The Barisan Nasional (BN), the ruling regime controlling Malaysia as the federal government, lost several state government to the opposition during the elections in 2008 and again in 2013. One of the economically well-off state lost to the opposition was Penang. It is the 2nd most developed state after Selangor state.
It seems clear to leaders from the BN ruling regime, dominated Umno (United Malay National Organisation), that they do not stand a chance of wrestling Penang from the opposition, Pakatan Harapan, in a clean and fair election. Consequently, an Umno minister, Tengku Adnan, mooted the idea that Penang should be made part of the federal territories (FT) under the purview of the BN controlled federal government. Although he went on to suggest that Langkawi and certain parts of Malacca should also be made part of the FT, he was obviously eyeing the jewel of the crown, Penang.
Tengku Adnan, as the appointed but not elected minister of FT, is known to have substantially benefited from approving many property development projects in Kuala Lumpur, which is the main and original federal territory. The property market in Kuala Lumpur is entering a supply glut, and it's all thanks to him. It is unsurprising that he wants to benefit from the rapid development in Penang too.
From the perspective of democracy, it is disturbing that a senior leader from the BN ruling regime, which has failed to win over the heart of Penangites, is trying to re-capture Penang through the backdoor by the use of federal regulations and gerrymandering. These 'soft' tactics are likely to be exhausted before the power and money hungry leaders from the federal regime move on to the 'hard' tactics of deploying military force by the use of cannons, tanks and fighter jets. It would certainly be a short-lived civil war as Penang state does not have any armed forces. Once Penang has fallen, Selangor state will be the next target. It will only be days before all the states in Malaysia are federalized.
While it may seem unthinkable for now that this BN federal government will declare civil war and take control of all the states against the wish of Malay Rulers of each state and the people, it is not something that the people should totally rule out. The prime minister of Malaysia, Najib Razak, has managed to secure the passing of his National Security Council Act 2016 by the parliament. This new Act effectively gives him unchecked and far-reaching powers to take control of the country. Let's not forget that Najib has very strong influence over the Malaysian military. He was the defense minister and cultivated his control over the armed forces for many years.
The people of Malaysia must cautiously guard against any further abuse of power the BN regime. Malaysians have to rise to the occasion. Make your vote counts before it is too late. As long as BN is in power, democracy will remain as a talk and not as a practice in this country.