Some thoughts on GE13

I was asked a common series of questions on the upcoming 13th General Elections. Here are my answers, as posted on the New Mandala website! Thanks goes to Greg Lopez of the Australian National University for this.

1. What do you think will be the most important issue that the new government must address?

The new government must address economic growth and distribution: ensuring there is a strong economic base, new industries and creating an open, innovative environment to attract the right workforce; as well as making sure national wealth reaches the lowest income groups, especially in rural areas that still have no access to proper water and sanitation.

2. What do you think is Barisan Nasional’s greatest strength?

Barisan Nasional’s greatest strength would be its numbers of years as a coalition government, its ability to govern together with all parties. However, this is not saying the governance itself has been of stellar performance.

3. What do you think is Barisan Nasional’s greatest weakness?

Barisan Nasional’s greatest weakness is the fact that its major parties are race-based. This is the biggest constraint it has, if it wants to move beyond ethnic politics, as each party (UMNO, MCA and MIC) will continue having to retreat to their ethnic support bases when campaigning for votes.

4. What do you think is Pakatan Rakyat’s greatest strength?

Pakatan Rakyat’s greatest strength lies in its philosophy of new politics, that politics has to move beyond race. Acknowledging the cultural differences between races, none of the three parties advocates a Malay, Chinese or Indian-based approach to solving national problems. They focus on the community’s particular needs, on raising incomes irrespective of race or creed.

5. What do you think is Pakatan Rakyat’s greatest weakness?

Pakatan Rakyat’s greatest weakness lies in its lack of professional experience as administrators in government, which the civil servants have taken advantage of in the early years of Pakatan Rakyat running the state governments of Selangor, Perak and Penang. This is where Pakatan Rakyat will have to rely on the expertise and experience of trustworthy civil servants, retired civil servants, and other practitioners and academics when it comes into government.

6. What is your hope for Malaysia?

My hope for Malaysia is that its young will grow up in a country they feel they are proud of, that they fully belong to, and a place they will want to live, work, play and retire in, even for their future generations to come.

Tricia Yeoh blogs on

One Reply to “Some thoughts on GE13”

  1. This General Elections will be a game changer if we play it right with less propaganda brainwashing from both sides of the fence and with more real issues addressed at the heart of the nation.

    In my view, Malaysia’s problems inherited from Dr Tun boil down to this: in our efforts to jump-start a nation governed by mediocre ministers and dominated by cronies, Dr Tun tried the strategy of “THE ENDS JUSTIFIES THE MEANS.” As a result, the nation became even more unbalanced with little improvement in human capital.

    Whatever that the “ENDS” denote for each Malaysian, it is basically trying to get the results by hook or crook (e.g. income distribution quotas, ETP targets, money politics to get required seats, Project I.C. in Sabah, etc).

    This is why the nation has deteriorated in its academic research institutions, in intellectual discourse and in cross cultural communications. In other words, people learn not for the fun of learning but for exam results. People start businesses not to create a new value for customers but seek the quickest profits available. This is why many businesses engage in the latest money spinning asset reflation game called property development.

    We accepted the fast track economic goals at the expense of fairness, justice, due process and genuine kindness to minorities, the underprivileged and the politically and spiritually oppressed. (In the late 1980s till the early 1990s, our economy was lucky due to the unintended consequences of the Plaza Accord when the Japanese had to revalue their Yen upwards and prompt a mass migration of Japanese MNCs into the emerging Tiger nations. The 1997 Asian financial crisis exposed the weakness of this economic model).

    Instead of teaching the underprivileged how to learn, how to catch fish, the government gave/promised them loads of fish in perpetuity. Meanwhile, there was a suppression of all freedom of the press and freedom of inter-religious conversion. Only with the advent and popularity of the Internet in recent years has there been a growing intellectual forum for Malaysians to voice out their thoughts, political and spiritual frustrations.

    Looking ahead, I believe it is time for due process to be the main driving force for change in Malaysia. It is time for the “MEANS JUSTIFIES THE ENDS” approach to solving our day-to-day and strategic problems.

    Whatever the election results, for 15 days, we Malaysians can start campaigning for our values and aspirations on the Internet/Facebook to be voiced out instead of whole-heartedly accepting the message of our politicians/party of choice.

    But if we continue on the same old path of seeking the ends at all costs, then we may not be so lucky this time round. True reform starts with knowing where we came from and how we managed, despite all the compelling reasons for failure, to survive as a nation without a major civil crisis since 1969. Thankfully, I humbly confess that it is only by God’s grace that we have peace and good communal relations in this country in spite of the divisive work of the extremists.

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