A victory for all Malaysians

Though some may be apprehensive of ruling coalition's arrogance due to its spectacular performance in the 11th general election yesterday, I view the results with buoyancy more than despondency.

For it is not only a major victory for ruling the Barisan Nasional, it also signals a major step forward in Malaysian democracy and a victory for all Malaysians.

In the battle for the hearts and minds of the Malays over political Islam, moderation appears to have triumphed over extremism and fundamentalism.

The election was not so much a referendum on Pak Lah as prime minister but a referendum on the PAS' Islamic agenda.

Terengganu has been reclaimed by BN. PAS spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat almost lost his Chempaka state seat (Kelantan) and party president Abdul Hadi Awang lost his Marang parliamentary seat in Terengganu.

That PAS was routed is a clear signal that even in the poorer rural sections of the East Coast, zealots who would want to take the country back to AD600 are not wanted.

It is the clearest signal to foreign investors that they should re-rate Malaysia upwards and come back in force because Malaysia is not, at the moment, thank God, going the way of the Taliban.

Our neighbours like Thailand in the north and Singapore in the south will sigh in relief. And so will George Bush on the other side of the world.

Now is the time for BN to pump in all requisite funds into the East Coast to develop the states there so that the people will not feel left out in the thrust towards development and economic well-being.

Keadilan was rejected because it evinced no praxis or agenda beyond redemption of its patron.

The bigger reason is it has evinced no backbone or principles in being neither here or there on the big issue of PAS' Islamic state versus the secular Federal Constitution.

Had the DAP not stuck to its principle to dissociate itself from Barisan Alternatif dominated by PAS and serve as an opposition to that opposition, it would have suffered the same disastrous defeat as Keadilan.

In hindsight, it was ironical for PAS president to describe Lim Kit Siang and Karpal Singh as political dinosaurs when they won (with Kit Siang by a margin of almost 10,000 votes), and he (Hadi) lost his own parliamentary seat!

The DAP has made a come back at the expense of PAS precisely by reason of its opposition against PAS's fundamentalism.

I don't think the resurgence of DAP ought to be interpreted as revival of Chinese Malaysian support for the MCA/Gerakan.

The comeback of DAP's top honchos is a clear demonstration that Malaysians want a responsible and credible opposition to bring up national rather than narrow sectarian religious issues as PAS did in Parliament.

It also shows how Hadi has misread the political landscape after Sept 11, Bali and other suicide bombings.

I hope this demonstrates that Malaysians are not dumb or oblivious to those who sacrifice for principles. Politicians and political parties are rewarded if they stick to principles. They will be punished otherwise.

In getting its strongest mandate over, BN should now know what the ingredients are for a winning formula are and the benchmarks by which it will be measured in elections to come particularly by younger better educated voters. These benchmarks include a more efficient civil service, better governance in rejecting extremism (whether racial or religious) and battling corruption nepotism and cronyism.

The election results today is a major step for the country in moving forward in political maturation. And perhaps it has something to do with the antagonism and political rivalry of two men, one still in prison and the other retired from position of helmsman.

Because of the unceremonious dumping and incarceration of the person now in prison, civil societies have proliferated to foster and engender greater rights consciousness amongst Malaysians influencing them to vote for democracy rather than theocracy.

And it was the intense anger generated by the treatment of the one imprisoned that had first driven throngs of people to embrace of PAS which in turn led to its ascendancy and boldness in daring to show its true colours thereby providing Malaysians a chance to glimpse into the abyss and say, no thank you.'

Lastly, it is the departure of the helmsman that has revived support for the dominant party within the ruling coalition.