However, Mahathir would definitely have rejoiced in the Australian Liberal/National coalition’s thumping victory in yesterday’s general election in Australia, for it foreshadows the capability of UMNO and the Barisan Nasional to achieve a remarkable turnaround of their fortunes in the next general elections thanks to Osama bin Laden and the September 11 horror events in New York and Washington.
Until mid-August, Howard's coalition appeared headed for certain defeat.
A nationwide swing of just 0.8 percent would be enough for Kim Beazley’s Labour to topple Howard's coalition and at one time, Australian Labour had a 10 per cent lead over the ruling coalition, which would be translated into a parliamentary majority of 30-40 seats in the general election.
But Howard was able to achieve a dramatic recovery and turnaround, with a majority up from eight to between 10 and 14, thanks to the aftermath of the September 11 events and his hard line on the Afghan boat people which drowned out the key issues which had figured heavily in Australian public debate in recent years, such as reconciliation with Australia's indigenous Aborigines, the move to become a republic and relations with Asia.
Mahathir would see Howard’s turnaround of electoral fortunes as a forerunner of his own political recovery and proof of the far-reaching implications and potency of the September 11 events to change the political landscape not only internationally but in the various countries in the world.
Malaysians, in particular the Opposition parties including the DAP and Barisan Alternative, can only ignore this stark political reality at their own peril.
If the Lunas by-election in Kedah, for instance, is being held later this month, and not on November 29 last year, its outcome would have been very different for the chances are that the Barisan Nasional will win with a thumping majority because of September 11 events, Mahathir’s declaration of Malaysia as an Islamic state and PAS’ jihad call.
Mahathir will be able to fully exploit these factors to the advantage
of UMNO and Barisan Nasional to the detriment of the Opposition and Malaysian
democracy in the next general elections if come polling day, the voters
can be convinced to believe that their votes are important to decide two
critical issues in the country:
Both are false choices but unless the Malaysian voters can see through the falsity of these two questions, then Mahathir and Barisan Nasional are poised for a resounding victory in the next general elections because of the maze of fear, anxiety and confusion among Malaysians in the aftermath of the September 11 events.