ELECTIONS - PART III suppose it's time to update this. Yes, if you're in Malaysia, you're more than a little aware that elections will be held this weekend, 21 March 2004.
(I'm making use of the excellent wikipedia to provide background reading material on the Politics of Malaysia, as well as other links.)
- A short history: Barisan Nasional (BN) is the current ruling coalition. PAS, DAP and Keadilan are the current main opposition.
- In a nutshell: Both these elections and the ones held in 1999 seem to be about one thing: How do the Malays want Malaysia to be run. On the one hand, we have the United Malay National Organisation (UMNO), the backbone of BN, who preach unity for all, and on the other we have PAS, who preach Islam for All (seriously, they have that on their campaign posters). Throw into this mix allegations of corruption in the current government, as well as memories of the Anwar affair, and we have a split in the Malay vote. Of key interest are the districts with >75% Malay constituency.
- One reason why Barisan Nasional will win overall: BN component parties talk to one another. Opposition parties disagree with one another.
- Another reason why BN will win: The feel-good factor generated by the new Prime Minister, Abdullah Badawi or what I like to call the "He's-Not-Mahathir" argument. He's been cleaning out the government by setting the Anti-Corruption Agency on some high-profile people.
- Yet more reasons why BN will win: A campaigning period that is only eight days long (compare to eight months in the US). Holding the elections on a Sunday which is a public holiday in all states except the hotly contested states of Perlis, Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan. And a nifty bit of gerrymandering that affected several districts won by by thin margins in the previous election. My favourite? The district of Pekan that was won by Najib Tun Razak in 1999 by a majority of 241 votes. Then he was UMNO vice-president and Minister for Education. Now he's the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence. The redrawn district includes an army base of 2,000 personnel.
- Any other potential embarassments for the government? Overall, if BN does not do better than they did in the last election, it would look bad for them, even if they get their two-third's majority.
The state of Kedah seems to be up for grabs - if BN loses it, along with Kelantan and Terengganu, it will show that the polarisation between the Malays has actually grown.
- Which way will I vote? Well, seeing that the candidate in my distrct won handsomely last time around, and that the opposition have put up a fairly junior candidate, my vote is unlikely to make a big difference.
- Yes, but which way will you vote? I have yet to see a manifesto from individual candidates.
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