Malaysia may be in a dangerous position if Malays continue to rule and Chinese remain with the opposition, say Singapore scholars

Chinese support the opposition in a lopsided way while Malays cast their votes for the ruling party. Based on past results, Malays are still supporting Umno. Judging from the angle of a country, this is unhealthy as different racial groups are split in their votes. If the situation continues, a very dangerous scenario may emerge in Malaysia.

(Malaysian Chinese News) – As the 14th General Election is around the corner, Singaporean scholars feel that the political scenario in Malaysia is relatively unhealthy. If the poll result of the coming election is similar with the result of the last election where Chinese give lopsided support to the opposition while the Malays support Barisan Nasional, Malaysia may in a dangerous position.

“Racial issue will continue to be the main topic in Malaysia. Malaysians would still vote according to race. The scenario of becoming more Islamic to please voters can be aggravated. This is risky.

“The coming election is a battle of Najib’s reputation for Barisan Nasional. It is almost like a public referendum for Najib. He is believed to go all out for the sake of his reputation.”

Guo, a Sin Chew Daily reporter who is currently conducting research under the Asia Journalism Fellowship Programme in Singapore, interviewed three Singaporean scholars for their views on the coming election in Malaysia. One of the Malay scholars believes that the election may be the turning point for Malaysia. Umno might be defeated by the opposition.

Han Fook Kwang: Key lies with Malay votes

Han Fook Kwang, Straits Times editor-at-large with special responsibilities cum Nanyang Technological University (NTU) Rajaratnam School of International Studies research fellow said scenario in Malaysia is relatively unhealthy.

Chinese support the opposition in a lopsided way while Malays cast their votes for the ruling party. Based on past results, Malays are still supporting Umno. Judging from the angle of a country, this is unhealthy as different racial groups are split in their votes. If the situation continues, a very dangerous scenario may emerge in Malaysia.

“To Umno, the key lies with Malay votes. Umno will continue to go all out to keep Malay votes. If Umno manages to maintain similar ratio of Malay votes this round, then the outcome of the election does not have any difference compared to the 2013 election. Chinese support of DAP remain strong and MCA is still weak.

Due to history, he said Singaporeans are interested in the politics of Malaysia in the region. He is keen to know whether a change of government will take place. How would the opposition debate issues with the ruling party? Another issue would be measures used by the ruling party to retain power.

“As Singapore is close to Malaysia where the racial structure is also similar, to some extent this would affect the racial unity in Singapore despite Singaporean Malays and Malaysian Malays are quite different. For the past 50 years, political development in two countries varies; Singapore does not have any race-based political party, the PAP is a party for all, other oppositions are similar too.”

On the Malay tsunami, he attended the sharing session of DAP leader Liew Chin Tong and Tun Mahathir’s son Mukhriz in Singapore. He was not sure if this could take place but agree that the battle lies with Malay voters.

“This election is different from the last election as Mahathir is involved. He may be successful in pulling some Malay votes especially in states like Kedah and Johor. Barisan Nasional and Umno would have to go all out to beat their opponents.”

Razali: Unclear about Malay tsunami

Razali, a senior researcher at the Rajaratnam School of International Studies under NTU believes that this election is quite crucial, as it could be a turning point.

He said the Barisan Nasional-led Malaysian Government could be overturned by joint leadership of former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir and Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar of the opposition.

Razali, who was a former journalist of the Straits Times and Business Times, said he had been following the politics in Malaysia since the 80s. He told Sin Chew Daily that he does not worry about the election. If elections in Malaysia are undergoing natural transformation toward growth in democracy, to some extent, the drama of violence and shrinking of power are normal part of a political party and political system.

He said whether Malay tsunami will take place it would be subjected to further observation. Generally Singaporeans hope the Malaysian election would be held peacefully.

Dr Joseph Liow Chin Yong: A battle of reputation for Najib

Dean of NTU Rajaratnam School of International Politics Dr Liow is of the view that to the Barisan Nasional, the coming General Election is a battle of reputation for Najib; it is almost like a public referendum of Najib. Najib is believed to be going all out to defend his reputation.

He said it would be hard to gauge the Malay tsunami as the Mahathir factor is still difficult to ascertain. The key lies with the number of votes that Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia would receive from rural Malays. The party would be more prominent in Kedah, Johor and Selangor.

Barisan pledged to win back Selangor while the opposition has targeted Johor as its frontline. These two states are the forts for Umno and MCA. If the opposition bags Johor, it is equivalent to defeating Umno and MCA.

He said ties between Malaysia and Singapore improved significantly in Najib’s era. As a government, Singapore would collaborate with any government. If change of government were to take place, the question lies with whether the new government would proceed with the collaboration agreement signed during Najib’s era. One example would be the Kuala Lumpur – Singapore high speed rail.

He said if the Barisan Nasional were to continue with its ruling, Malaysian policies are unlikely to have major changes. Instead, he believed Najib would embark on successor plan soon after the election.

He said if the opposition were to rule, many negotiations are expected to take place as they are of equal status.

The interesting part of this election would be why is the candidate of Prime Minister for this new and active alliance a former Prime Minister and older than the Barisan Nasional’s prime minister?

After studying the Malaysian politics for more than 20 years, he said racial ties in Malaysia should improve over the years but in reality it is the opposite.

Hope to see the unleash of Malaysia’s potential

Compare to Singapore, he said Malaysia is a country full of potential as it is rich in natural resources. He sincerely hopes to see the development of Malaysia’s potential. Unfortunately it is hampered by some events. Politics is one of the hurdles. In Malaysia many issues are unfortunately politicised, right from education, economic policy, religion and even to localised issues.

He said judging from the opposition’s point of view, they could not be attacking Najib only. They have to show their capability in ruling and more reliable than Barisan Nasional. As the oppositions have formed Pakatan Harapan and included Pribumi, now the opposition is sending messages to voters that they are capable of collaborating.

He said the problem now is whether Pakatan Harapan becomes another Barisan? However, the answer for this would be conflicting. It would not be good for Malaysia if Pakatan Harapan ends up as another Barisan Nasional. It is because of this that it stands a chance to topple Barisan.

He said economy would be another key issue in the election. This is why Najib takes the trouble to seek support from China especially allowing China to invest in mega infrastructure projects in Malaysia.