KUALA LUMPUR: It has been a year since Malaysia’s landmark election in March 2008. Since then, constant wrangling has left the country’s politicians physically drained and mentally distracted.
The “political tsunami” had swept the opposition Pakatan Rakyat alliance into power in five key states and had denied the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition a crucial two-thirds majority in Parliament.
But the initial euphoria and optimism have now been replaced by a sense of anxiety and frustration.
Anwar Ibrahim, opposition parliamentary leader, said: “There is a danger of complacency or lethargy creeping in. There’s a need to rejuvenate.”
Mr Anwar has been put on the defensive by a series of events that has gripped the fledging alliance – from Perak, where defections by Pakatan assemblymen caused the northern state to fall, to a nude picture scandal involving Selangor executive councillor, Elizabeth Wong, which saw her resign under mounting pressure last month.
The 62-year-old, who is still fighting off allegations of sodomy, issued a stern warning to all his party members. “You wish to support the agenda? You remain. You wish to enrich yourself? You join UMNO,” said Mr Anwar.
The ruling UMNO party blames him for the turmoil as he had issued threats to topple the federal government by September 16 last year.
Shahrir Samad, domestic and consumer affairs minister, UMNO supreme council member, said: “We are accused of politicking too much, whereas we are not the ones who have indulged in politicking.”
While UMNO has blamed the constant politicking for its slow pace of reform, opposition-controlled states such as Penang, led by Chinese-based DAP, just want to be left alone.
Jeffrey Ooi, opposition strategist, DAP, said: “We want to focus on our job. We want to have the least amount of distractions because of crossovers and money politics. We intend to stay on.”
With three by-elections due on April 7, the political temperature looks set to rise further, and it will not be an easy ride for Deputy Prime Minister Najib Razak, who will become Malaysia’s sixth prime minister at the end of this month.
While both sides blaming each other for causing all the distractions, the people lament the waste of time, energy and taxpayers’ money, which they said could have been better focused to jointly fix the economy amid an onslaught of the global financial crisis.
Channel News Asia