THE CORRIDORS OF POWER
Raja Petra Kamarudin
Soon after the 8 March 2008 general election, Umno held a seminar at the Holiday Villa in Subang. I invited a few non-Malay friends to join me in this seminar. Initially, they did not see any point in attending an Umno do. However, I managed to convince them to go so that they can get a good idea on what Umno is thinking. There were other seminars held in Petaling Jaya, Johor Bharu, and so on -- some which I also attended with my non-Malay friends in tow and some which I sent ‘agents’.
In the Holiday Villa seminar, amongst those who spoke were Fahmi Ibrahim, one-time political secretary to Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Harun Idris, and Mazlan Harun, Datuk Harun’s son. Datuk Harun is of course synonymous with May 13, the tragic race riots of 1969 that erupted two days after the 11 May 1969 general election.
We all know what happened on 13 May 1969, and why it happened, so we need not deliberate on that matter. What I want to talk about is the seminar in the Holiday Villa, which I have in fact already written about before.
“The reason we lost Selangor in 1969 was because of the non-Malay votes. So we decided to take Kuala Lumpur out of Selangor and turn it into Federal Territory to reduce the non-Malay voters in the state. Then we created a new Malay city called Shah Alam so that we can flood Selangor will more Malays and dilute the remaining non-Malay voters in Selangor.”
That was what Fahmi explained -- the reason why Selangor was split into two with the creation of the Federal Territory and the reason why Shah Alam was created as the new State Capital cum Malay city.
“It worked for awhile as long as the Malays vote Umno and the non-Malays vote opposition. But when the Malays also vote opposition then this strategy no longer works. So we need to think of a new strategy.”
The ‘new’ strategy Umno is talking about is not actually new but is an ongoing strategy. This strategy is called gerrymandering and it was invented by the Americans.
This is what Wikipedia has to say about the matter:
Gerrymandering is a form of boundary delimitation (redistricting) in which electoral district or constituency boundaries are deliberately modified for electoral purposes, thereby producing a contorted or unusual shape. The resulting district is known as a gerrymander; however, that noun can also refer to the process.
Gerrymandering may be used to achieve desired electoral results for a particular party, or may be used to help or hinder a particular group of constituents, such as a political, racial, linguistic, religious, or class group.
When used to allege that a given party is gaining a disproportionate power, the term gerrymandering has negative connotations. However, a gerrymander may also be used for purposes that some perceive as positive, notably in US federal voting district boundaries which produce a proportion of constituencies with an African-American or other minority in the majority (these are thus called "minority-majority districts").
You can read more about it here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gerrymandering
Malaysia has turned gerrymandering into an art. For example, when they wanted to topple Ustaz Abdul Hadi Awang, the PAS President, they carved up his Marang constituency in such a manner that areas from across the state, like along the Kuala Berang road, were added to Marang. Hadi, in spite of his stature, lost the election.
The same was done for Lembah Pantai, which was another opposition stronghold. They added Sungai Pencala near Taman Tun Dr Ismail, Kampong Pasir along the Old Kelang Road, and Segambut Dalam near Jalan Ipoh, to Bangsar, and the opposition got wiped out -- until recently when Nurul Izzah won the seat.
The above are just two examples of many. It is no coincidence that ‘Malay’ seats like Putrajaya (97%-98% Malay voters) have as low of 5,000 voters while ‘Chinese’ seats like Selayang have more than 120,000 voters.
In a gerrymandering exercise you lump all the opposition voters into one huge constituency and you spread out the government supporters into many seats. So, the opposition can garner 100,000 votes but it will be only one seat while the 100,000 votes that the ruling party wins will be in three or four seats.
And that was why even though the ruling party garnered only 45% of the popular votes in 1969 it still managed to form the federal government, although without a two-thirds majority in parliament. The 55% of the popular votes that the opposition won was not enough for it to form the federal government. The opposition would have needed to win 60% of the popular votes to form the federal government, which was impossible for the opposition to achieve.
Of course, before 2008 it was easier. You just needed to isolate the non-Malay voters into one large seat and spread out the Malay voters into many seats. But in 2008 this changed. In 2008 the Malays too voted for the non-Malay candidates whereas in the past the opposition Malays meant only PAS -- which was in the rural Malay heartland and not in the cities.
The game has changed. So the rules of the game also need to change. And gerrymandering is not that simple any more. You can no longer redraw the constituency boundaries according to race. Malays too will now vote for Chinese and Indian candidates from non-Malay parties such as DAP and PKR.
So it is back to the drawing board for the election commission (SPR). Next year, they need to sit down and come out with a new formula. Barisan Nasional needs to ensure that it can still form the federal government even if it wins just 40% of the popular votes. And it also needs to ensure it can regain its two-thirds majority in Parliament with a mere 50% of the votes. That is the new game plan.
But to do this they need to first get back their two-thirds majority in parliament. And they need to get back this two-thirds this year so that next year the new constituency boundaries can be settled. Then, when they dissolve parliament and call for new general elections, say mid-2011 or early 2012, the new boundaries would apply.
Some say it is not crucial for Barisan Nasional to have a two-thirds majority in parliament to be able to run this country. If it is only about running this country then that may be true. But it is not true if they need to embark on a new gerrymandering exercise. To do this they need two-thirds of parliament.
And this is why Umno is very keen to buy at least ten or so opposition Members of Parliament. This will give them back their two-thirds majority in parliament.
This was that The Straits Times of Singapore said:
The BN needs 148 seats for a two-thirds majority. With support of the three independents, it will get there with just another eight defectors. A two-thirds majority is not just a psychological booster, but is also necessary for smooth passage of the next redrawing of electoral constituencies that will begin next year.
When Anwar Ibrahim said that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his wife Rosmah Mansor are behind the latest wave of crossovers he was actually not wrong. The man behind this ‘shopping spree’ to buy the opposition Members of Parliament is Hamdan, Najib’s cousin, who was given the Kudat IPP as the ‘cash cow’ to finance the shopping spree.
Of course, the Kudat IPP comes with a ‘commission’ of RM50 million. And this RM50 million is to be used to pay off the opposition Members of Parliament as an inducement to cross over. Hamdan works very closely with the Special Branch and Military Intelligence. His contact in Bukit Aman is Akril Sani while in the Military Intelligence it is Datuk Salleh.
Hamdan’s mobile phone number is +6012-279-5945 and he made the mistake of contacting his key men in the Special Branch and Military Intelligence using this mobile phone so of course we managed to track what he was doing all this while.
The other person in this ring is Zahari Ismail, the man who arranged the meeting between Najib and Hadi Awang. Zahari is one of the directors of Malaysia’s F1 racing team so he has access to a large reserve of funds allocated to ‘research and development’, which he can also use to finance the shopping spree.
So it is actually the taxpayers’ money that is financing all these crossovers.
Another person involved with the ring is the husband of Mumtaz Jaafar. Mumtaz works for Rosmah and also has links with Saiful, the young man who accused Anwar of sodomising him.
If you can remember, Hee of Perak was paid RM25 million. Her price was high because they needed her to topple the Pakatan Rakyat Perak government. So RM25 million can be considered a fair price. Anyhow, Vincent Tan picked up the tab from his ‘special draw’ so it was quite affordable since the Malaysian gamblers were paying for it.
Tan from Penang was paid only RM2 million. It is not much but he has gambling debts up to his eyeballs and the loan sharks or along are camped outside his house so he has no choice but to accept this figure. The along can be very brutal if you don’t pay what they demand so when you are in that situation you are in no position to negotiate for more.
Wee Choo Keong’s problem is more complicating. It involves two mistresses and one who has just given birth and Umno has threatened to expose this scandal. He also has this RM35 million legal problem with Ambank and if this can be settled ‘out of court’ then Wee will certainly become another ‘independent’ Member of Parliament.
Nike’s rallying call is ‘Just Do It’. Umno’s rallying call is ‘Just Duit’. All it takes is money (duit) and Barisan Nasional will get back its two-thirds majority in Parliament whereby the next gerrymandering exercise can be launched. Then it does not matter whether the opposition will win 60% of the popular votes come the next election. Barisan Nasional will still be in power and with a two-thirds majority on top of that.
Now you know what is going on? Yes, that is the real reason these people are crossing over, not all those crap excuses they are giving such as lost confidence, dictator, and whatnot. It is JUST DUIT.
Oh, and before I sign off, keep a close watch on Naza, the Car Czar and AP King of Malaysia. Something interesting is about to happen. And remember, you read it here first.