Wednesday, 5 March 2008

Possible outcomes in Penang

I read with interest a news item in The New Straits Times yesterday that was speculating on the possible outcome in Penang post-election but actually, at the back of my mind, I consider it propaganda material to frighten the Chinese voters in Penang to align their votes with the Barisan Nasional.

But the report was interesting nonetheless. The three possibilities mentioned were:
  • Barisan Nasional retaining power. Business as usual since the power equation among Umno, Gerakan and MCA remains intact.
  • BN retains control. Internal balance of power is messed up after a considerable loss of support from Chinese voters.
  • The opposition, led by DAP, wins. Bringing back memories of the tumultuous years of early Gerakan rule in the state.

What caught my eye was the account of what happened in the 1969 general elections when Penang fell to the opposition. Interesting reading from the historical perspective.
"... it did happen in 1969 when a one-year-old party called Gerakan, led by forward-thinking intellectuals, appealed to the masses with its multi-racial platform.

The party won 16 of the 24 state seats -- along with three by DAP and one Parti Rakyat as against only four retained by Alliance -- on a wave of anti-establishment sentiment brought about by the loss of Penang's free port status a year earlier.

Dr Lim Chong Eu (now Tun), then its state chairman, was made chief minister and Mustapha Hussein his deputy. But the political realities of the day made it difficult for an opposition party to rule a state like Penang where unemployment was reaching 15 per cent and rising.

So, more than two years and several overtures to the federal government later, Chong Eu announced on Feb 15, 1972 the formation of an Alliance-Gerakan coalition government in Penang.

He gave two reasons for this -- one, that it was in the interest of national unity, stability and security; and two, that it would be better for the state so that socio-economic development could take place more rapidly.

Chong Eu faced a revolt in his ranks for this but he prevailed.

The way things were going, it was just a matter of time before Gerakan had a full-fledged pact with the ruling Alliance.

It happened finally in January 1973 when an expanded Alliance led to the formation of Barisan Nasional with not only Gerakan in its fold but also Pas, PPP and SUPP."

1 comment:

Jeffrey Chew said...

I prefer option 2. Hence, that will force further changes in how local municipality works. I am glad you write with good options. I think I rather have an avalanche of votes that an avalanche of crowd.