As the Chief Minister of one of Malaysia's poorest states, one might have expected Mr.Taib Mahmud to be a little more careful about flaunting his wealth. But no, Mr.Taib must go to vote in a silver Rolls-Royce.He enjoys absolute power in Sarawak, and is unconcerned with appearances. Or, for that matter, public opinion.
Mr.Taib has won another term as Chief Minister, of the exploited state of Sarawak. He will face more elected opposition members in this term, than he has ever dealt with before. But he still wields a two thirds majority, which allows him to amend the State's Constitution, as he pleases.
If the elections had not been marred by fraud, Mr.Taib would not still have his 2/3rds. And may even have lost. Tellingly, Mr.Taib had barred all independent observers from entering Sarawak, including the former head of Malaysia's Bar Council, Ms.Ambiga Sreenivasan.
In Senadin, a thousand postal votes miraculously turned up to save the BN candidate. Their candidate still only won by 58 votes! The results are being disputed as we write, but the Election Commission official, of course, refuses to allow a recount.
In Bakun, BN won by 227 votes the last time. This time their margin of victory was close to three thousand! A remarkable turn-around in voter sentiment, indeed. It is, of course, preposterous! They may have overdone it. Rigging votes, is clearly a tricky business. Rig too little and you might lose. Rig too much, and you may get, a Bakun!
Based on their "success", we expect Malaysia's ruling party, the BN, to call for the General Elections soon. They will have a much harder time, in Malaysia's West. Mr.Taib's odious formula for winning elections, combining the ingredients of fraud, rampant vote-buying, and intimidation, will not work so well there.