Race card won’t add Umno’s Malay votes, analysts say

By Adib Zalkapli, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 12 — The attacks against Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s administration for allegedly discriminating against Malay traders would not work in favour of Umno to harvest more Malay votes, said analysts.

The Umno-owned Utusan Malaysia last week rapped the Penang government with banner headlines “Malays still oppressed”, highlighting claims that the state was preventing Malay traders from setting up Ramadan stalls.

It continued the diatribe yesterday, calling on Malay rights groups in the state to hold weekly demonstrations at the state secretariat, emulating the practice of federal opposition leaders in Kuala Lumpur.

UKM’s Professor Agus Yusoff(pic), however, warned that the party should focus on winning the support of the non-Malays that it lost in Election 2008.

“Penang is a non-Malay-majority state. If Umno wants to hold weekly demonstrations, for example, it will backfire,” Agus told The Malaysian Insider.

He said most Malay voters are loyal supporters of either Umno or the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) parties.

“The Malays have made up their mind who to vote for. They are very compartmentalised. There will be no significant swing to the other side. The real issue for BN is to win back the support of the non-Malays,” said the political analyst.

“But looking at the current development it is still very hard for BN to get back their support,” he added.

“They have to find ways to get their support, fanning racial sentiments would not help,” he said.

His colleague, Professor Samsul Adabi Mamat, however, said the campaign on Malay political survival was necessary to inform members of the community who are not aware of the adverse impact of losing political power.

“The Malays’ fear of losing political power started soon after Election 2008 and it continues until today, especially in states where DAP has strong influence over the government. But of course it is not felt by the Malays in PAS because they are comfortable with Pakatan Rakyat,” said Samsul Adabi.

“There is a strong basis for this concern as the Bumiputeras only form about 56 per cent of the population. A split in the community because of Umno-PAS would affect the Malays,” said the political scientist.

He said even if the issues raised do not help Umno secure more Malay votes, it would at least make PAS leaders realise their duties.

“Raising this issue would at least enlighten the Malays who are in their comfort zone, when PAS leaders share the same concern they would act accordingly as an assemblyman or an MP,” said Samsul Adabi.

“The proposal for a unity government, for example, reflects such a concern,” he said.

“It may not necessarily translate into votes, but it should at least enlighten the community, that is more important,” he added.

Penang PAS, however, has refused to be dragged into the issue, arguing that it would not affect the party.