Thursday, September 21, 2006

What Are The Chances Of A Coup In Malaysia?

The very idea of a coup being organised, orchestrated and succeeding in Malaysia seems as far-fetched as one taking place in the United States. When a country has all the organs and processes of democracy in place and the government in power proves to be a workable and functional entity, theoretically there should be no room for any extra-constitutional move like a coup.

However even the most resilient democracy will necessarily have to take precautions to see that the untoward doesn't happen. The main ingredients that make a country ripe for a coup are several. Among the foremost is the general unhappiness and sometimes downright public hostility towards the ruling elite. This could be due to the incompetency of the leadership, perceived widespread corruption by those in power, financial hardship experienced by a majority of the people, compromised public safety and breakdown of law and order, perception of great injustice being done to a majority of the citizenry by an uncaring government and generally a feeling of hopelessness and despondency. How much of the above conditions are prevalent in Malaysia is an interesting and thought provoking question.

Another very crucial requirement for a coup to succeed is the role that the Armed Forces play in the daily running of the country. In nations where the military is confined to barracks and the generals are put in their place by a confident and strong civilian leadership, the chances of a coup emerging is slim. However if the army is often called out for mainly civilian security duties with the intention of safeguarding or propping up the civilian government, then things can get real dicey. The emergence of a powerful, recognisable and vocal military leader is a dangerous thing and many governments appreciating this, rotate, shuffle, promote and retire senior officers regularly to avoid the rise of even one prominent military figure.

Yet another 'prerequisite' for a coup is the involvement of military offficers in politics either as active politicians in uniform, through military-backed political parties or as coalition partners of civilian parties. The moment some form of political power is either given or acknowledged as rightfully belonging to the armed forces, the country is on the road to a coup at some future date. In this sense Malaysia is in a happy position. The political and military leadership both know their constitutional place in the national scheme of things and the importance of maintaining civilian control and supremacy.

As you have seen, elements of the unhappiness with political elites, increasing hardship of the people and questions about corrupt and incompetent leaders does exist in Malaysia. Is that enough to start worrying about a coup at some later time? What are the chances of a military intervention taking place in Malaysia? Any opinion, people?


Anonymous Anonymous said...

NewsObserver says :

With the political mechanisim established few decades ago, the rule and divide policies practices worked very well with the current BN administration. The word "Coup" cannot and will not exist in Malaysia as the population of races is so divided among themselves. Look at how many rulers in our Malaysian states. We cannot make comparison with Thailand as all their citizens are loyal to the King. Their citizens adore their king more that their elected PM.

So, who is our king? You mean our current Royalty who rotate their duties every 5 years?

Here in Malaysia, the PM rules the army and not the King. The King in this land is just a puppet.

That's is why I am very firm that a coup will never happened in Malaysia even her citizens are not happy but to live with it throughout their life.

1:28 PM GMT+8  
Blogger toniXe said...

its possible in the aftermath of another May 13 type of incident recurring, otherwise quite unlikely.

1:43 PM GMT+8  
Blogger walski69 said...

It is thought provoking, and I attempted to write something about it. However, like NewsObserver, I don't think we have the right "ingredients" for a military coup to ever happen in this country. Our military, for example, is subservient to the Government - it would be more realistic to consider the police force pulling something off, truth be told (but even then, the prevailing "loyalties" don't make a police-led coup any more likely).

The only other place in SE Asia that a military coup could ever happen (Myanmar aside) would probably be Indonesia - but even then, their military leadership of late has not been active participants in that country's politics (at least I don't think so).

What could conceivably happen in Malaysia, IMHO are two things:
1. A political coup, via the electorial process
2. Ethnic civil strife (God forbid!!)

Let's not even discuss #2. ;-)

But even for #1 to happen there has to be a solid, viable alternative front to challenge the incumbent BN machinery, which is something I'm afraid we don't really have today either. I won't elaborate, because it would go way off-topic.

So, to answer your original question - No, the likelihood of a military coup in Malaysia is, for all practical purposes, NIL.

2:03 PM GMT+8  
Blogger The Malaysian. said...

Thanks anonymous NewsObserver, tonixe and walski69 for your valuable input. Appreciate it.

2:20 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

If there was a military coup in Malaysia, we bid good bye to even the semblance of race equality in this country. The military rulers (who are Malays), and who do not owe their position to the rakyat, would not be concerned about popularity or PR. The Malays would be even more arrogant and intolerant.

9:34 PM GMT+8  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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2:57 AM GMT+8  

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