The Fake Third Force



Recently in the last 10 years, Penang has seen an influx of new political parties filled with interesting personalities flooding the political landscape. All of them seem to claim that they are there to “strengthen democracy” but they all seem to be united in one cause, to criticise the Pakatan Harapan Penang State Government while completely ignoring the seemingly “immaculate” Barisan Nasional who last I checked, are still in power on the federal level.

These seemingly “independent” political parties along with some disgruntled former members of PH parties claim that they do not represent nor side with either BN or PH and want to be the “third force” in the Malaysian political arena. They claim to be the true voices of the Penang people and will give Penangites an additional option in the coming elections. Strange as prior to 2008, there seemed to be no interest in these groups to form their so called “third force” and only seem to pop out only within the last five years.

Many of them are now proceeding to go all out to either promote a vote for the “third force” or a “spoiled vote”. What many do not actually know, is that they are merely promoting the chances for the BN to recapture Penang in the coming elections. Now I know, many of you reading this would probably think that I am writing this as a DAP member but let us explore this concept of the “third force” first in the Malaysian context.

I am first and foremost, a believer in democracy. It was because of my faith in democracy that I chose to become politically active. Many countries around the world have vibrant democracies with multiple parties contesting for power and the direction of the country. Some like the United States of America have a strong two party system which presents two candidates that have almost equal chances of being elected President. Some like the United Kingdom have moved on beyond the two party system with multiple new parties gaining ground and forcing established parties like the Conservative Party and the Labour Party to often have to form coalition governments with smaller parties in order to have a majority in Parliament.

Malaysia on the other hand, has seen the complete domination of one party in the last 61 years. Some argue that the BN is not one party but a coalition of multiple parties each representing their own interests for a balanced system. This is however inaccurate as each BN party does not have an equal say as the other. It can be argued that in the BN, while their “dacing” symbol claims that their parties are equal, after 61 years, it can be seen that one party is “more equal than others”. Yup, 73 years after it was first published, George Orwell’s Animal Farm book’s political allegories are still very much relevant today especially in Malaysia.

Anyway, back to my point. The ruling BN has been in federal power for so long that they have comfortably entrenched themselves in every vein and artery of government body giving them absolute unchecked power. This has also led to the BN being able to completely centralise power into the federal government by slowly stripping away power from state governments that were ruled by their own members. This has effectively made Malaysia a unitary state while maintaining the facade of a federation in name only. Real federations are countries that usually strong elected State Governments that control most of the administration and law makings of those individual states while having a weaker federal governments to control matters like joint security, foreign relations and defence.

Unitary States are countries that have strong central governments while having weak to almost non-existent state or provincial governments. Last I checked, Malaysia was a federation as we are officially known as the Federation of Malaysia but in practice, unchecked 61 years of one party rule has led to the complete amalgamation of party and government.

Malaysia is still a federally dominated country and has not achieved the two party system that we all want. Yet, these so called independent groups are calling for a “third force” already. With the “first past the post system” election system based on party symbols that the country has practiced since independence, voting this so called “third force” can only achieve one thing, the complete electoral victory of the BN in the coming elections. The reason is rather simple; Malaysia is too used to voting either for or against the BN. Hence the votes are either for or against establishment without regards to the different political parties out there. Add that to the earlier fact that the BN is in complete control of the government’s machinery and use it to their full advantage, it is easy to say that the path to victory for the PH is indeed an uphill battle.

So when the votes that are against the establishment are split between different rival political parties, the victory will be handed to the BN automatically as their establishment votes will be able to have a majority over the split anti-establishment votes. The BN knows this and hence encourages financially, the establishment of as many political parties and individual personalities to contest to coming elections in an attempt to confuse and split the voters. The BN does not care if they truly have the mandate of the people to govern, it is a “win at all cost” to recapture Penang. BN and in particular Gerakan and MCA knows that they have to impress their UMNO bosses as much as possible or they will lose all their privileged perks. UMNO themselves want to destroy any possible formation of a two party system or their entire gravy train will be permanently derailed.

So let us really ponder upon the realities. A vote for the so called “third force”, abstaining from voting or spoiling your vote will only achieve one thing, the return of the BN with a supermajority and the permanent elimination of a possible two party system. We have to stay the course and establish that two party system first before talking about a possible multiparty system. The so-called third, fourth, fifth, sixth or whatever forces that are present today are just BN supported parties and individuals that the BN is using to ensure their continuous rule and the end to all possible future threats to them.

Chris Lee Chun Kit is a City Councillor at the City Council of Penang Island (MBPP) representing the DAP

Stop Politicising a Natural Disaster!

More than 10 days has passed since that fateful night in which a tropical cyclone named “Invest 95W” wreaked havoc on the State of Penang in Malaysia. Yet it seems the rumours about the return of the storm and the political accusations have not stopped. Many are still continuously blaming the state authorities for the floods despite the record rainfall that fell on Penang (315mm) which was the highest ever in Penang’s history. Worse, many politicians on the other side of the political divide as well as their friendly partners are taking advantage of the disaster to score political points, hoping to bluff their ways into Penangites putting all their blame on the state government.

It is fine to criticise any democratically elected government, after all if we all strive to make Malaysia a healthy democracy, we must always ensure that elected governments are not above criticisms. Criticisms must always be present in order to ensure our governments are accountable to their electorate but one thing I do try to emphasise is that criticisms must be based on scientific fact and not merely on emotional perceptions. Using emotional perceptions to criticise is no longer healthy in a democracy but borders on Trump-like political maneuvering. Some criticisms attempt to shift the attention of the tragedy away from the natural disaster and claim that Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng is merely saying it without any substantial evidence ( even going as far as saying the CM’s claims were ludicrous and deeply asinine.


If indeed what the Chief Minister had said was ludicrous and deeply asinine, then I guess the Joint Typhoon Warning Center (JTWC) based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii was lying as the scientific data and even the graphic of the storm’s path was taken from them. Do not ask me why the Americans seem to understand our own local storms better than our own Malaysian Meteorological Department that completely failed to warn us that a full blown tropical cyclone was on its way to Penang. The fact that the storm did a “U-turn” over Penang as seen in the graphic by the JTWC and got more powerful as tropical cyclones are fueled by warm seas should be enough to convince a person that this was no ordinary storm.

Do the BN politicians and like-minded commentators who are so quick to blame the state government through emotional perceptions even know what a tropical cyclone is? Tropical cyclones are storms that are formed in the warm seas in the tropical parts of the world. Water vapour is their fuel and they begin their destructive lives as a tropical disturbance, as their winds get stronger while being fueled by the warm seas, they strengthen into a tropical depression before strengthening further into a tropical storm. Once they become a tropical storm, they are given a human name and are extremely destructive and deadly. The final form of a tropical cyclone are called typhoons or hurricanes depending on which part of the world they occur. They are called typhoons or hurricanes when they reach the wind speeds of 118 KM/h and an “eye” forms in the centre of the storm. Whatever I have just mentioned is not emotional perception but scientific fact.

The storm that hit Penang was a tropical disturbance which is the first stage of tropical cyclones but a tropical cyclone nonetheless. Some may claim that typhoons do not occur in Malaysia but in 2001, Typhoon Vamei rampaged across the State of Johor resulting in floodings and landslides that killed 5 Malaysians. Even though Typhoon Vamei was an even more powerful storm, the system moved across Johor and Sumatra quickly and dissipated in the Indian Ocean.  95W stayed almost stationary over Penang due to the sudden available fuel of the warm seas around Penang Island and did not merely pass over the state. Instead the odd storm made an extremely slow turnaround and headed back into Peninsula Malaysia resulting in floods in the neighbouring states before weakening due to the lack of water vapour inland. 95W then dissipated over the Gulf of Thailand but the residue was absorbed into another storm that was even more powerful called 29W which was a full fledged tropical depression, The storm travelled across Central Thailand and Southern Myanmar before dissipating in the Indian Ocean.


The storm that hit Penang on the night of the fourth of November, 2017 had resulted in landslides occuring in many places that had no development at all, Rather the amount of water that came down upon Penang was just too much for our beloved state to withstand. Trees were felled by the powerful winds blocking traffic and destroying homes together with the 315mm rainfall that resulted in floods occuring in many places for the first time ever should be enough evidence to convince everyone that what happened that night was a full blown natural disaster that needed help not finger pointings. Facts are facts, do not spin facts for political mileage.

Yes Malaysia as a whole is ill-equipped to face tropical cyclones as we have been relatively safe from natural disasters for a very long time. Our infrastructural guidelines need updating and we need to work on this as a country. The commentators who were quick to blame development as the cause of the floods in Penang despite Penang having an even more stricter development guideline than what the federal government permits seem to ignore that flood mitigation funds that have been promised to Penang by the federal government have yet to be completely fulfilled. However, their venom seems to be concentrated on the Penang State Government coincidentally when the 14th General Elections are approaching.

Even countries like the United States and the Philippines who often face full blown hurricanes and typhoons are still struggling to manage their destructive power. In times of tragedy, it is important that we put politics aside and come to the aid of those who were affected by it. I myself have been on the ground since the disaster occurred and having very little sleep but the welfare of those who are in need of help must be taken care of. It can be very demoralising for those who are working tirelessly on the ground when the whole situation is politicised by opportunists who were hardly around except to do press conferences to score political mileage. Penangites however, have stepped up to show that they can climb back up from this disaster, Together with friends throughout Malaysia who generously contributed money, aid, machinery and manpower, we have shown that the spirit of brotherhood is alive and well during times of need. These are the true heroes who took on the power of the tropical cyclone head on.

So yes, criticisms are always welcomed, but be factual and do not practice double standards. Scientific facts are out there for all who are interested to invest their time to learn. Understand the situation then criticise shortcomings. To merely place blame on governments based on emotional perceptions in order to influence the electorate during times of disaster is not criticism but politics. Keep politics out of natural disasters!

Chris Lee Chun Kit is a City Councillor at the City Council of Penang Island (MBPP) representing the DAP