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The Never Ending Fixation on the 13th General Election and TMI

Malaysia is probably the most politicised nation state in South East Asia today. I dare say that we are even more politicised that our fiery neighbour, Indonesia. They probably beat us only in having more street rallies, bombings of religious sites and (Malaysian) flag burning demonstrations. And by virtue of that statement, Malaysians are probably the most politicised people in South East Asia.

In other words, we are becoming more Machiavellian than we ever thought! If you don't believe me, just read through the political tweets in TwitterJaya or Facebook postings by the Barisan or Pakatan activist/cyber troopers. By saying that, I am not accusing people who hold a Machiavellian political view are all bad and wrong.

The issue here is that sometimes people tend to accuse their political opponents as practicing Machiavellian politics without them realising that they too are "guilty" of adopting the same Machiavellian tactics. For example, we have become more partisan than ever before to the extent that even facts and truth has taken a back seat in favour of political partisanship. Attack, Misinformation and Damage control are the name of the game.

But, how and when did it all started? Simple. One, the new political landscape in Malaysia post-March 8 General Elections. What kind of landscape change you may ask? Five states fell to the Opposition parties (Perak was taken back by Barisan in 2009). Two, the growing influence of the alternative media, particularly Malaysiakini and TheMalaysianInsider and the increasing popularity of the social media, namely Facebook and Twitter.

Election Date
If there is one thing that is unique about Malaysian politics, it must be our fixation on election date. Glancing through the newspaper editorials, postings in the social media and blogosphere, one should be able to notice that the most talked about question today is; "when is the 13th General Election will be held?"

A couple of months ago, some have expressed confidently that the Prime Minister Dato' Sri Najib Tun Razak will dissolve the parliament on 11th November (11.11.11). Their argument - number 11 is Najib's favourite number. But to their disappoinment, nothing happened. 11.11.11 came and went peacefully. More recently, I saw a Facebook posting from someone claiming to have gotten source from the "SB" saying that the next elections will be held in February 2012. While one mainstream newspaper journalist predicted that elections could be held either in March or July 2012.

But the real truth is, I believe, only god knows. I don't think even Najib (to some extent Rosmah) is firm enough about when to hold for an election.

The question now is, why are we so fixated with speculating the election date? Well, the answer probably lies in the fact that traditionally since the era of the Tunku, it is the Prime Minister's prerogative to call for elections. Hence, the speculations and predictions from soothsayers and "Oracles" comes naturally, with many claiming to have gotten their so-called reliable information from their respective sources or perhaps through their own fantasy.

13th General Election
If there is one thing that is almost certain, it's got to be that the 13th General Election is around the corner. The tone of the rhetorics at the recently concluded UMNO General Assembly is evident enough. And secondly, it will be Barisan's toughest election contest ever.

If the previous elections were all about Barisan aiming to defend their two thirds majority in parliament, that ain't the case anymore. Today, it is all about defending Putrajaya - the seat of the federal power. March 8 has somewhat given a new hope for the opposition parties and the people in the sense that the Barisan government is not invincible. They too can be defeated as proven in Penang, Kedah and Selangor.

But if you've been reading too much political news from The Malaysian Insider, then you'd probably be brainwashed into believing that for every new government initiatives, reform policies or political announcements by PM Najib, they were all planned with the forthcoming elections at the back of Najib's mind.

Check out the following headlines and see for yourself TheMalaysianInsider (TMI)'s news report and their never ending "as polls loom". It makes me wonder, what actually "as polls loom" means? Technically it should mean something that is about to happen, isn't it? But in the case of TMI, anything goes.
TMI - Snap polls loom as GST put off again (Oct 13,2010)
TMI - As polls loom, Umno repairs ties with Gerakan (Nov 10,2010)
TMI - Umno postpones polls as snap polls loom (Dec 1,2010)
TMI - Najib pays Felda settlers RM100m as polls loom (Dec 25,2010)
TMI - As polls loom, Gerakan quells dissent in Penang (Dec 29,2010)
TMI - MCA reaches out to young voters as polls loom (Jan 8,2011)
TMI - Putrajaya doles out RM2.5b to schools as polls loom (Feb 10,2011)
TMI - As polls loom, Pakatan moves to repair battered image (July 23,2011)
TMI - As polls loom, Najib warns women against empty promises (Aug 25,2011)
TMI - Gerakan to name new Penang boss today as polls loom (Nov 17,2011)
TMI - As polls loom, Umno delegates swear loyalty to party (Dec 3,2011)

So perhaps by now you should be able to figure out why is it that most Malaysians are so fixated with linking everything that the government does with the next General Elections. To some extent it is due to the alternative media (or rather the new mainstream media) that feeds us with the "polls looming" news headlines!

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