Malaysia, Japan, Thailand – In. Out. Out?
In Malaysia, Anwar is on the way in despite UMNO giving the impression that they are teaming up with PAS against Anwar’s pro-minority stance. Thwarted 10 years ago by his benefactor Prime Minister turned enemy, Anwar is on his way back to revitalise Malaysian politics proper. Permatang Pauh is made up of 69% Malays and 31% non-Malays and still Anwar won, showing that race-based politics might be on its way out in Malaysia. Better than the kris-waving during the UMNO General Assembly was Anwar’s progressive plea of “Anak Melayu Anak Saya, Anak Cina Anak Saya, Anak India Anak Saya…”
But can Bapa Reformasi really hold on to the Indian and Chinese votes without losing Malay votes in the rest of Malaysia? A Malaysian Malaysia proposed by the PAP and Lee Kuan Yew was drowned out by cries of the need for bumiputra dominance about 40 years ago. This time around, there might still be hope that cries of ketuanan rakyat or people dominance would silence that of ketuanan Melayu or Malay dominance. Malaysia needs Anwar.
In Japan, Fukuda, thwarted at every turn since the Democratic Party of Japan dominated the upper house in July last year, is out meaning that Japan has 11 Prime Ministers in 15 years. Now that is really a disruptive revolving door premiership. While Abe at least could explain his way out that he was ill, Fukuda just threw in the towel like that. Nevertheless, in a snap poll, the Japanese however still want LDP to be in-charge rather than the opposition. However, Japan is going to be very unpopular with the rest of Asia if LDP allows colourful hardliner Aso to be the next PM. Japan just needs another charismatic Koizumi.
In Thailand, poor Samak is having a hard time and being pushed into a corner. He is getting nervous and even shutting down anti-PPP sites presumably. By invoking an emergency, the die is cast and if the PAD squatters don’t disperse, would the military have the commitment to drive them off? If they don’t, Samak loses face and power and his time as premier is fast running out after a 3-month standoff with the PAD mob. Thailand is on the brink of another coup and another democratically PM with rural support to be shown the door. Maybe that is why the King Never Smiles in Thailand with all this military-monarchy-mobocracy trouble mocking Thai democracy. Although Thaksin is out of the political picture for now, PAD wants to be sure and exorcise all remnants of his TRT shadows out of parliament, including Samak. Bangkok Thais don’t need another Thaksin.