The plot continues to thicken in the run up to Malaysia’s intense 2013 General Election. Former Kuala Lumpur Criminal Investigation Division Chief Mat Zain Ibrahim has alleged that Prime Minister Najib filed improper paperwork, going as far as accusing him of deception.
The devil lies in the details in this case, with the Prime Minister’s stated name being the primary source of contention. The Prime Minister’s full name is listed with the election commission as Mohd. (Mohammad) Najib Bin Hj Abd Razak, while the PM filed his paperwork under the shortened name of Dakut Seri (a royal title) Najib Tun Abdul Razak. The actual conflict is due to the lack of Mohd. in the official paperwork.
This discrepancy is most likely the result of an honest mistake on the part of whoever filed the paperwork for the Prime Minister. While this may seem like a minor discrepancy, the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition has made a big deal out of similar discrepancies with Opposition members over the years.
Mr. Ibrahim is now calling for Datuk Seri Najib to be disqualified in the upcoming election. If this were to occur, it would be a major blow to the ruling coalition, which has been trying to ride Najib’s popularity through the upcoming election. In all likelihood, Mr. Ibrahim’s calls will fall on deaf ears and Najib will be in the upcoming election.
The upcoming election will likely be the hardest fought in Malaysia’s history. For the first time since independence, the Opposition coalition has the potential to seize control of the government. If the Opposition were to win, Malaysia could potentially be thrown into chaos.
The Malaysian government has long relied on a patronage system that ensures business interests and politics are closely tied together. Beyond the massive government companies, such as global oil giant PETRONAS, most large businesses in Malaysia rely on government connections to secure major contracts.
Further, an extensive social welfare system has ensured the relative prosperity of the “Malay” race and Bumiputera, the indigenous populations of Malaysia. The Opposition has accused BN of playing a zero sum game, with Chinese and Indian minorities losing economic opportunities and potential prosperity for the sake of Malay affirmative action.
No matter which party wins in the upcoming election, Malaysia would be braced for political and social upheaval. While a strong showing by BN could potentially break the momentum of the growing Opposition, most indicators suggest that even if the Opposition doesn’t win, it should have a strong showing.
There is a serious risk of renewed racial tensions. On May 13, 1969, in the aftermath of another hotly contested election, racial tensions between the Chinese and Malay communities boiled over into direct confrontation and rioting. BN used it as an excuse to suppress the Opposition and install a set of strong security measures and free speech restrictions for decades to come.
Now, with the election battle heating up Malaysia may once again be plunged into chaos.