Factionalism: Unifier or divider of Selangor?

Location of Sabak Bernam district, Selangor, MALAYSIA

Photo: Wikimedia/CC BY-SA

Human beings are social creatures. They feel the need to organize and band together, which is the basis for community societies, the state and other groupings of human beings. But this drive to be in or part of a group is a source of many political problems in this day and age.

The same holds true for Selangor, one of the 13 states of Malaysia. It is a hereditary constitutional monarchy of the reigning Sultan. Currently in control is Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah. The chief executive is Menteri Besar of the People’s Justice Party (PKR). The current leader of the opposition in the Selangor State Assembly is Dato’ Seri Dr. Mohamed Khir Toyo, who is part of the United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) party within the Barisan Nasional coalition.

Electoral politics or promotions within organizations

Whether in electoral politics or promotions of organizations, players often face the dilemma of whether to enter the contest or to assist other candidates. The analogy is incentives in a rank-order tournament when the winner, apart from earning the “first prize,” also has control over a “second prize” that he can distribute to his supporters. Some players may then be encouraged to help others in exchange for paybacks, resulting in factionalism with leaders, solo contestants and supporters of other candidates sorted by ability. The number and the size of factions depend on the structure of the contest, which can be manipulated to provide optimal incentives for effort coordination as required by political objectives or production technology.

Factional leaders

Factionalism is a fact of life within most political parties. The dominant analytical approach to the study of factionalism as an independent variable has centered on typologies of intraparty groups with different attributes, dimensions and categories based on variables such as stability, organization, function and role, and occasionally group size and number. Factional leaders and others helping to form branches to strengthen their powerbase enliven the politics in Selangor. Alliances are being forged between factions big and small. Endorsed candidates are being selected to the exclusion of others not in their camp, and new and old members are being forced by the new political culture to take sides.

Factionalism and political delineation

The truth about politics is that it is always about factionalism and political delineation. This is a strengthening force that bonds together those with the same ideals, but it can also cause division in governments. The state needs the bond of its people and its leaders, but when taken too far, it could result in disunity. Politics is all about factionalism, but taken to the extreme it could pit a country against its countryman, and the state could be reduced to a collection of factions tearing at the fabric of the nation. Distinctions, if they do not exist to enrich the state, do not help build a better community, and when affiliation to a certain group only results in bloodshed and pointless violence, it is clearly not worth it. Access to money through installment loans or personal loans could have helped to build a better community.



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