Trouble in Paradise?
Is country lifting the new shoplifting?
In many countries, a government that had permitted $4.5BN to go missing from the state fund, chaired by the prime minister himself would struggle to be re-elected. Around the same time, the $681m had suddenly made a brief appearance in the prime minister’s account, before he spent it all. The prime minister Dato' Sri Haji Mohammad Najib bin Tun Haji Abdul Razak, breezily stated that the funds were from an unnamed source: clearly a transparent cover-up. With the re-election creeping up slowly, dismissing officials and solely complaining about the funds is just not enough; this could be the final straw for voters. Luckily, in Malaysia votes are just the icing on the cake.
In any sensible electoral system, the ‘Barisan Nasional Party’ would not be in office. The coalition was hanging by a thread in the most recent election. The ‘Barisan Nasional’ lost the majority vote earning a mere 47% compared to the opposition’s 51%. Thankfully, voting is just for display, and the unabashedly biased constitution is their saving grace; securing 60% of the 222 seats in parliament for the Barisan Nasional Party.
This ill-deserved success occurred before the looting of 1MDB (1 Malaysia Development Board), a strategic development company which aims to drive initiatives for long-term economic development through global partnerships as well as promoting foreign direct investment. The prime minister, his stepson and others have been pointed at by the American Justice Department for fraudulent transactions out of 1MDB. With $681 million missing, an elaborate shopping spree was due: paintings by Monet and Picasso, a private jet, diamond necklaces, a penthouse in Manhattan and a gambling trip in Las Vegas. This extravagant shopping spree had the alarm bells ringing from Singapore to Switzerland, who have also been investigating.
This fragile situation is likely to have left Mr Najib’s popularity vulnerable, especially since parliament was dissolved on the 6th of April 2018, leaving him 60 days until the re-election. Faced with the risk of failure, the government rigging the system has become second nature. Despite the Prime Minister’s shocking record, the new constituency boundaries just about secure another term.
With the election less than 60 days away, gerrymandering will lead the way, and of course bribery. Constituency boundaries have been drawn to ensure that a significant proportion of the opposition voters are cramped in a few seats meanwhile leaving loyal party supporters to form a slim majority . The new boundaries have had successfully placed two oppositions into the same seat in the state of Perak. Gerrymandering is further utilised with another form of abuse; Malapportionment. Malapportionment has allowed districts of uneven populations to be created so in theory; it takes many more votes to elect an opposition MP compared to a member of the Barisan Nasional party. This practice is made in illegal in a substantial number of counties including Malaysia; the constitution clearly states that electoral districts must be ‘APPROXIMATELY’ equal in size. But it seems in this case one can always argue what is approximate.
Despite the Malaysians being able to vote, the rigged system steals the meaning of their vote. The prime minister may be unscrupulous, but he is not idiotic.