Like a trapped animal (part 4)


To Pakatan Rakyat, this may just be about winning or losing an election. To Umno, it is about the life and death of Barisan Nasional. Pakatan Rakyat can lose the election and still continue to exist as an opposition grouping. Barisan Nasional cannot lose the election and continue to exist as an opposition coalition. Barisan Nasional would be hit with a double whammy. Death will follow its defeat, a danger that Pakatan Rakyat does not face.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

Record number of new voters to impact upcoming elections

(The Star) – A record number of first-time voters will have a huge impact on the outcome of the 13th general election.

With new voters now making up one in five of the country’s 13.1 million voters or about 22% (2.9 million) of the electorate, both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat are expected to focus on wooing them over in their campaign strategies.

A total of 2,920,828 Malaysians have registered as voters between 2008 and June 30 this year.

“This is the highest figure so far. Over the last four years, we have been going all out to reduce the number of unregistered Malaysian voters,” Election Commission deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said in an interview.

He said the 2.9 million first-time voters were almost equally divided between those aged below 39 and those 40 and above.

“It can’t be denied that new voters will have a major influence on the outcome of the next general election but whether they are youths or senior citizens, each vote will count,” Wan Ahmad said.

A total of 155,420 Malaysians signed up as voters in 2008. The numbers have progressively increased with 279,270 in 2009, 826,462 in 2010 and 1,221,635 last year. An additional 438,041 people registered as voters between Jan 1 and June 30 this year.


Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak will not want to call for the 13th General Election independent of the state elections, in particular the four Pakatan Rakyat-led states. Umno would like to dilute the opposition election machinery and one way would be to hold simultaneous federal and state elections involving all the states — save Sarawak, which already held its state election in April last year.

When nationwide elections are held at both federal and state levels, everyone would focus on defending their own fort, or attacking their opponent’s fort in their own constituency. Very few, other than key federal leaders, would have the time to criss-cross the country to help campaign in other constituencies. As the Malays would say: jaga kawasan sendiri.

I remember back in 2004 when I was heading the election campaign for the then PKR Deputy President, Abdul Rahman Othman. Haji Rahman was contesting against the Member of Parliament for Putrajaya, Tunku Adnan Tunku Mansor. We were heavily outgunned and even the police were giving us a hard time.

Haji Rahman’s son was beaten up as he distributed pamphlets and I was surrounded by two carloads of Umno ‘bouncers’.  I had to pull out a knife to keep the Umno toughies at bay. They phoned for the police, who arrived almost immediately. When we made a police report regarding Haji Rahman’s son’s beating they ignored us. Hence it was clear that the police were part of the Umno campaign. And that was not the first time, mind you. That happened also in the election before that in 1999.

I sent out SOS messages calling for reinforcements. No one came to our aid. Everyone was busy fighting losing battles in their own constituencies. And boy, did we get whacked good and proper in 2004? That was the worse performance ever for the opposition.

Anyway, the point is, in a nationwide election campaign, Barisan Nasional has a more formidable army compared to Pakatan Rakyat. Pakatan Rakyat is an expert at guerrilla warfare. In conventional warfare where firepower is crucial, Pakatan Rakyat will lose out. And that would be how Najib hopes to retain power.

The weapon Umno will use, of course, will be race and religion. This has worked for 66 years since 1946, meaning five generations. So why can’t it continue to work? And, as they say, why fix something that is not broken?

By the way, I say five generation because 1946 was during my grandfather’s time and I am now a grandfather myself. So that makes five generations.

Umno has accepted the fact that it has lost the Chinese support. It is confident that it can win back some Indian support, though. Nevertheless, MCA, MIC, Gerakan and PPP are doomed and we may see, in the end, Barisan Nasional in Peninsular Malaysia being just Umno with maybe ten or less seats for MCA. But that would be about it.

Hence, for Barisan Nasional to continue to exist, Umno will have to depend on the non-Umno partners from East Malaysia. If Barisan Nasional fails in East Malaysia and Sabah and Sarawak fall to Pakatan Rakyat, then Barisan Nasional will be reduced to just Umno. For all intents and purposes, Barisan Nasional will cease to exist other than in name only.

Hence, also, Umno cannot afford to lose Sabah and Sarawak. First, that would mean Pakatan Rakyat would be able to form the federal government. Secondly, it would mean Barisan Nasional might as well disband and Umno continue as a ‘solo’ party. So there is so much at stake here, not only the federal government, but also the legitimacy of Barisan Nasional to continue to exist.

To Pakatan Rakyat, this may just be about winning or losing an election. To Umno, it is about the life and death of Barisan Nasional. Pakatan Rakyat can lose the election and still continue to exist as an opposition grouping. Barisan Nasional cannot lose the election and continue to exist as an opposition coalition. Barisan Nasional would be hit with a double whammy. Death will follow its defeat, a danger that Pakatan Rakyat does not face.

Hence we are talking about two very different ‘value systems’ here.

Allow me to use the following analogy. When a fox chases a hare, the hare will have to be faster and cleverer. The hare will feel more desperate than the fox. The fox is just running for its dinner. If it fails to catch the hare it just misses its dinner, that’s all. The hare, however, is running for its life. If it fails to escape it loses its life.

So which is more crucial, your dinner or your life? And who do you think will fight harder, he who is about to lose his dinner or he who is about to lose his life?

Malaysia now has about 13 million voters, about three million of them newly registered since March 2008. I expect about 9.5 million to 10 million of these registered voters to come out to vote in the coming general election. That would be roughly 1.5-2 million more voters than in March 2008.

Let us assume that a few more Chinese voters swing to Pakatan Rakyat compared to March 2008. So the number of Chinese voters who vote opposition increases slightly. Najib is hoping that the Indian voters who swing back to Barisan Nasional can offset this increase in Chinese voters for Pakatan Rakyat. In other words, the Indian votes will cancel off the Chinese votes — so you are back to square one.

If this happens, as what Najib thinks and hopes will happen, it would then all depend on the Malay voters for Barisan Nasional to retain power. And for this to happen race and religion would become a very crucial weapon.

Malays are actually more parochial and regionalistic than racial. For example it would be very difficult for a Malay (meaning Muslim as well) from Kemaman, Terengganu, to contest and win in Besut, also in Terengganu. Never mind he is a fellow Malay-Muslim from Terengganu. As far as the Besut people are concerned, he is not from Besut but from Kemaman.

Hence the Malays are worse than the Chinese in that sense. People like Lim Kit Siang or Lim Guan Eng can contest in Penang, Selangor, Perak, Melaka, Johor, or wherever, and still win. Never mind where Kit Siang or Guan Eng were born. They can even become Chief Minister of Penang or Melaka and that would not be a problem with the Chinese.

The Malays cannot accept that. Can a Penang Malay become the Menteri Besar of Kelantan or a Kelantan Malay become the Menteri Besar of Johor? No way Jose! That would be unthinkable.

So it is not just about whether the person must be Malay, Chinese or Indian. Even if he is Malay, the question is: a Malay from which state? And for some states, say like Terengganu, being a Malay from Terengganu is not enough. Which part of Terengganu also matters. Kemaman is Kemaman and Besut is Besut, both in Terengganu but different parts of Terengganu.

You might say that race and religion no longer matters. You might say that Malaysians, especially those ‘new’ three million voters who registered to vote since 2008, have put race and region behind them. If you say this then you are most likely Chinese and are thinking like a Chinese.

Let us put that theory to a test. The Malaysian Constitution does not stipulate the race, religion and gender of the Prime Minister. Can the Chinese and Indians accept Nurul Izzah Anwar as the Prime Minister? Most likely they can — say given a few more years experience as a Member of Parliament and by the time she is, say, 50 or so. But since she is a woman the Malays would find it difficult to accept her as the Prime Minister even though according to the Constitution that is perfectly legal.

What about Lim Guan Eng as the Prime Minister? The Chinese will be delighted. The Malays, however, will be appalled. And let Pakatan Rakyat try to announce that if they win the next general election Anwar Ibrahim is going to be Prime Minister and if they win again in 2018 Lim Guan Eng will take over as Prime Minister.

That would be the end of Pakatan Rakyat. Pakatan Rakyat would be dead meat. Even the army and police would take to the streets to engage Malaysia in a civil war.

Note, though, that not only the Malays are like this. Say Pakatan Rakyat announces that if they can retain Penang in the coming general election a Malay is going to take over as the Chief Minister of Penang. Barisan Nasional then announces that if they win Penang they will make sure that a Chinese from either MCA or Gerakan (depending on who wins the most number of seats) will become the Chief Minister.

I say that Barisan Nasional will take back Penang hands down.

I remember back when Anwar Ibrahim was in the government and his political secretary, Dr Ibrahim Saad, for the first time contested a state seat in Penang and won. He then lobbied to become the new Chief Minister and Anwar scolded him and said he was crazy. If we appoint a Malay Chief Minister the Chinese will punish us and Penang is going to fall to DAP. Even if Gerakan wins just one seat and MCA gets nothing, we will still have to appoint a Chinese Chief Minister, said Anwar.

To pacify him, Ibrahim Saad was appointed the Deputy Chief Minister.

So there you have it. Do you think this is only a Malay ‘problem’? Even if Umno sweeps most of the seats and Gerakan and MCA combined win less seats than Umno, the Chief Minister must still be Chinese.

Okay, let’s do another experiment. Pakatan Rakyat announces that not only will a Malay take over as the Penang Chief Minister, but a non-Muslim Chinese will take over from Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat as the Menteri Besar of Kelantan. Do you think Pakatan Rakyat can retain Penang and Kelantan?

Okay, forget about appointing a non-Muslim Chinese as the Menteri Besar of Kelantan. Appoint a Muslim but a Muslim from Sabah as the Menteri Besar of Kelantan. Announce that before the election and let’s see if PAS can retain Kelantan.

So Malaysians are not really as liberal as they pretend to be, even the so-called liberals reading Malaysia Today. We are all still very racial and parochial. And that will decide how the people are going to vote. And anyone who says otherwise is in denial mode. They are just lying to themselves. And until the Chinese in Penang can agree to a Malay Chief Minister then the Chinese are just as bad as the Malays but are masquerading as liberals.

And do you think DAP can do it alone without the Malays? DAP needs the Malays. Without the Malays DAP is as dead as MCA, MIC, Gerakan and PPP. I have read many comments posted in Malaysia Today by readers who say that the Chinese do not need the Malays. In fact, I have deleted scores of such comments because they only serve to rub the Malays the wrong way and does not help Pakatan Rakyat’s cause one bit.

Do you really believe this? Well, look at the table below and tell me whether you still think so. See what happened over the last ten general elections. If DAP depends just on the Chinese voters, at best it can win only 20-25 Parliament seats. That means only 10% or so of the number of seats in Parliament. Who then, contributes the balance 90%?

Something to think about, no?


Parliament seats won by DAP

1969: 13 out of 49 (total popular votes garnered by the opposition: 50.7%)

1974: 9 out of 19 (total popular votes garnered by the opposition: 39.3%)

1978: 16 out of 24 (total popular votes garnered by the opposition: 42.8%)

1982: 9 out of 22 (total popular votes garnered by the opposition: 39.5%)

1986: 24 out of 29 (total popular votes garnered by the opposition: 41.5%)

1990: 20 out of 53 (total popular votes garnered by the opposition: 46.6%)

1995: 9 out of 30 (total popular votes garnered by the opposition: 34.8%)

1999: 10 out of 45 (total popular votes garnered by the opposition: 43.5%)

2004: 12 out of 21 (total popular votes garnered by the opposition: 36.1%)

2008: 28 out of 82 (total popular votes garnered by the opposition: 46.75%)