The elections are over and the BN suffered a humiliating defeat in their expected victory. The MCA was slaughtered, the Gerakan decimated and UMNO humbled. Save for the BN component parties in East Malaysia, none in the Peninsular could put up a decent smile. Like the gentleman that he is, Koh Tsu Koon offered to resign as Gerakan's President in waiting. MIC's President on the other hand refuses to resign saying that he wants to get the party back to its former glory. The victorious Kah Ting said nothing about accepting responsibility for his party's disastrous showing and PPP is a non-entity anyway. UMNO, the dominant party is experiencing a silent turmoil with the former PM's son leading a call for their President's resignation. The President has however denied that he would resign.
When Pak Lah took over UMNO after the Supreme Council asked Mahathir to go, there was much relief in the country. UMNO could not afford to have Mahathir lead UMNO and BN again after the disastrous 1999 elections where the non-Malays saved the BN from total disaster. However, BN lost another state and the opposition made inroads in other seemingly safe states. Pak Lah was at that time seen as the son of an Ulamak; a man untainted like most in the Supreme Council. His plus factor was that by that time Mahathir had got rid of almost all of his 1987 Team A people. He had to take Pak Lah over Najib because Najib was still young and had quite a colourful history.
Pak Lah upon taking over the leadership of the country made many sweet promises followed by initial attempts at keeping his word. His promise of a clean government was the most attractive. The ACA initiated some widely publicised moves and the people were in euphoria. Finally here is a man who is serious at fighting corruption that was rampant during the rule of his predecessor. A big, name Eric Chia, was hauled up and the people went ga ga. A hero is born. This was where Pak Lah erred. He was not willing to go beyond rhetoric .
I am sure he knew that the people wanted him to dismantle some of Mahathir's legacies, instead he dismantled some of Mahathir's plans, one of which was the expensive dual-line electric railway (or something to that effect) running from North to South. Mahathir was hopping mad. The people had wanted a cleaner police force. Mahathir had filled the force with dirty cops whom he could hold should they try to desert him. He made full use of them during the Anwar debacle. The people had wanted a clean judiciary. The Mahathir Administration had seen to it that the once fiercely independent Malaysian Judiciary had turned into a domesticated cat with the removal of Tun Salleh Abbas and the elevation of crooked judges. The Lingam Case did take a shy peek into this but The Commissioners of the RCI made sure that it was only a peek. Mahathir himself pleaded forgetfulness as his defence. I am sure if he had to he would have pleaded temporary insanity. The people had wanted a clean government with the sacking of dirty ministers. The people had wanted a clean ACA and the people had wanted a more people friendly MSM.
What Pak Lah did when he took over was to allow the MSM to be a little bit freer. The people were happy. Then he led them into the 2004 elections and wiped out all the gains the opposition made in 1999 and went better than any Prime Minister before him with a thumping 90 percent of the seats in Parliament. After giving his administration this unprecedented mandate the people waited with bated breath for the Dollah promises to materialise. They waited and waited and scratched their head and pulled their hairs and nothing happened.
Pak Lah had the best chance to be the Greatest Malaysian Hero but he blew it. The situation was such that the people needed a hero. He could have gone in and clean up the Cabinet, put dirty ministers behind bars, apprehend some big shots in the police force, and change the top echelons of the judiciary, get new clean people as the AG and he would have got his work done for him. He could have given the people a freer MSM and once the people hear their own voices they would have hero-worshipped him. The people would forgive him if he is a little slow in economics.
Alas, Pak Lah did not do what he had promised to do. He was at a crossroad and chosen to take the wrong turn.. Claims that his son in law was given too much power to rule and that he depended on his son in law's advice too much, are not unfounded. Cronyism and nepotism, a serious disease during Mahathir's administration, continued unchecked. The MSM stifled the people's voice and descent was met with tear gas and chemical laced water cannons. It was evident that there was nothing to separate him from his predecessor .He became more and more unpopular
In the midst of rising cost of living brought about by the steep climb of the price of oil, he announced massive spendings, unheard of even during the era of the megalomaniac Mahathir. Those billions announced to be spent could have been used to alleviate the people's sufferings. The people could not see beyond tomorrow and could not be bothered with what those corridors could do to them. They were more concerned with affording a decent broom to clean their own corridors.
In the meantime, the ousted Anwar Ibrahim, ironically freed by the Pak Lah admistration, of course much to the chagrin of Mahathir, whom Pak Lah said he has forgotten, had managed to get the fragmented opposition to sit at the same table. Mahathir who was angry at Pak Lah assaulted him on one flank and the revitalised opposition attacked him on another. The oil price attacked him from the back and his greedy cronies' insatiable appetite attacked him on all fronts.
The biggest mistake that he did was to call for an early election just to deny Anwar a chance to stand. It could be said that he feared that the opposition would name Anwar as PM designate if they win, so to deny that he called an early election which freed Anwar to travel the country campaigning. This means that he saw that the idea of Anwar as PM is attractive to the people. The demeanour of the press and local tvs left a bad taste in the people. Only idiots would not agree that Anwar was an important factor for the opposition's excellent showings. Of course there are many in blogosphere, especially those aligned to Mahathir who up till now refuse to give Anwar credit for this. They are just like the so-called expert analysts on tv who kept giving silly excuses every time a big seat falls. This silly bloggers also refuse to admit that the sold out crowd at many opposition ceramahs were due to Anwar's presence.
To add insult to injury the Indians through HINDRAF picked an inopportune time to voice their grievances. The biggest mistake that he did was to meet their protest with violence. That has got to break the camel's back. The elections saw the people united in wanting to teach the Pak Lah's administration a lesson. No, they did not go to deny the BN the 2/3 majority. They went to chase the BN out. Had it not been for the unpredictable, or is predictable, voters of Sabah and Sarawak, BN would be history today. Many ministers and BN big shots especially UMNOPUTRAS would have left the country.
He was asked to resign but he chooses to stay, promising to strengthen UMNO and BN, again another promise which I don't see him keeping. He would now, have to face his own party's election. Mahathir had in his time forced the Supreme Council to postpone party elections and had it included in the party constitution. At other times, he managed to persuade the Supreme Council to agree to a no contest for top two posts. Is Abdullah Bin Hj Ahmad Badawi strong enough to do the same come this September? Only that would see him through the next elections. Of course if someone in his administration has damaging proof of wrong doings of his opponents, then the much anticipated battle royale in September would be a tame Nasyid concert.