Rabu, Mac 07, 2012


Let’s face facts

06 March 2012

The East Malaysians are not concerned about transparency, accountability, good governance, human rights, civil liberties, etc. Those are values and notions of those in West Malaysia, in particular the urbanites. In East Malaysia it is about nationalism and self-rule. And they do not feel by voting PKR or DAP they will achieve that.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Okay, today no Malay-bashing, Islam-bashing, Chinese-bashing or whatever. Let’s put all that aside and look at things from the point of reality.

I must admit, though, it was fun to pin you chaps into a corner to test how you would react. You all sure have a lot more to learn about politics of the poison chalice and the kiss of death, which Umno is extremely good at.

Anyway, never mind, what Ling Liong Sik once told me is probably true after all: “You Malays are better at politics than we Chinese. We Chinese use Kungfu. You Malays use Silat. So it is very difficult to see how the Malay moves. But for we Chinese we know exactly.”

Do you get what Liong Sik meant? When it comes to the Chinese, you know your friends from your enemies because every move is so visible. For Malays it is hard to tell. When a Chinese smiles, you know he is your friend or else he will curse you instead. A Malay can smile and yet be planning your death.

But I am digressing. That is not what I want to talk about today. Today, my question is: can Pakatan Rakyat form the next federal government this May, when the 13th General Election is expected to be called?

First, look at the chart below. The ruling party has been consistently winning 66%-90% of the parliamentary seats since 1959. In fact, 1959 was not the first election to be held although it was the first parliamentary election. The first election was in 1955, the municipal elections, two years before Merdeka, when the Alliance Party won all but one seat.

Now, if you will notice, while the ruling party won 66%-90% of the seats, this was won against a backdrop of only 49.3%-65.2% of the popular votes. In other words, since the beginning, the ruling party has never won more than two-thirds (66.67%) of the votes. Never! The closest it came to a two-thirds win of the votes was in 1995 (65.2%) when it won 84.38% of the seats in parliament.

The worst election for the ruling party was, of course, in 1969 when it won only 49.3% of the votes and only 65.97% of the seats, plus lost a few states as well. Nevertheless, it lost its two-thirds majority in parliament by less than 1%. And the best was in 2004 when it won 90% of the seats but with only 63.9% of the votes, still less than two-thirds of the votes.

The best election for the ruling party was in 2004 in terms of seats. But that was not the best in terms of votes. In fact, 63.9% is less than two-thirds of the popular votes. In 1995, the best year for the ruling party in terms of votes (65.2%), it won only 84.38% of the seats.

So you see, more votes do not translate to more seats, and vice versa. The ruling party could win more votes in one election but lesser seats in parliament, or lesser votes in another election but more seats in parliament. And it can win less than two-thirds of the votes but still win a two-thirds-majority in parliament. Or it can win less than 50% of the votes and still form a government with a simple majority.

In other words, just because more of you come out to vote and more of you vote for the opposition is not going to ensure that the opposition is going to now become the ruling government. More than 50 years of elections over 12 general elections (and one municipal election pre-Merdeka) must have surely taught us that by now.

The bottom is: it all depends on where you vote and whether you all vote in the same place or you are spread out. If all of you reading Malaysia Today are going to be voting in the same areas, meaning of course the urban or Chinese-majority areas, then we are just going to see a repeat of the 13 elections before this. In other words, the opposition is going to win the votes but not the seats.

In the 2008 general election, the 82 parliament seats that the opposition won was split almost 50:50 Malays versus non-Malays MPs. And this was against a backdrop of roughly 90% Indian votes, 70% Chinese votes and 50% Malay votes.

How much more can we squeeze from the Indians and the Chinese? Some analysts say that the Indian votes are going to fall to 50% this time around while the Chinese votes are going to increase slightly to 80%. This would mean that the increase in Chinese votes will be offset by the drop in Indian votes and it would also mean we would be back to square one.

The critical factor, therefore, would be the Malay votes. At only 50% there is still a lot of margin for growth. And since more than 60% of the voters are Malay, the growth in Malay votes can more than offset the decline in Indian votes.

However, will the Malay votes just remain at 50%? Or will it drop to 40%? Or will it increase to 60%? That will determine whether Pakatan Rakyat gets to retain its 82 seats in Parliament (now reduced, of course, due to defections), or whether its seats will drop below 70, or whether its seats will increase beyond 90.

Now, I am talking about Pakatan Rakyat on the basis that it will still be the opposition. Whether it stays at 82, reduces below 70 or increases beyond 90 means Pakatan Rakyat will still be the opposition. What do we need to do to see Pakatan Rakyat form the next federal government?

Well, in West Malaysia, there are 165 seats up for grabs. In the last election, Pakatan Rakyat grabbed 80 parliament seats against Barisan Nasional’s 85. This time around it may be 75:90 if Pakatan Rakyat sees a decline. Or it may remain at 80:85 if Pakatan Rakyat maintains status quo. Or it may be the reverse: 85 seats for Pakatan Rakyat and 80 for Barisan Nasional if the Chinese votes increase to 80% and the Malay votes remain at 50% while the Indian votes drop to also 50%.

Whatever it may be Pakatan Rakyat will still remain the opposition even in the best of scenarios. To be able to form the next federal government, it needs to work on the 57 seats in East Malaysia (31 in Sarawak, 25 in Sabah, plus Labuan).

Now, how fares Pakatan Rakyat in East Malaysia? Not too well, I’m afraid. And in the next article I may go into detail as to why. I am working on that at the moment and the feedback from East Malaysia does not augur well for the opposition.

In 2007, West Malaysians suddenly woke up and the result of this can be seen in the 2008 general election. At that time the East Malaysians were still sleeping. Now, the East Malaysians are beginning to stir from their slumber. They now realise that neither Pakatan Rakyat nor Barisan Nasional can form the federal government without them.

What Daim Zainuddin said in his recent interview is partly true, in that the next election is going to be a hung parliament. But what Daim did not explain is that it will be a hung parliament in West Malaysia and the East Malaysians are going to decide who is going to get to form the federal government.

The choices we are offering the East Malaysians are either a corrupt home-based government or a new Kuala Lumpur-based government. You might argue that Barisan Nasional in Sabah and Sarawak are also part of the federal coalition. That may be true. But the East Malaysian members of the federal coalition are local-based parties, not Kuala Lumpur-based parties.

The alternative to BN Sabah and BN Sarawak would be PKR and DAP (PAS is not even part of the equation in Sabah and Sarawak), both parties based in Kuala Lumpur.

The East Malaysians are not concerned about transparency, accountability, good governance, human rights, civil liberties, etc. Those are values and notions of those in West Malaysia, in particular the urbanites. In East Malaysia it is about nationalism and self-rule. And they do not feel by voting PKR or DAP they will achieve that.

Hence, Barisan Nasional has a slight edge over PKR and DAP. At least PPB, SUPP, SPDP, PRS, UPKO, PBS, SAPP, PBRS, SNAP, STAR, etc., are home-grown parties and not colonialists, pendatang, Semenanjung parties, or whatever, like PKR and DAP.

I have said this before and I will say it again: the key to Putrajaya rests in the hands of Sabah and Sarawak. But whom will the East Malaysians hand the key to?

You can scream about Perkasa? You can argue whether it is the Malays or the Chinese who are to blame for what is happening in Malaysia today. At the end of the day, all that does not matter. What matters is who are the 57 seats from East Malaysia going to back? And whom they back is going to form the next federal government.

Does PKR and DAP understand this? And if they do what are they going to do about it? From what I have been told the East Malaysians are beginning to have ideas about forming a third force. They want to reject Barisan Nasional but that does not mean PKR or DAP are going to be the beneficiary. They are not interested in taking back power from Barisan Nasional just to hand it to PKR or DAP. They want to keep that power for themselves.

Will they succeed? If I can answer that then I am a better Oracle than Daim Zainuddin.

There are only two possible scenarios. If they succeed in building up this third force in East Malaysia (meaning the various factions unite and do not fight with one another), then they could actually sweep about 25 of the 57 seats and leave Barisan Nasional with 25 and DAP/PKR with possibly 7 or so. However, if they start fighting amongst themselves, then Barisan Nasional may sweep about 40 seats and PKR/DAP would be left with 15 or so.

Either way, Pakatan Rakyat will not be able to form the next federal government unless they work out a solution with the East Malaysian third force and engage Barisan Nasional in straight fights in all constituencies. And that would be more difficult to do than to get Rosmah Mansor to stop all her shopping.

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