Sunday December 30, 2012
By EILEEN NG
Against the backdrop of potential general elections, the ruling government and the Opposition both attempted to win the faith of Malaysia’s people.
THE year 2012 has stirred a guessing game of when the general election would be held. Political pundits and Malaysians, in general, have been almost on edge guessing when Parliament would be dissolved. The favourite months were March, June, September and November. All have come and gone with little fanfare.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak has kept the dates close to his chest, but at the recent Umno general assembly, the party, led by Najib, was focused on winning the polls.
Political parties from both sides of the divide have spent the past months, if not years, wooing the electorate using various media, including social media and mammoth political gatherings.
Barisan Nasional revised its election target to regain its two-thirds majority, a sign of the ruling coalition’s growing confidence.
The Opposition, meanwhile, received a boost when Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was acquitted of his sodomy charge in January.
Other key happenings in the political arena include:
*PAS sacks its Selangor exco Datuk Dr Hasan Ali, who courted trouble with his remarks against the leadership. He was also dropped as exco.
*Beaufort MP Datuk Seri Lajim Ukin and Tuaran MP Datuk Seri Wilfred Bumburing leave Barisan to form the Sabah Reform Front.
*PAS delegates, at its muktamar in November, nominate president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang Abdul Hadi to be the prime minister, should Pakatan take over, causing consternation among its Pakatan partners, which understood that Anwar would fill the post.
*Debates between politicians, namely MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, and Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin with PKR director of strategy Rafizi Ramli and Bersih co-chairman Datuk S. Ambiga.
*Lim, who is also Penang Chief Minister, faces heat over the purported “abrupt transfer” of a female aide in his office. He denies an affair with the staffer and that his wife, Betty Chew, assaulted the woman. · Selangor faces flak over allegations such as Talam-gate, in which MCA Young Professionals Bureau chairman Datuk Chua Tee Yong questioned the state government over its role in Talam Corporation Bhd’s debt recovery exercise.
*MCA continues to challenge Pakatan and Anwar to tell the Chinese community what it will do to develop Chinese education. It also continuously pressured DAP to explain its alliance with PAS, especially on its hudud agenda and DAP’s conspicuous silence on the matter, with the exception of chairman Karpal Singh.
Raring to go
Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak rallied his troops at the recent Umno general assembly for the general election. The assembly this year saw fired-up and more confident delegates raring to face the election.
Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil stepped down as Women, Family and Community Development Minister when her senatorship ended on April 8, after being dogged by allegations involving National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp), in which her husband Datuk Seri Dr Mohamed Salleh and her son, Wan Shahinur Izmir, hold posts as executive chairman and chief executive officer, respectively. Her ministerial post was taken over by Najib.
New and improved
As part of Najib’s political transformation, the Internal Security Act (ISA) and Sedition Act were repealed and replaced by Security Offences (Special Measures) and National Harmony Acts, respectively. Besides that, the Emergency Ordinances were repealed and the requirement for publications to renew their annual print presses and publication permits were removed. The Universities and University Colleges Act was also amended to allow students to participate in politics.
Former DAP vice-chairman Tunku Abdul Aziz left the party in May, citing “irreconcilable differences” with the party’s leadership. This came on the heels of his criticism of electoral reform rally Bersih 3.0 and his not being renominated as a senator for a second term.
MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek debated with DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng twice on Feb 24 and July 8, touching on national issues. The highly anticipated debates gave Malaysians a glimpse of how the two leaders performed, especially when they crossed swords.