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A rebuttal to Liew Chin Tong on state elections

A response to the deputy minister on his opinion that the state elections have shown the limitations of Perikatan Nasional.

Kassim Abdul Samad
4 minute read

I refer to Liew Chin Tong's social media post which has been going around and was picked up by the media.

I wish to provide a point-by-point rebuttal to his views on how the elections in six states have shown the limitations of Perikatan Nasional (PN).

First, he talked about the end of changes in government, mid-term. With the polls in six states done and dusted, the deputy international trade and investments minister does not expect a Sheraton 2.0 to take place.

But the way he's going about it is as though a political coup with federal lawmakers switching sides is a domain exclusive to PN. Lest he forgot, it was Anwar Ibrahim who shouted: "I have the numbers" in the run-up to Sept 16, 2008. Surely Liew knows as he had just been elected as Bukit Bendera MP then.

In September 2020, Anwar pulled the same stunt with his "strong, formidable, convincing majority" following the resignation of Muhyiddin Yassin as prime minister. At that time, Anwar and Pakatan Harapan (PH) leaders were willing to work with Umno's court cluster.

And let's not forget how Anwar triggered the defections of Parti Bersatu Sabah state lawmakers to topple the legitimately elected Pairin Kitingan in 1994. 

So, Liew should stop pretending that beneath the veneer of "democrat" Anwar lies a sinister, power-hungry opportunist who'd stop at nothing to win (and retain) power, even to the point of subjugating democratic processes. Liew should stop smearing PN about political "frogs" when Anwar has been at the top of this game for decades.

Secondly, Liew talked about PN's limitations of mobilising Malay-only anger, whatever that means. The surge in support for PN since the 2023 general election is attributed to the electorate's distrust of PH in dealing with public welfare. This is especially so after GE15 when both PH and BN went against their word and joined forces to satiate their respective lust for power.

Politics aside, the current unity government has failed to address many key bread-and-butter issues confronting the public such as the rising costs of living. These are issues that affect all Malaysians, not just the Malays. The low voter turnout on Saturday, including by the Chinese, is indicative of the electorate's frustration with the unity government. 

And since Liew brought up the issue of communal support, he should remember that PH, which is being anchored by Chinese-dominated DAP in terms of MPs and assemblymen, has barely made any significant inroads since the 2018 election. The only exception perhaps is Kota Lama in Kelantan which was won by Amanah rep on Saturday.

In other words, the DAP-dominated PH is only holding on to a diminishing fixed deposit amid a rapidly changing national demography that works against the coalition's interests. Good luck, two or three general elections from now!

Liew's third assertion must have been made when he was hallucinating. He said Saturday's elections show that the era of Muhyiddin, Abdul Hadi Awang and Mohamed Azmin Ali is coming to an end. 

Last I checked, Bersatu and PAS, especially the latter, had made significant gains on Saturday. Azmin, too, defied the odds and became a representative in an urban area, which is supposed to be the "playground" for PH.

How is it that these people have outlived their usefulness? Perhaps Liew is conflating PH dynamics with that of PN. As we know, the knives were out on Chow Kon Yeow in Penang despite DAP's electoral success in the state on Saturday. 

How else would you explain the speed with which Chow was sworn in as chief minister, barely hours after winning? And why was Lim Guan Eng noticeably absent from a gathering on Saturday night where Chow announced PH's victory in the state? Clearly, Chow was trying to stave off a coup from his predecessor. That's DAP for you, trying to kick out a winner, which is a concept alien in organisations where the leaders are not power-crazy.

Lastly, Liew said that the era of three-cornered fights is over... unless PN implodes. First of all, there is nothing wrong with multi-cornered fights. It makes democracy all the more vibrant.

Unless Liew is afraid that parties like Muda split PH's vote, such as what happend in Sungai Kandis, Selangor. In democracy, the more the merrier. What is Liew afraid of? Or is Liew, like Anwar, also a faux democrat? 

Secondly, if there's going to be an implosion, it would be from PH-BN, not from PN. As we know, the alliance in the latter is already very strong. PH-BN, on the other hand, is held together by Ahmad Zahid Hamidi's refusal to go to jail, nothing more. 

As it is, Umno fared disastrously on Saturday and people like former Umno minister Idris Jusoh have already called for Zahid's resignation. There'a limit to the patience of the Umno grassroots as they see their party being rejected due to the folly of one man. So if I were Liew, I would rather brace for an internal revolt within Umno, which would definitely have repercussions on the longevity of this unity government.

So in conclusion, Liew should stop drinking his own kool aid if he's really concerned about the country. It only provides a temporary syiok sendiri high. People like Liew should look into ways to address the plight of the people such as inflation and boosting investments, not just announce FDI pledges which do not translate into concrete benefits for the people.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.

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