.
Why should the Malays shy away from Umno if Najib's transformation programme is that effective?
Often when Najib pushes ahead his "1Malaysia" idea, the same has not received positive responses from other Umno leaders, leading non-Malays to believe that Umno has not changed at all.
Moreover, as the administrator of the federal government, naturally BN will need to face more supervisions and demands from the rakyat than Pakatan-controlled state governments. And what Umno leaders have done so far is not enough to offset the lapses they have previously committed.
Umno needs a real transformation in order to stay relevant in modern Malaysian politics.