Yesterday, former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Khir Toyo was charged with land fraud involving his Balinese-style mansion in Shah Alam.
The Sungai Besar Umno division leader was accused of knowingly purchasing two land lots and a bungalow for RM3.5 million in Section 7, Shah Alam, from Ditamas Sdn Bhd in 2007 despite the company buying the property for RM6.5 million on December 23, 2004.
Recently, BN leaders have conceded that they would likely fail again to regain its two-thirds parliamentary majority in the 13th general election, but were confident of wresting a few states back from Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
Last month, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad had also said that BN was capable of taking one or two states from PR because, he said, the opposition was in disarray. However, he added that BN would likely fail to regain its two-thirds majority in Parliament.
The Economist Intelligence Unit report also pointed out that liberal middle-class Malays have swung from the biggest Malay party to the federal opposition.
“Although voters in the rural heartland of peninsular Malaysia continue to support Umno, a significant number of better-educated, liberal middle-class Malays have deserted the ruling party in favour of the opposition,” the report said.
The Economist Intelligence Unit report noted, however, that PR would likely fail to capture Putrajaya despite making further gains.
“The PR will make gains, notwithstanding internal difficulties in the aftermath of Anwar’s likely removal from the political scene, but the opposition alliance is unlikely to garner enough parliamentary seats to be able to form a government,” said the report.
The report predicted that Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim would be convicted on his second sodomy charge that could subsequently tear apart the opposition coalition.
“The leader of the PR, Anwar Ibrahim, a former deputy prime minister, is likely to be convicted on a charge of sodomy in the coming months. Without him, the ties that hold together the disparate parties making up PR — the reformist, multicultural PKR, the conservative, Islamist PAS and the predominantly ethnic-Chinese, left of-centre DAP — are likely to fray,” said the report.
Anwar is currently standing trial for his second sodomy trial.
The PR leader has denied the sodomy charge and described it as “evil, frivolous lies by those in power”.
The former deputy minister was charged with sodomy and corruption in 1998 after he was sacked from the Cabinet and was later convicted and jailed for both offences.
In Election 2008, Anwar led the loose opposition pact of PKR, DAP and PAS to a historic sweep of four more states and 82 federal states, denying BN its customary two-thirds majority in Parliament.
Despite intense speculation that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will call for snap polls by March 2011, the Economist Intelligence Unit report maintained he would likely fix the date for the next general election only after the Sarawak state elections that must be held by July 2011.
“We still believe that Najib will set a general election date after the Sarawak state election. The results of the Sarawak election will provide a good indication of the level of public support for the government and its reform plans,” said the report.
“The results of the two by-elections in November point to a slight shift in non-Malay sentiment in favour of the BN, suggesting that the government’s plans to reform policies that currently favour the Bumiputera has increased its appeal among ethnic minorities,” it added, referring to BN’s victory in the Galas and Batu Sapi by-elections.
Last Friday, Najib unveiled his highly-anticipated New Economic Model 2 report, but analysts believe that it would fail to impress today’s more discerning electorate who are determined to see the PM’s commitment to promoting inclusivity, reform affirmative action to be more efficient and market-friendly and to steer clear away from the culture of patronage and rent-seeking that has been plaguing the economy for decades.
In his promises, Najib has pledged to reform an economy whose investment rates have not recovered from the 1998 Asian financial crisis and where foreign direct investment has fallen off a cliff from the heady days of the early 1990s.
Missing from the report, however, were concrete measures to reform the New Economic Policy (NEP), which affords the country’s majority ethnic Malays preferential quotas including for businesses, although it did pledge to target aid at the poorest 40 per cent of Malaysians regardless of race.
Investors have also complained that abuse of the four-decade-old NEP policy had spawned a patronage-ridden economy and eroded Malaysia’s competitiveness compared to faster reforming neighbours including Indonesia.