Rewriting the Malaysian PM script


After whatever damage might have been done in the Internet age, our Leader of the Opposition must still be commended for having back-pedalled rapidly on his jocular pronouncements against the Malaysian PM as guest of honour at our National Day celebrations and his announced closure of our embassy in Kuala Lumpur, should a future MSM-MMM government assume office that is.

Journalists had obviously not grasped the unsaid nuances and complexities in Mr Berenger’s public declarations to that effect! No doubt the Malaysian PM will have been informed and smiled at Mr Berenger’s drolleries. As for the perspective of an embassy in the Middle East hotbed of fiefdoms and monarchies engaged in occult and less occult activities (cf Wikileaks), it deserves more seasoned analysis and judgment from our political leaders.

On a lighter note, since the Berenger-Pravind Jugnauth tête-à-têtes are already identifying political appointees for what their courtesans believe are juicy destinations, old or new, let’s have some more names for such “exotic” destinations as France, Washington, Mother India, China, UK, Geneva and so on. Why not transparency across the board rather than leave one segment of the population with a definite impression of communal manipulation?…

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Rewriting the Remake

The mental image of those two unexpected love-birds (grand frère and ti frère) locked in secret negotiations for places, tickets, hierarchy and postings is faintly amusing, if only because the writing is clearly on the wall. Forget their reciprocal “tit for tats” in recent years and consider only the following to get the general drift.

Since the now-avowed plotting at State House to overturn an elected government began two years ago, Mr Berenger has already made it implicitly clear that none of the SAJ and MSM “promises” or assurances have materialised. No bunch of defectors and transfuges from the LP-PMSD government benches, no falling “grappes of jamalacs”, no hope of a motion of censure, no wave of sympathy when SAJ finally resigned from the State House to rush into the political fray, no more than a few hundred local people at the highly financed MSM-MMM meetings, no game-changer at regional and municipal elections last year, and, to cap it all, a rather laughable episode to lure or seduce the PMSD away from power… the list is long!

Whatever the difficulties of the incumbent governing team, the urge for Mr Berenger to maintain the MMM-MSM “remake” opposition alliance in a 30-30 seat formula has been continuously receding. In fact, Mr Berenger is now bent on applying every pressure to change the “remake” game rules to his and his party’s advantage: references to the upcoming joint 1st of May meeting and the MMM “Assemblée des délegués” are crystal clear. So is Berenger’s pressurising timetable.

The bargaining (the MMM sympathisers say, blackmailing) position of the MSM 3% would be whittled down to size: after all, the MMM regulars had repeatedly chided the LP for the 18 seats offered in 2010 to the MSM, a “very small partner”, a “snake” said the more unkindly. Some of the rewriting is already being leaked out or announced publicly by Mr Berenger.

SAJ is not to expect Presidency at Reduit after his spell as putative PM. Both future President and Speaker to be MMM appointees; MSM candidate-hopefuls to be vetted and some, like MSM president Soodhun, may well be out; Pravind himself not to expect 3rd position in hierarchy, still less the Finance portfolio, reserved for the MMM; the Electoral Reform terms of Mr Berenger to be accepted “in toto”…

On this trend one can surmise that Pravind Jugnauth could gratefully emerge from the tête-à-tête series with 20 MSM seats, a limited number of which might generously be conceded by Berenger in urban areas. For face-saving purposes, the MMM could helpfully push a half-dozen or more of its own people under MSM disguise, the virtual 30-30 package presented officially as a single MSM-MMM list without overt party distinctions. In short, is a 40-20 package in the offing? Taking further account of potential electoral outcome, that would ensure SAJ iron-clad in a largely figurehead PM role, a fate he avoided once in 1982.

What will be left of the “remake” terms after those tête-à-têtes one wonders? Remake 2.0? Will Pravind Jugnauth nonetheless feel this upcoming revised deal better than the one he wrought out with the LP in 2010? Was Mr Berenger faintly ironical by saying the MMM might well go to elections with some “junior partner”? With the rewriting under way, he already has one up his sleeve it seems…

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Berenger’s electoral reform

Should this evolve as a plausible scenario, and Mr Berenger’s bull-charging his way to wrap up all revised remake terms before end March is a clear indication to that effect, one may well wonder why Mr Berenger is pressing forth to detail the electoral reform to which the MSM is supposed to be assenting.

Even in the case of a marginal victory at the polls, he knows that the MMM-MSM alliance would fall far short of the qualified majority required to bring any constitutional reform. To what purpose such precipitation then? Haven’t a clue. Another twist in the offing? What is clear is that the country needs consensus, confidence and stability for investment, growth and major reforms — constitutional, political, economic and social. Constitutional reform and broad consensus on major national issues can only be achieved through alignment of major political forces.


* Published in print edition on 7 March 2014

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