The chess game of Malay politics

If I were a Malay voter in Sungai Limau I would vote Barisan Nasional so that Mukhriz would become stronger and hence Najib would always be under threat from Dr Mahathir and his team. Giving the seat to PAS would not allow them to take over the state. However, voting Umno would mean Mukhriz would remain relevant and hence Umno can be kept in check with Najib and his team on one side and Dr Mahathir and his team on the other.


Raja Petra Kamarudin

More than 90 per cent of the 27,222 registered voters in Sungai Limau are expected to vote tomorrow as compared to 89 per cent in the 13th general election. Election Commission (EC) secretary Datuk Abdul Ghani Salleh said the percentage was based on the positive spirit seen throughout the campaign period.

“The Sungai Limau by-election campaign is more family-friendly, calm and peaceful. The increase in voter percentage is due to the spirit of comradeship and family ties,” he told reporters after checking ballot boxes and voting equipment at Dewan Dato’ Madi, here today.

Abdul Ghani said of the 27,222 voters, three were postal votes involving a student in Egypt and two individuals working in Permatang Pauh and Sabah. He said 499 EC personnel, 116 policemen and 58 polling chiefs will be on duty for polling tomorrow, involving 58 polling streams and 17 polling centres.

“These chiefs will take voting equipment back to their locations, while indelible ink and ballot papers will be left at the hall until 6am tomorrow. The police will monitor the equipment and halls to prevent intrusion from any quarters,” said Abdul Ghani. He also advised voters to go out in stages from 8am to 5pm and to bring along their identification card.

Abdul Ghani added that the EC expected results for the by-election to be out at the latest by 10pm tomorrow, and ballots will be tallied at Dewan Lukman Al-Hakim, Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Agama Yan.


With 93% of the Sungai Limau voters being Malay this basically means it is going to be a ‘Malay fight’. However, how you perceive this by-election plus the results — that we will know 24 hours or so from now — all depends on how you perceive politics. And different people will perceive it differently.

According to political veteran Lim Kit Siang in his commentary below, he views a loss for Barisan Nasional as a setback for Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and a blow to what he calls Mahathirism.

I suppose this is one way of looking at things although, to me, this is too simplistic a way of looking at things — but appears to be how most Chinese look at things. Malays, however, have a more complex mind and if the kalimah Allah (Allah word) controversy has not convinced you enough of this then I do not know what will.

There are just too many factors and permutations to take into consideration when it comes to politics and not always is the shortest distance between two points a straight line. Sometimes you need to weave and meander to avoid all sorts of obstacles and roadblocks to get to where you want to go.

And that is how politics work if you can remember the series I wrote late last year called ‘The journey in life is never a straight line’.

The last day, in particular the final night, sometimes decides the outcome of a by-election. Hence what happens a few hours or so from now may decide what happens tomorrow. And by midnight it all ends when campaigning, by law, has to stop.

However, although the ‘official’ campaigning may end at midnight tonight — in five hours or so from the time I am writing this article (7.00pm Malaysian time) — the behind-the-scenes maneuvering will still go on right until the polling booths opens tomorrow. And it will still not end then. It will still go on even as the voters leave their homes to cast their votes.

If money is going to change hands — and you can bet your sweet ninny it is going to change hands — it will be done after midnight tonight and all the way until the polling booths close tomorrow. Hence the party that successfully ‘locks up’ the kampongs to prevent ‘bagmen’ from infiltrating the kampongs has the advantage.

Furthermore, the party that has the most number of vehicles needed to ferry the voters to the polling stations has another advantage because on the drive to the polling stations many ‘deals’ can be hatched.

Hence, at the end of the day, the final tally will rest on who has the most financing and logistics support. And if you have deep pockets you can turn the tide, especially in a by-election like Sungai Limau — which is a neck-to-neck race and there is no clear winner yet at the time I write this article.

The problem with the Malays, if you can call it a problem, is sometimes they are too honest. Chinese and Indians will take your money but that does mean they will vote for you. Malays, however, feel it would be dishonest if they take your money and not vote for you.

Now, as I said, the Malay mind is very complex to understand. If they take your money and not vote for you that is considered dishonest (sort of breach of contract). But is it not even more dishonest to take the money and vote for the one who gives you money? Is this not called bribery and corruption (doing something wrong for money)?

Unfortunately Malays do not think this way. Taking your money and not delivering your side of the bargain is dishonest while taking your money and fulfilling your obligation is honest even though both tantamount to bribery and corruption.

Even PAS spiritual leader Tok Guru Nik Aziz Nik Mat asked the PAS supporters to take the money and not vote for Barisan Nasional whereas he should have said taking the money is still bribery and corruption whether you do or do not deliver. (One chap in Terengganu was found guilty of corruption even though his defense was he took the money but did not deliver what he was paid to do).

Will the voters in Sungai Limau remember the late Azizan Abdul Razak’s jasa (service and goodwill) to their constituency and to the state as Menteri Besar, plus honour his legacy? If they do then PAS is going to win.

Will the voters remember that Azizan was too ‘Umno-friendly’ when he was the Menteri Besar of Kedah? If they do then Azizan’s jasa and legacy will not carry any weight because he would be placed in the ranks of PAS leaders such as Hassan Ali, Asri Muda, Nakhaie Ahmad, and so on (even though Azizan did not leave PAS to join Umno).

Will the voters remember Dr Mahathir’s jasa to the country in his 22 years as Malaysia’s Prime Minister? If they do then they will vote Barisan Nasional since Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz is his son. However, if Dr Mahathir is remembered as the Prime Minister who ruined the country — plus was an ‘obstacle’ to Islam (who also insulted the Prophet’s beard) — then the voters will vote PAS.

So the by-election is not just about money and logistics over the next 24 hours, although that does have a bearing on the outcome. The late Azizan’s jasa, Dr Mahathir’s jasa, Islam, kalimah Allah, the perception that the Christians are kurang ajar (insolent) in their demands regarding the Allah word, and so on, also have a bearing on how the 93% Malay voters will think and cast their votes.

Further to that, Malays would take other issues into consideration. If they vote PAS that would mean they agree with Pakatan Rakyat’s stand that there is nothing wrong with Christians using the Allah word.

If they vote PAS that would mean they do not support Mukhriz and hence Mukhriz’s political career as far as his attempt to win a seat in the Umno vice presidency in 2016 would be in jeopardy and this would also mean Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and his team (such as Hishammuddin Hussein) would become stronger.

If I were a Malay voter in Sungai Limau I would vote Barisan Nasional so that Mukhriz would become stronger and hence Najib would always be under threat from Dr Mahathir and his team. Giving the seat to PAS would not allow them to take over the state. However, voting Umno would mean Mukhriz would remain relevant and hence Umno can be kept in check with Najib and his team on one side and Dr Mahathir and his team on the other.

In fact, Lim Kit Siang’s commentary is quite accurate. The only thing is the Malays might vote Barisan Nasional not because they support Dr Mahathir but because they do not support Najib. Hence the only way to undermine Umno is to not vote PAS but to vote Umno. Then Umno would become split with two warlords fighting for power rather than kill one side (Dr Mahathir’s side) and allow the other side (Najib’s side) to become too strong, which means Umno too would become strong.

This is sort of like the poisoned chalice or the kiss of death. My vote is not to strengthen you but to kill you. Hence I vote for you so that chaos can reign in Umno when two sides become equally powerful.

And do not underestimate the way the Malay political mind works. When they smile and salam it could probably mean that there is malice in the gesture. Hence a smiling Malay can sometimes mean that your death is near.

Devious people these Malays are, don’t you think so?


Will Mahathir and Mahathirism suffer a third and probably final setback in six months in the Sungai Limau by-election tomorrow?

Lim Kit Siang

The Sungai Limau by-election tomorrow will answer the question: Will Mahathir and Mahathirism suffer a third and probably final set-back in six months?

Last week, former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir said that the “lunatic fringe” have taken a hold of Malaysia as the ruling Barisan Nasional struggles to deal with diminished public support despite retaining its hold on government.

Mahathir is right when he claimed that the administration of current Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is weak and feels it needs to entertain “unreasonable demands” from extremist groups to remain relevant to the public but wrong when he identified such extremist groups as coming from Pakatan Rakyat.

In fact, Mahathir has himself become the very personification of the extremist “lunatic fringe” holding the “moderate majority” to ransom with their “lunatic” lies and falsehoods, undermining and even sabotaging the country’s nation-building, national unity and national development.

In Sungai Limau Dalam on Oct. 21 to announce the Pakatan Rakyat candidate for the by-election, I had expressed the hope that the Sungai Limau by-election would herald a new chapter of Malaysian politics with the by-election as a model of clean, honest and decent politics where there is no campaign of lies, falsehoods, character-assassination or the corruption of money politics.

But this was not to be, as right from the very first day, lies, falsehoods and character-assassination were the staple diet of the UMNO/BN campaign in the Sungai Limau by-election, including the dastardly lies that  the DAP wants to form a Christian state,  abolish the system of constitutional Monarchy and that the DAP is anti-Malay and  anti-Islam.

The lunacy of these lies and falsehoods are no different from the lunacy of the lies and falsehoods perpetrated by Mahathir during and after the 13th General Elections where he made the false, irresponsible and vicious accusations that:

·      I contested in Gelang Patah to cause a confrontation between the Malays and Chinese in Johore as I wanted the Chinese in Johore “to dislike and hate the Malays”; and

·      that DAP rejected the concept of Malay/Chinese/Indian power-sharing as the Chinese want to oust the political power of the Malays.

But Mahathir and Mahathirism suffered a great setback six months ago during the 13th General Election on May 5, when thanks to Malay voters who did not succumb to their  lies and falsehoods, I was able to win in Gelang Patah with a majority of over 14,000 votes.

In fact, my message in the Gelang Patah campaign in the 13th General Elections was the very opposite to the lies of Mahathir and Mahathirism – as I had sought to summon an unprecedented unity of Malays, Chinese, Indians, Ibans and Kadazans under the vision of  a common Malaysian Dream to build a more united, democratic, free, just, competitive and prosperous nation for all Malaysian citizens.

Similarly, in Shah Alam and Pasir Mas,  Mahathir and Mahathirism were  unable to deliver victory for the “lunatic fringe” as represented by  Perkasa President Ibrahim Ali and vice President Zulkifli Noordin in the 13th General Elections.

In fact, the Shah Alam Umno division chief said after the general elections that if Mahathir had not campaigned in Shah Alam, BN might have earned more votes.

The second setback for Mahathir and Mahathirism was in the UMNO party elections last month and Mahathir blamed money politics for his failure to ensure victory of his son Mukhriz Mahathir as one of the UMNO Vice Presidents.

The Sungai Limau by-election on Monday on November 4 falls exactly six months after the 13th General Elections on May 5.

Mahathir today turned up on the UMNO/BN campaign trail in Sungai Limau by-election and has adopted the stance that money politics in Umno party elections against his son Mukhriz was reprehensible but “OK” for UMNO and Mukhriz when practised in the Sungai Limau by-election.

But the more interesting question is whether Mahathir and Mahathirism will suffer a third and probably final setback in six months after the 13th General Elections in the Sungai Limau by-election tomorrow – which will be the case if PAS and Pakatan Rakyat candidate Mohd Azam Samat can secure the constituency, and even better, with an increased majority.

This will be the best political news for the country.