Given the strength of the Pakatan campaign in Permatang Pauh, many Malaysians believe that Anwar Ibrahim's return to the Parliament is a forgone conclusion. This has intensified the expectations that Pakatan Rakyat's push to engineer the crossover of BN MPs may take place on or about September 16.
Anwar's presence in Parliament as Opposition Leader will certainly add tremendous pressure on the pensive BN leadership and its increasingly tenuous hold on federal power.
Many right-minded Malaysians are finding the intense politicking in Malaysia increasingly tiresome. This is especially so in light of the global economic convulsions and, the seeming inability of the BN federal government to manage the economic challenges in the form of high fuel prices and food prices. There is a pervading sense of economic gloom that is increasingly embedded in the minds of Malaysians.
There is also mounting frustration that the BN versus Pakatan power struggle is overshadowing the serious matter of economic governance. This blog had earlier shown exasperation in the entry entitled, It's the economy stupid!
As a follow-up, the recent op-ed piece by The Edge Financial Daily entitled, Move beyond the scandals is worth reading:
EVER since the shock results of the March 8 general election began sinking in, the newly formed Pakatan Rakyat (PR) coalition has been psyching itself to grab control of the federal government. The political uncertainty that has followed in its wake has unsettled the investment community as the business sector weighs the implications of a shifting political equation.
Now that its eloquent leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has launched his campaign to re-enter parliament, the moment of truth for both the opposition alliance and Barisan Nasional (BN) government is at hand.
The unfolding struggle between the two political alignments, however, is likely to drag on for a while. In the process, as is the wont of political parties, both sides will try to damage the other's credibility by unearthing scandals and embarking on smear campaigns.
In Penang, Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng has kept up a barrage of criticism against his predecessor's administration, alleging expensive mistakes that have cost the public coffers millions. Likewise, in Selangor, Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has revealed that the previous government had launched a host of risky joint-venture projects that left the state vulnerable to lose some 5,000 hectares of land.
BN leaders, on their part, have criticised the PR for populist measures such as the cancellation of hawkers' summonses in Penang, provision of free water in Selangor, and its promise to lower the petrol price if it takes over the federal government.
As the volatile campaign for the Permatang Pauh by-election runs its course, the diversionary tactics of the two camps can be expected to gain momentum. Allegations, statutory declarations, oaths, threats and whispered innuendoes are flying thick and furious. The dirty tricks department, apparently, is working overtime. As in war, truth is very likely the first casualty in this no-holds barred drama.
Through this all, the rest of the nation waits for a denouement. While it witnesses the catharsis of an establishment order, and the quavering birth of a reform movement, one thing is clear - there is no turning back from this tryst with history.
In this milieu, it is important that we focus our minds on facilitating the clean-up of key institutions of governance and enhance the accountability of public institutions. Where they have been damaged to their very core, we must courageously close the door on old injuries and begin afresh.
It is not going to be easy, but if we wish to transcend past mistakes, all must play a constructive role in defining the new dispensation. The political animals among us must avoid the tendency to descend into mud-raking, or the country's reputation will be hard to repair after the damage is done. This is a crucial test of character for the country's leaders, both the present and would-be ones. Can they live up to the challenge?
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