(Four parts – this is second part about the changes and posturing in the second quarter of the year)
The theoretical expectation after state governments and opposition coalition in parliament were sorted out in the aftermath of the general election – was governing. That the designated people got on with their roles.
The actual expectation notwithstanding, the actual outcome was very different. The numbers showed that the BN had been second best in the peninsula. There were inroads even in Johor. The BN was relying on the coat-tails of the Borneo parties to keep a substantial majority in parliament.
Sabah and Sarawak matter
The pressure from across the South China Seas shot up overnight. As every MP from the region made it independently and abundantly clear, they were fully aware of the balance they hold for the national government.
However Badawi seemed to be indifferent to them, as the same number of MPs as usual were taken from the various Borneo parties – after being cognisant that only one seat each were lost in both Sabah and Sarawak. The local politicians were already ready for bumper rewards for the federal power brokers for keeping them in power.
Senior ministers like Shafie Apdal – who was moved from the domestic trade portfolio to the almost negligible Culture and Arts ministry. The sense of not being appreciated rose across a substantial number of Borneo politicians.
The problem was not that the federal government was actively dissing Borneo, it was just that they were used to giving their cousins less – and did not see anything wrong with it.
The cabinet postings and numbers were decided in order of party ranking, and the Borneo parties come only after the peninsula parties. The leftovers were not good enough this time.
Two deputy minister call-ups were rejected.
In the height of these disgruntles, Anwar put into play the claim that through the defection of Borneo BN MPs, the new Pakatan coalition will form government – in the months to come.
The unwillingness of many of the Borneo MPs to this claim immediately, gave credence and the claim became a large shadow over the BN government. They were forced into rearguard action.
Go home Badawi
The unexpected win by the PM back in the days of fluctuating fortunes in the 1991 Umno VP elections, gave life to Badawi’s resurrection after being targetted for early retirement for his indecision in the 87′ power challenge in the party.
But through steady and slow stride to the prime ministership, Badawi built the image of being the nice guy Mahathir could only dream of being.
However with the unprecedented losses nationwide, the Umno base – all and sundry – went out to town on the Penang man. They felt the loss was due to indecision, a splintered party and primarily to the soft leadership.
Umno under Badawi was not hate-filled enough, and without hate Umno cannot win elections.
The sms ‘ridicule’ continued and in view of the clamour for change, he promised change, with the appointment of out-of-favour Zaid Ibrahim as the de facto law minister. More was promised to Sabah, including energy suffiency and the right to administer their states the way it best suites the politics of the states.
But the cry for his resignation kept on building steam.
The Anwar pledge
As mentioned the pledge by Anwar was for change of government in the coming months. Everyone who weighed in for change were now ready for more change from the former deputy prime minister.
The claim caught the imagination of the Malaysian people. The utter confience in the satement, even made cabbies and office workers think that something special was in the horizon.
One party in the government – Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP)- was enamoured by the plea by Anwar, and said openly that they would support any ‘no-confidence vote against Badawi.
The temperature was rising and the wave was on the Pakatan coalition.
The oil price hike
The accelerant for the process was the oil price increase by 78 sen – and with it almost the price of everything, since Malaysians are always told to lie on their backs adnd take a good kicking from those in power.
The masive price bump however was too much for most of the country.
In the following months the kiosk price went down gradually – however the damage to the economy could not be retracted.
The subsidy was almost removed but caveats like direct fuel payment and discounted rates for public service transporters did not make things easier for people. The crunch was starting to take place.
The toy boy
As the second quarter was drawing to a close and the support base for Anwar and Pakatan was reaching levels completely foreign to international observers.
A story about an alleged rape over months were brought to light by a before- anonymous Saiful Bukhari.
It set out series of acts on both sides. With Anwar disappearing into the confines of the Turkish Embassy, and the government rubbing their hands in glee for the second chance to cast a dark homosexual shadow on him.
By the end of June, there were a slew of outcomes bandied about, with the broad themes covering the following:
Anwar being able to tear down these new allegations and rush his path to the prime ministership, or
The case is made and everyone can start writing his political obituary while preparing the slides for the ‘collapse of Pakatan’, or
There will be prolonged periods of unrest in the country.
As the days passed, more people put their money on the final outcome.