In a year when the rest of the country has forgotten him, Malaysian opposions politicians are paying due homage to Darwin on the 200th anniversary of his birth. This general election has turned into a ferocious display of the survival of the fittest. As Darwin told us there is neither emotion nor kinship nor morality as the strong proceed to decimate the weaker of the species. The processes of the laws of political nature are a marvel to behold.. As ideas go, this had its merits for Mahathir desperate to earn any dividend from his political depression. Najib recognised that Mahathir was a spent force, and its only hope lay in becoming an attachment to the new party ready to accept it as an appendage. Votaries of this theory must have congratulated themselves with the prospect that if Mahathir could lengthen the tail with disparate alliances, one bright morning the tail would become long enough to wag at Najib.
Loyalty is an imbecile’s begging bowl. Those who ask for it do not deserve it. The only measure of a relationship is strength. Where there is a conflict in assessment, the dispute is being put to test without reference to yesterday’s commitments.Economist Jomo Kwame Sundaram is the latest prominent analysts to predict a BN victory for the upcoming general election.”It is the new year, so it is traditional to make predictions about the future.
When political opponents become friends the first pattern of this general election has emerged:
the really fierce contest is not between traditional foes,but between yesterday’s friends, particularly where they shared power.has Mahathir undergone a dramatic transformation in his conscientisation to people-centred philosophies or is he simply stuck in his anti-Najib groove? Do the other parties in the Opposition coalition even care if he has become a born-again democrat with a new commitment to human rights and social justice?
Surely,Mahathir time and the tide of corruption, bigotry and racism would have taught the founding fathers of this new party. Although as a general principle, a race-based party is a big no-no, in this unique case, the formation of an Umno-style party by ex-Umno president and deputy president who have many supporters in Umno has the potential to take away Umno members who would otherwise never vote for a multi-racial party.
The first pattern of this general election has emerged: the really fierce contest is not between traditional foes, but between yesterday’s friends, particularly where they shared power. The more decisive story is , where shifting mindsets have ignited a splinter-explosion. has pre-empted the post-election bullying with a question of his own:The more decisive story is within the UPA, where shifting mindsets have ignited a splinter-explosion.Deputy Prime Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi last night exposed efforts being made by certain quarters to ensure he would lose the Bagan Datuk parliamentary seat in the 14th general election (GE14). PAS is so anxious to stop Lim Kit Siang and Mahathir , why support a Third Front government from outside, or even inside, instead of demanding primacy of power in any coalition? In 2013, PAS and the others were caught flat-footed. This time they have begun a dance to a tune of their composition New alliances are impervious to anything but the calculation of a temporary bargain. Every duel is a cold battle, untouched by past dalliance, or the lure of future romance. Divorce terms are being negotiated without the door being shut on the option of remarriage.Deals are being made, and abandoned at the first prospect of a higher bid. Trust has been abandoned with impunity in states as diverse in their politics as PAS, Shall we just say that the last tea party of the season has not been held at . The kettle will keep boiling across the country till the final moment of nomination.
In an exalted tribute to Darwin, we should probably rename the Election Commission and call it the Selection Commission. The survival of the fittest is the law out there as well.
The conventional tools of democratic appeal have faded in the culture of self-preservation as the highest good. There is no point bemoaning the collapse of ideology. Convictions cannot survive in a junkyard auction. Ideology is too far a horizon. This election is shorn of even a new idea. Can you cite a single speech that has floated a new thought?
The irrelevance of every manifesto is obvious in the absurdity of its content. Parties are offering so many things free that we might as well do away with currency. There is insanity in the competition for handouts. How will any future government pay for what is on offer? Who cares? A ruling party’s promises beg the obvious question: why weren’t these offers implemented when the party was in power?
Politicians know that no one is gullible in their tribe. Every election is a Russian roulette: someone will end up with a brain injury if not worse. But their manifestos and speeches imply that they consider the voter to be a gull. But the glitter of the packaging cannot really hide the fact that there is nothing in the package. When the minorities hear that they will get reservations this time around they do not break out in joyous dance. The choice before them is not for the best on offer but the least worst. Their vote will scatter in the fog of uncertainty.There is only one prominent politician who is not making any deal with any other party.
PKR president has clearly decided that the moment for deals is after the strength of every species has been revealed in the ballot. She is courteous to friends, offering them a decent dinner when they come calling. But she is utterly indifferent to any suggestion on seat adjustments. Their objective is to sow the seeds around and wait for the elections which, in their estimate, are less than five months away. Age is with them now. They have to find a way of getting the country behind them.
Evolution, as Darwin pointed out, needs time of course, but human beings did not become the supreme species without intelligence.
The main characteristic of the Donald Trump presidency, inaugurated yesterday, promises to be changeability and uncertainty. The new US president has taken contrary and contradictory stands on the same issue time and again. His nominees to key posts in his administration have contradicted their chief ’s stand on a number of key subjects, not to speak of their own previous positions. All that can be said for sure is that President Trump, as leader of the world’s largest economy, the most powerful military and the traditional leader in a number of global agencies and rule-setting bodies, will change the world as we know it.
The US economy has been showing robust growth and job creation for the last few quarters. Any attempt by the Trump administration to accelerate growth is likely to create more problems than it solves. Take the case of restricting work visas for the tech industry. Unemployment rate in the US tech sector is so low that rationing visas would create a manpower scarcity that pushes up wages, makes projects and products more costly and drives startups that depend on cheap manpower out of the US. The pace at which the Fed raises interest rates could accelerate, if Trump delivers on his promise to step up spending and drives up the fiscal deficit.
That would weaken currencies in the emerging world, including in India, and give resurgent commodity prices added bite. A stronger dollar would boost imports and widen the US current account deficit, to finance the demand for additional foreign savings spawned by a Trump spending spree.
Trump has promised to be tough on China, accused of stealing American jobs with unfair trade. At the same time, Trump’s isolationist streak, downplaying Nato and calling upon South Korea and Japan to fend relatively more for themselves, would strengthen China and its ability to project power in Asia. That is good news for China’s friend to our west, not for India. Russia’s place in a Trumpian world is another mystery, as of now. But everything need not be gloomy. The lotus, after all, is born from muck, and because of muck.