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Elections I Really, Really Care About: Part 1

MsExPat's picture

In Malaysia, Anwar Ibrahim just won a Parliamentary by-election that may put him on the fast track to being the country's next Prime Minister

PERMATANG PAUH, Malaysia (Reuters) - Malaysia's best-known opposition politician, Anwar Ibrahim, scored a bigger than expected victory in a by-election on Tuesday, boosting his chances of becoming the country's next prime minister.

Anwar, whose campaign for the parliamentary seat vacated by his wife has been dogged by charges of sodomy, won a majority of 15,671 over his government opponent.

You remember Anwar--he is the opposition leader who spent two years in jail (2002-4) on falsified charges of sodomy after he crossed Malaysia's autocratic PM Mahathir of the all-powerful ruling UMNO party.

Big changes are afoot. When I was in Malaysia earlier this year, a coalition of opposition parties was able to gather a veto-sized stake in the Parliament, enough to block the most flagrant corruption excesses of the ruling party.

Even more amazing: the new coalition is multi-ethnic. Malaysia's politics and politicians have been playing the race/religion/ethnic card since the British left. But not any more. Working class Malays, disenfranchised Chinese and Indian laborers, socialists and small capitalists have united and are making change at the ballot box.

Yeah, change. When it's the real thing, it's the best.

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Submitted by lambert on

What you wrote:

Working class Malays, disenfranchised Chinese and Indian laborers, socialists and small capitalists have united and are making change at the ballot box.

How the heck did that happen?

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

all over the world.

The ruling party got way too fat, way too corrupt, totally audacious. They've enjoyed super-parliamentary majorities, and they changed the constitution at whim to benefit cronies.

Eventually, even some of the majority Malays got fed up enough to jump ship.

The Internet has helped. The Malaysian government pretty well stifles the press, but blogs and bloggers have played a huge role in the opposition movement.

Submitted by lambert on

Any differences between their situation and ours?

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

MsExPat's picture
Submitted by MsExPat on

so people depend more on blogs and bloggers for their political information.

Lim Kit Siang, the leader of one of the big Malaysian opposition parties, for instance, is also a popular blogger.

Submitted by lambert on

Are there elections you care about? What about them?

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

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Submitted by Mandos on

It is quite possible that a Canadian electoral campaign might start next month and be over before you guys have yours. Harper is itching to pull the trigger, even though he passed a fixed election law, which his supporters are arguing was (a) an accomplishment and (b) unconstitutional. Hee hee.

Submitted by lambert on

Repaired, rigged, or both?

[ ] Very tepidly voting for Obama [ ] ?????. [ ] Any mullah-sucking billionaire-teabagging torture-loving pus-encrusted spawn of Cthulhu, bless his (R) heart.

Mandos's picture
Submitted by Mandos on

Harper fought for and passed a law preventing the governing party from inducing the deadlock conditions that automatically flush the Parliament, also known as calling an election. This was in response to his supporters perception that the Liberals called opportunistic elections to keep themselves in power for more than a decade.

Some of his supporters, see, believe that he's a Different Kind of Politician. He is, but not in that way.

So now, he wants to call an opportunistic election. And his supporters are spinning it as though the law he passed in favour of fixed dates has no effect.

How do we know he wants to do this? Because he wants to retract a backdoor anti-abortion bill introduced by a minor MP in his party. As in the US, conservative leaders use social conservative issues as bones for their loopier supporters to gnaw on. But they're usually flushed when push comes to shove.

Well, it's starting to look like push is coming to shove.

empty's picture
Submitted by empty on

This is good news. Now let's see if the power structure actually lets him get to the next step. Anwar Ibrahim was demonized at one time as an Islamic extremist. What is the general perception about him in Indonesia?

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Submitted by MsExPat on

Well, my Chinese Malaysian friends there think he's a canny pol, but a far better and more progressive one than the crooks that have been running the place for so many years.

He's a modern, moderate Muslim--his daughter ran for the legislature earlier this year, and she won a seat.

Interestingly, it is the far-right fundamentalist Islamic Malays who joined forces with the Chinese-Indian coalition to form the political opposition. These Malays happen to be mostly poor, and they felt they were getting screwed by their own people.

To watch as economic common interests win out over these entrenched ethnic/racial divisions really cheers me up more than any hopey-changey rhetoric possibly could.

empty's picture
Submitted by empty on

Yep. It was Malaysia. I don't know why Indonesia is on my mind today :) I got interested in him after reading Desperately Seeking Paradise by Ziauddin Sardar. He seemed to think very highly of him as a Muslim thinker and reformer. Until then what little I had heard of him painted him as an extremist. I didn't know if Sardar was glossing over stuff. It is nice to know he was not because what Sardar wrote about him was highly encouraging not just in terms of Malaysia but also for the development of moderate Islamic thought.