If there is a ruling party in desperate straits in this part of the world, it is Malaysia's Barisan Nasional. They have trapped themselves in an economic and political morass from which there is no escape.
Years of incompetence and mismanagement of the economy, of natural resources and of human capital are now converging into a tightening straitjacket, which wriggle as they might, there is no way to get out of.
Prices of goods, essential items and transportation are in a never-ending upward spiral, and the people are increasingly affected, and ever more discontented. Experience shows that the economy, more than anything else, will affect votes.
So strained is the government's financial circumstances, that they are talking of cutting subsidies (a sure vote-loser), during this already difficult time for Malaysians. They have no choice, their back is against the wall.
The BN has now taken to playing the race card to try and save themselves. It is unlikely to work. Malaysians are a far more discerning lot these days. They will see right through the BN's ploy. And there is now a proven alternate in the opposition Pakatan Rakyat.
It is a desperate coalition that holds the reins of power in Malaysia these days.