Michael Yeoh Oon Kheng, The Sun
THE general election date has been the subject of speculation for almost a year and it is now expected to be held on April 14 or 21. There are three possible outcomes for the election: Scenario 1: The status quo remains; Scenario 2: A reduced majority for the BN; and Scenario 3: BN regains two-thirds majority in Parliament.
There are 222 parliamentary seats in the country, of which, about 150 are Malay/bumiputra seats, 30 mixed and 42 Chinese majority. In the 2008 election, the BN won 140 seats and the Opposition 82 seats. Umno won 79 seats, MCA 15 seats, MIC 3 and Gerakan 2. PKR won 31 seats, DAP 28 and PAS 23.
From our analysis, it is clear that the rural population has largely returned to BN, in particular the rural Malays. Umno is expected to win more seats than in 2008. It is likely that it may win 85 to 90 parliamentary seats. There is also a clear trend that Indian voters in rural and semi-urban areas have shifted back to BN.
However, the urban voters are largely still with the Opposition. Even if more urban Malays were to support Pakatan, it will not increase Pakatan’s seats as these urban seats are already held by DAP.
The urban Chinese support for DAP is strong, and as high as 85% of urban Chinese may vote for it. This will increase DAP’s seats from between 35 and 40, up from the 28 it won in 2008.
The prime minister’s hope is that his outreach programmes to the Chinese community can win over some of the undecided Chinese voters but that is still a difficult challenge. Most Chinese voters seem to have made up their minds. Some older Chinese and the Chinese business community may want to give Najib a chance. They value peace, stability and prosperity.
In a study on the main concerns of the Chinese community organised by ASLI’s Centre for Public Policy Studies, it was determined that the main issues were those of crime and corruption, education, cost of living, fairness and justice, religious issues, lack of civil service participation and lack of meritocracy. These have caused frustrations among the Chinese voters.
However if the Malay and Indian voters swing back to BN is strong, it will help MCA and Gerakan in the mixed seats where Malay voters account for more than 40% of constituents and Indian voters between 10% and 15%.
Many undecided voters will want to see who the candidates are and how the campaign unfolds. A gaffe or a mistake can be costly during the campaign period.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak will campaign from a position of strength. His popularity, personality and hard work can win him a lot of support. Obviously, he is more popular than his party. His proven track record in the transformation programmes and economic performance with the 6.4% GDP growth in the 4th quarter of 2012 puts him and the BN government in good stead.
On the other hand, there is some urban dissatisfaction over abuse of power, human rights violations, crime and corruption.
In Sarawak, Tan Sri Taib Mahmud will deliver 100% of his PBB seats to the BN and hence secure the majority in the state. However, the PRS (Parti Rakyat Sarawak) and SPDP (Sarawak Progressive Democratic Party) may lose a couple of Dayak seats to PKR.
The SUPP will come under strong challenge from the DAP and could lose all its Chinese majority seats – but win back Sibu with a new candidate and retain the Dayak seat of its deputy president, Datuk Richard Riot – hence winning two out of its six parliamentary seats.
In Sabah, Umno should be able to do well, leading the BN to regain control of the state government. DAP will win in several more Chinese-majority seats.
In Peninsular Malaysia, the MCA seats that will see tough fights are Gelang Patah, Kulai and Tanjung Piai in Johor, and Lumut in Perak. These seats are vulnerable. On the other hand, MCA has a good chance of winning back Padang Serai, Gopeng and Selayang should there be a strong Malay and Indian swing back to BN.
In the state contest, Pakatan should retain Kelantan and Penang but will face a strong challenge from BN. In Penang, if the Malay swing is strong, Umno may win 17 Malay seats, and if MCA and Gerakan can win just four more seats, BN will regain Penang with a narrow margin. The fight for Selangor will be the toughest and it is 50:50 for either side.
BN should win Kedah and Perak where the Malay swing back to Umno could help them win back some PKR and PAS seats in Perak – although the DAP will likely hold on to all its Chinese-majority seats in Perak.
According to our final analysis, BN will win the 13th general election. Only the size of the majority remains uncertain. BN is expected to win between 123 and 135 seats. This is the most likely outcome.
However, if the Malay and Indian voters swing back to BN is strong and Najib is able to bring back more undecided Chinese, then BN can win up to 150 seats – which will restore BN’s two-thirds majority. The third scenario is that BN retains about the same number of seats – around 140 – it won in 2008.
Nevertheless what can be certain is that the two big winners in the election will be Umno and the DAP.
What is also important to consider is the shape of the post-GE13 government. Will there be a new political realignment? Will Umno seek a new alliance with PAS for Malay and Muslim unity, and how will this impact the non-Malays and non-Muslims? Will the two big expected winners (Umno and DAP) seek a new political realignment?
Nothing is impossible. After all, there are no permanent friends or permanent enemies in politics. These are the sort of post-election scenarios that need to be considered too.Tan Sri Michael Yeoh Oon Kheng is CEO of ASLI and deputy chairman of the Centre for Public Policy Studies.