Date: Tue, 19 May 2009 10:20:26 -0700 (PDT)
Local: Wed, May 20 2009 1:20 am
Subject: Re: Najib is the people's PM? My foot!
On May 20, 1:13 am, Politikus
> Najib still losing ground? ;-p
You do not need to be very brilliant to read that Najib is suffering
from paralysis... ;-p
Najib has got himself into a Catch-22 scenario
Christopher Choong | May 19, 09 4:46pm
In game theory, a hawk-dove game is often used to model distributive
conflicts, in which an impasse cannot be solved by a central authority
due to the existence of multiple equilibria.
The solution, and the speed of this solution, depends on resource
asymmetry and the holding power of the contestants. The more equal the
distribution of power, the longer the impasse becomes and the longer
the contestants have to put up with a sub-optimal outcome.
This game bears stark resemblance to the current political tussle in
Perak. The state itself being the bone of contention further
aggravates the problem, where there is no central authority to alter
the payoffs structure and strategies of the contestants.
Institutions that could have provided relief eg, the judiciary and the
police are seen as partial the higher they go up, thus removing
whatever credibility that is left of these authorities.
So it seems that the only way out of the crisis depends on whether BN
or Pakatan Rakyat has the stronger holding power. Perhaps, this has
always been the way for BN to resolve conflicts. After all, with so
many resources on its side - financial, police, judges, media and
machinery, is there really a need to appeal to principles here?
Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak could comfortably make the rhetoric
of adhering to the due process of law simply because the laws and
institutions have been fashioned over the years to favour his regime.
It is a mistake in game theory to assume that the power to contest can
be framed by a restrictive instrumental rationality of cost-benefit
calculations. This is because the willingness to contest is based on a
host of other factors (besides ‘rational choice') chief amongst which
are ideological, organisational and one's notion of justice.
Such is the mistake Najib cannot afford to make in this hawk-dove
game. It is uncertain to many Malaysians how much Najib and his
compadres have truly grasped the tectonic shifts not only in the
psychological mindset of Malaysians, but also the distribution of
power in Malaysia's political scene since March 8 last year.
The ‘Mahathir's Malaysia' Najib has grown so familiar with, a
conception of a nation-state dominated by the personality of a single
person, is hardly conceivable in today's Malaysia especially with a
growing urban, educated middle-class all wanting a stake in the
determination of what Malaysia ought to be.
The blatant injustices and institutional violations that leaked out
from the fetters of traditional censorship through the advent of
information technology provoked a rising sense of discontent among
Bailouts of crony companies which are not genuinely productive and
whose wealth did not trickle-down to the wider public caused the
poorer Malaysians to realise that this growing pie was not equitably
Malaysians are organising themselves around broader and more
ideological goals, a momentum that was triggered since the ‘reformasi'
movement of 1998/99. Where development has always been conceived as
economic growth in the country, we now see a desire to incorporate
other developmental dimensions such as political rights and social
The emergence of these ideologies has exorcised the May 13 ghost which
has been used for 40 years to legitimise the divide-and-rule policies
of the BN hegemony. Such was the sentiment in a recently concluded
‘May 13 to 1Malaysia' forum.
In holding on to this battle in Perak, Najib has better realise that
the distribution of power is not as asymmetrical as it once was in
Mahathir's era and the willingness to contest is motivated not merely
by material cost-benefit calculations (although the three ‘frogs' in
Perak proved otherwise) but also by a strong notion of justice and
One can only hope, albeit not too optimistically, that his willingness
to talk to PR leaders is an indication that he does have his fingers
on the pulse of the nation and conscious of the repercussions to his
party come next general elections if this impasse drags on.
Yet, it is unclear at this point if there are any actual, feasible
solution on the cards even if the talks materialise. A hawk-dove game,
by its very nature, implies that there will be losers in any one
solution. Najib's ‘konchos' in Perak who are hoping to benefit from
controlling state resources will definitely put up resistance against
the possibility of a shrinking pie for their faction.
Moreover, there is much personal disutility on Najib's own part to
concede defeat given the fact that this takeover is perceived to be
his handiwork to usher in his new premiership.
So it seems that Najib has got himself into a Catch-22 scenario. He
has to find a balance between the options of short-term losses by
crossing his own ‘konhcos' and long-term losses in the next general
election by crossing the rakyat.
It will be disastrous for him to underestimate the holding power of
Pakatan in resolving the current impasse.
While he ponders on his next move, with the Mahathir and Pak Lah camps
playing a different tune in the background, the hawk-dove game tells
us that it is the Silver State citizens who will continue to suffer
from the present sub-optimal, disequilibrium outcome.