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Making sense of crossovers, Part 2: Justifications

The March ’08 election results took everybody by surprise. The Opposition never expected to seize control of five states and was totally unprepared. They had been conditioned by events in the past to have no faith in the Electoral Commission and electoral process. But in recent years uncontrolled media such as the Internet helped expose acts of corruption endorsed the ruling party. BN was seen as being corrupt and self-serving.

Voters voted against BN, not for the Opposition. Instead of realising this, the Opposition felt they had the mandate of the people and were it not for the ‘corrupt electoral process’ they would have seized the nation. So they embarked on a quest to seize control by getting BN MPs to switch parties. PKR has been the prime mover of this quest, with PAS and DAP giving silent support of this course of action.

Never mind the fact that these BN MPs are the same MPs that have been hated all these years. Never mind the fact that an overwhelming number of elected representatives in the Opposition are new to politics and unaware of the responsibilities of an MP or ADUN.

When you are part of a group and the leaders do something you disapprove of, you may fall into a state of cognitive dissonance. “I am part of a group of good people and everything we do is right. Yet my leaders are proposing something I know is wrong. Both points of view can’t be right!” To stay in the group one has to believe the leaders are right, and the best way of doing that is by convincing others.

So justifications were needed to ensure that Opposition supporters are still part of the morally superior bloc they claim to be. The diehards repeat it to everyone out of blind devotion, while the fence-sitters repeat it to everyone to convince themselves they are with the right group.

Here are some of the common justifications:

1. To rescue Sabah and Sarawak

Sabah and Sarawak have been suffering economically for decades, despite being our main sources of petroleum exports. Sabah in particular has been accepted as a ‘permanent’ BN state due to the immigrant population outnumbering the locals – immigrants who always vote for BN. The people living there have long been exploited and ignored by their politicians, and the promise of the Opposition to better their lives is an attractive one.

But how would you explain a crossover of Sabah MPs, when come next election the voters will vote BN again? Four years is too short to make the grand sweeping changes that people imagine the Opposition to be capable of.

2. To make it easier/possible to govern the opposition states

Ronnie Liu (DAP – Pandamaran) highlighted this fact in a ceramah. He said that state governments had their hands tied when it came to simple tasks like constructing a hospital or a post office. Too much money and power is concentrated in the Federal Government, so much so that winning the state did not accord that much control after all.

It would seem that our nation has been structured in such a way that a political coalition must control the states and the federal government in order to effectively govern the people. This seems like a good argument, but to what extent is it true and why is this message in particular not widely spread?

It could be because this justification only emerged after a few months of governing, so it could not contest against the earlier, more popular justifications.

3. To fight cronyism and corruption

This caters to the long standing tradition of the Opposition of exposing corruption. However there is a big difference between exposing corruption and fixing it. We are living in a nation saturated with corruption, and too much exposure can cause a serious collapse of systems within the government.

To be effective in the long term, the Opposition has to slowly make changes to the way things are run. But it promises swift change. It is the equivalent of rushing to build a house on a foundation infested with termites.

4. Because the majority of the nation supports it

This justification is used by the diehard haters of the electoral process in the country. Their view is that as long as most of the states support the Opposition, the others should fall suit. Apparently votes belonging to voters in the ‘losing team’ don’t matter.

If the electoral process was as corrupt as they claim, BN would not have allowed five states to fall into Opposition hands.

5. Because UMNO leadership is in disarray since the election

UMNO has had a lot of infighting and finger pointing to try and explain their loss to themselves. They are another victim suffering from cognitive dissonance. For so long they had been unbeatable and now they had lost so much overnight it is almost impossible to accept. This internal conflict shows a weak leadership.

But what about the leadership of the Opposition, is it strong? The Pakatan Rakyat coalition of DAP-PAS-PKR has no constitution, or agreed-upon guidelines for governing the nation. PKR in particular is suffering from its cult behaviour and undefined culture, having a large number of newly elected leaders unclear on what their party ideology is.

6. Because BN might sabotage Pakatan Rakyat

Some members feel that BN may try something drastic in order to hang on to their power. This drastic action may be an assassination, detention without trial, perhaps even a racial riot. Yes, we have draconian laws in this country. But our nation’s public image is a top priority for the ruling government, thus they try their best not to invoke them.

They have used media control to limit the information that reaches the masses, but the Internet has been used to get around this control. BN can’t censor the Internet – that is viewed internationally as the act of a totalitarian regime.

Despite the demonisation of BN they have not initiated mass arrests of Opposition members or shot them. Since Anwar was freed from prison he has been a threat to them, yet no action was taken against him. Since March ‘08 the entire Opposition was a threat, yet still no action was taken. Any drastic action runs the risk of street demonstrations, with the threat of escalation leading to a State of Emergency. In our globalised economy we cannot afford to invoke Emergency Rule, which would cripple our economy for years.

All that BN allegedly has done since the election is create a sodomy case against Anwar and arrest Perak politicians on fake corruption charges. Not the hard-lined action that supporters of this ‘sabotage’ idea are expecting.

How does being in fear of a BN controlled government justify courting BN MPs? To put it another way, it is like telling them, “Please sir, we’re scared you’ll lock us up, why don’t you join us so we can be sure we are all friends?”


More often than not, the Opposition does not communicate their goals to the people very well. Actions are taken and decisions made but the reasoning is unknown. In explaining and rebuking some of the justifications for crossing over, it is hoped that you have a better understanding of the arguments of the Opposition.

Making sense of crossovers

This series of articles tries to analyse the unending efforts of the Federal Opposition to take over the government by getting BN MPs to join them. Their goal is to get at least 31 BN MPs to change their allegiance on September 16th.

Part 1 looks at how PKR grew and the state it is in now, as they are the prime mover of the crossover ‘operation’.

Part 2 discusses the many justifications heard to support the crossovers.

Part 3 discusses the moral and democratic issues and suggested alternatives.

Part 4 describes ways to prevent and encourage crossovers.

Part 5 offers some parting thoughts and views on recent events

Written by ak57

September 17, 2008 at 12:18 am

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  1. […] Part 2 discusses the many justifications heard to support the crossovers. […]

  2. […] Part 2 discusses the many justifications heard to support the crossovers. […]

  3. […] Part 2 discusses the many justifications heard to support the crossovers. […]

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