Thursday, September 18, 2008

Formidable hurdles to dislodge BN

Let us get one thing clear: Anwar does not underestimate the challenges in forming the new Pakatan Government, but it is Mission Possible18 09 2008
Formidable hurdles to dislodge BN

September 18, 2008

Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim must overcome a number of formidable barriers before pulling off the first change of government in Malaysia's history.
The ruling coalition, which has dominated the country since independence from Britain in 1957, will not go quietly despite Anwar's appeal this week for a peaceful transition.
"There is a group of Malay elites who cannot fathom that they may have to give up power. They've been in this position of strength and they know nothing else," said Bridget Welsh, a Southeast Asia expert from Johns Hopkins University.
"Anwar knows he has to get the civil service, the military, the king and the the sultans in his court in order to change the system that's been in power for 51 years and where there are entrenched interests."
After a crackdown last week that saw three arrests under a draconian Internal Security Act, which allows for detention without trial, Welsh said Anwar could also face a threat to his life and liberty.
"He has to be concerned for his safety. I think he knows that and I think the international community is very concerned for his safety," she said.
King may play key role
Malaysia's monarchy, which operates under a unique revolving system that gives state sultans the crown for five-year terms, could be key to the high-stakes negotiations currently under way.
Anwar has said he has the support of at least 31 lawmakers from the coalition, giving him a small majority in parliament, but if the government does not step down he will need to seek a mandate from the king.
"Anwar will have to deal with the king if he wants to be prime minister," said James Chin, a political analyst from Monash University's campus in Kuala Lumpur.
"At the very least he will have to prove that he commands the confidence of the majority of MPs in parliament."
The government has accused Anwar of bluffing after he refused to release the list of defectors until Abdullah grants him a meeting, but Chin said he was wise to protect the lawmakers from government attempts to claw them back.
"Anwar is moving very slowly and very cautiously, simply because there has never been a change of government since independence, so we're in uncharted territory," he said.
Political brinkmanship to drag on
The situation is complicated by a suspected power struggle within the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition, which has been disarray since elections in March that saw it lose its two-thirds majority in parliament for the first time.
Abdullah has defied calls to step down, insisting he will only hand over to his deputy Najib Razak in mid-2010, but challengers appear to be emerging and his replacement could defuse an exodus to the opposition.
Possible successors are Najib, Trade Minister Muhyiddin Yassin, or even a wild card in the form of Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah, at 71 an older but charismatic member of Malaysia's royalty.
"A potential stumbling block would be if Najib manages to convince all the members of parliament to stay, to promise them their positions of power are secure with him," said Tricia Yeoh (right) from the Centre for Public Policy Studies.
"I do think Anwar has the numbers to form a new government but in terms of strategy and the manoeuvring and the technicalities of how it will be worked out, that remains to be seen," she said.
The 61-year-old opposition leader is also fighting a legal battle against new sodomy allegations - the same charge that saw him jailed a decade ago - which he says have been fabricated to sideline him.
Analysts say the political brinkmanship may drag on for weeks or months, spelling bad news for the economy, investment and the stock market which has been paralysed by the uncertainty.


Anwar's options
By Leslie Lau and Shannon Teoh
Sept 18 — There are many roads that can lead to power for the Pakatan Rakyat alliance if opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim indeed has the support of a majority MPs in his hand.
Today, the so-called "prime minister in waiting" demanded that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi convene Parliament next Tuesday to move against a motion of no confidence against the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition.
Next Tuesday is, of course, the day before Anwar goes back to court to face sodomy charges, in a trial he has claimed is politically motivated to stop in the tracks his challenge against the BN.
Such a move appears designed to play up the urgency of his moves to take power, and remove the threat of his court case.
By calling for a vote just days after Sept 16, when he failed to take power according to his self-imposed deadline, he is strengthening his case in his contention that he has the support to form the government.
The prime minister does not need to bring Parliament back into session on Anwar's say-so, and is not likely to.
And this will certainly lead to assertions from the opposition that Abdullah fears losing the vote.
Whatever happens, the stalemate will continue.
Constitutional expert Prof Abdul Aziz Bari believes that the Yang di-Pertuan Agong can also intervene to break the impasse.
"We are heading towards a stalemate," he told The Malaysian Insider.
But he points out that under Article 40a (2) of the Federal Constitution, the King may use his discretion to either appoint the prime minister or withhold consent for the dissolution of Parliament.
According to Abdul Aziz, the King could summon Anwar to the palace to furnish him with the list of MPs he claims supports him, and verify the claim by summoning the MPs as well.
He cited the initiative of the Rulers of Selangor and Perlis post-March 8 when they dealt directly with the elected lawmakers to ascertain their support.
"Should the claim by Anwar prove to be true then he needs to tell Abdullah to resign. This is actually putting the last nail in the coffin for as soon as Anwar manages to get 112 MPs with him, Abdullah no longer has the right to be in the PM's office," he said.
However, political analyst Khoo Kay Peng feels the most democratic answer is simply to wait until Parliament reconvenes on Oct 13.
"Anwar is using the only way possible now by asking the PM to resign. But it will not happen because even if Abdullah wants to comply, Barisan Nasional will not allow it. They would rather get rid of Abdullah than cede government," he told The Insider.
According to Khoo, there is no mechanism that Anwar can use to trigger a change in government until the opposition submits a motion of no confidence where legislators can vote democratically.
That is exactly what Anwar is now trying to do.

Websites -,,,,,,,,,,

No comments: