Sunday 23 October 2011

How Democracy works in Malaysia:

Today’s lesson:

Vote Buying and Cleintalism.


This orgy of giving, giving and giving our money away to buy votes for UMNO and to the less deserving UMNO causes must stop. What Najib tried to do in Sibu and failed he is trying to do to the whole country –with, I am sure, ultimately the same result. But what is Najib to do when vote buying and clientelism enjoy widespread electoral support and does influence voting behaviour?

Our problem is that bad behaviour by UMNO is good politics for UMNO and good politics by UMNO is bad politics for UMNO. An incongruent paradox indeed! From Mahathir, UMNO understood that it needed an alignment between vote buying and the economic development of the country :   a judicious balance in itself requiring the wisdom of King Solomon if UMNO is to win in elections.

Najib has taken this to another level. Vote buying and clientelism is central to his platform of winning the 13th general election. The economic development of Malaysia has now taken a back seat.

CLIENTELISM : The exchange of votes for favors conditional
                        on being elected.

None demonstrated cleintelism so directly as his pact with the people of Sibu where he offered RM5 Million on condition of having the BN representative elected. Suffice to say that cleintelism works better for the incumbents than for the opposition as the incumbent normally has deeper pockets!

VOTE FOR CASH: Vote for cash or other tangible rewards is
                            a straight forward I scratch your back you
                            scratch mine situation.

While the opposition might be inclined to dabble in this should the opportunity arises, Najib has fine tuned this into an art form with the tabling of the recent budget. Consider this:

·      RM2 Billion of infrastructure contracts reserved for
       Bumiputra/UMNO/cronies owned businesses.

·      Ethnic Chinese voters : No new Taxes.

·      One off payment of RM500 to all households with a
       monthly income of RM3000 or less.

·      The wages, bonus and pensions of 1.3 million civil
        servants  will rise.

·      Retirement age will rise to 60 years old.

·      BN will maintain subsidies programme on key 
       commodities including sugar and petrol.

With one foul swoop Najib has established himself as the Mother of Vote Buying in Malaysia!

But vote buying has no clear vote-enforcement mechanism. You give the voters their inducement now and if they do not vote for you…say la ve! 

Cleintelism has the added advantage of requiring the voters to vote for the candidate since only if the candidate is elected will the voters receive the agreed benefit!

End of Lesson!

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