Barisan Nasional leaders have regarded the state polls as a test of public support for the Barisan Nasional since
the sacking of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
Although the fight for votes in Sabah
have always been robust, it is unlikely
Anwar's sacking would be a contentious
While Anwar has played a prominent role in Sabah Umno and could even be credited for playing a major role in
the last state polls, federal issues matter more. In fact, the opposition PBS has not even bothered to link up with pro-reformasi
In a state where anything political is possible, the word is that Barisan and PBS are already talking about
coming back together. The only question
is whether it should be before or after
There is also this tricky question of
whether the chief minister's rotation system among the three main communities should continue.
Should the PBS return to the coaltion,
it would be a boost to Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir Mohamad's leadership.
At the federal level, the three main
Barisan component parties Umno, MCA and
MIC will hold their elections.
Umno has scheduled to hold its internal
polls in June with the focus on the contest for the deputy president and three vice-president posts.
The main contenders for the number two
slot is said to be Datuk Seri Najib Tun
Razak, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi
and Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah.
In the MCA, moves have been made to
ensure a no-contest elections at the vice-presidency level.
Party president Datuk Seri Dr Ling Liong
Sik and his deputy, Datuk Lim Ah Lek, are certain to win their posts unopposed.
The spotlight will certainly be on the
four vice-president posts now held by
Datuk Chua Jui Meng, Datuk Ong Ka Ting, Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn and Datuk Yap Pian Hon.
Should Youth Chief Datuk Chan Kong Choy
decide to vie for one of the four slots,
as predicted, it means a vacancy in the
top Youth post.
There is also talk, within the party, that a contest between Wanita deputy chief Dr Tan Yew Kew and secretary-general Datuk Dr Ng Yen Yen is in the offing should incumbent
Datuk Teng Gaik Kwan step down.
But the message from the top is “avoid
a contest,'' an advice which members
should consider seriously with a general election looming.
Anwar's court battle will continue to dominate the news next year as his trial will take place from February till June. More charges are expected to be filed against him.
The fate of his former tennis partner S.
Nallakaruppan, who is charged with
possession of ammunition under the ISA, will be known next year. His trial has been postponed to
PAS is expected to be prominent with its
efforts to win the support of voters who
are uneasy with Anwar's sacking from Umno.
So confident is PAS with its plans to
make inroads into states such as Perlis,
Kedah and Terengganu that it has started wooing the non-Malays.
But it is unlikely that the non Malays, regarded as the deciding factor in a closely-contested general
election, will find PAS appealing with
its orthodox practices. Most non-Malays
find the thought of PAS denying Barisan
a two-thirds majority in Parliament
Certainly, DAP must have gauged the
sentiments of the non Malays on the current political scenario as evident by the DAP's moves in distancing itself from PAS of late.
PAS has claimed that its membership has increased five-fold and that the circulation of Harakah has shot to 300,000. However, few in the media and advertising industry believe the unconfirmed circulation
What is confirmed is that sales of most
local newspapers have gone up despite a
boycott by reformasi supporters.
Of interest to Malaysians will also be
the plans of Adil, the reform movement led by Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and a group of academicians.
The movement will certainly generate
more political consciousness. With its multiracial line-up, it will probably find a niche among the middle class. Whether it will have mass appeal remains to be seen.
Adil has also decided to leave out
politicians in an attempt to shrug
off public belief that the reformasi
movement has been hijacked by
PAS. It will have to resort to the
existing channels of democracy if
it wants to gain credence among
the moderates as the use of street
demonstrations is ill-received.
But politics would not be the only story
next year. Economics will share the
limelight as Malaysia attempts to fight itself out of recession.
Despite the pessimism of this year, the
pre-Christmas rally has brought cheer to
local stock market investors. The crowd is back at our securities firm, bringing some resemblance of confidence.
Many Malaysians believe that the bullish
trend will continue with another rally
before Hari Raya and Chinese New
They also believe that Bank Negara will announce some positive steps to ease the one-year freeze on foreign capital outflows imposed in
September, which will be another big
news item next year.
The decision to impose capital controls
and to lower interest rates have brought
positive results to the economy so far.
Many will want to see this impact
continue next year.
For those in the newspaper industry, its almost certain that 1999, the last lap into the next millennium,
will be a memorable one.