Saturday, February 2, 2013

Election 2013: Race contestation at its sharpest / review 1955-69

Election 2013: Race contestation at its sharpest / review 1955-69



There were three federal elections before ‘the’ one on 10 May 1969. They were in 1955, 1959 and 1964, and the contests were about the two major races vying for political power.
Malays enjoyed a disproportionate advantage because many Chinese inhabitants at that time were not citizens and thus ineligible to register as electors.
According to the 1957 census, the population of Malaya was 49.8% Malay and 37.2% Chinese; 1955 itself was not a census year. (Census years were 1957, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1991, 2000, 2010).
The breakdown of those registered to vote in 1955:
  • 84.2 percent: 1,078,000 Malays
  • 11.2 percent: 143,000 Chinese
  • 3.9 percent: 50,000 Indians
  • 0.7 percent: 9,000 Others
The big edge which the Malays possessed in 1955 was lost after the liberalization of citizenship during Merdeka. Between 1957 and 1959, a total of close to 910,000 non-Malays were enfranchized as citizens — a development which diluted the Malay voting strength although the community was roughly half the population in both the election years.
From being 84.2% of the electorate four years earlier, the Malays – now 57.1% of the electorate – saw the power of their vote drop steeply.
In 1959, there were some 764,000 Chinese voters or 35.6% of the electorate, which was a marked rise from the 11.2% of the previous GE edition.
Chinese in the urban areas voted predominantly for the opposition. The reduction of rural weightage gave another boost to the Chinese electoral strength.
The third general election took place a year after the formation of Malaysia which added more Chinese – Singapore’s. In 1964, following the entry of Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak, the country’s ethnic breakdown settled at an uneasy 46.4 percent Malays and natives, and 42.1 percent Chinese.
Singapore had conducted her elections separately in 1963.
In GE3, Malays were 50.1 percent of the population in relation to being 54.4 percent of the electorate.
Chinese, excluding the Singapore residents, were 36.8 percent of the 1964 Malaysian population.
Three months after the April general election in Malaysia, race riots broke out in Singapore between Malays and Chinese following a Maulidur Rasul procession in July 1964.
By the fourth general election, the advantage of the Malays had levelled off whereas the Chinese voting strength relatively increased.
In 1969, MCA contested 33 seats and lost 20 — a failure rate of 60.6%. In 2008, MCA contested 40 seats and lost 25 — a failure rate of 62.5%.
Therefore, going by ratio, the MCA of 2008 fared worse than the MCA of 1969 at the polling booth.
On May 13, 1969, MCA announced its withdrawal from the Alliance government.
Vis-a-vis the Chinese BN component party, the election of 2013 should not be compared to that of 1969. The comparable poor performance of MCA is rightly between 2008 and 1969.
In 2013, we’re talking Dino World for the MCA.

The 13th general election

There is a ‘Run up to the GE13′ analysis today in the Planet of the Monyets blog. The blogger Raja Monyet did an assessment on the comparative strengths of the political parties, namely DAP, Umno, PAS, MCA, MIC and PKR — listed in descending order according to most progress made since GE12.
I’ve summarized Raja Monyet’s assessment of the DAP below. For his evaluation on the other parties, please read at the source blog.
Raja Monyet wrote:

Click 2x to read
Click 2x to read

Summary of the Raja Monyet appraisal:

DAP is “a Chinese party to the core”.
(A) Support base
  • very strong among Chinese
  • consolidated its appeal to Chinese voters after winning Penang
(B) Tactics and strategy
  • clever, sophisticated campaigns
  • sleek machinery
  • most tactical of all the parties
(C) Party image beyond its diehard followers
  • little progress in attracting non-Chinese supporters
  • DAP = Lim Kit Siang = Chinese chauvinist (in the eyes of the bulk of the Malays)
  • perception corroborated by Tunku Aziz’s departure as well as zilch Malay CEC members
  • kalimah ‘Allah’ drama alienating Malay voters
(D) Forecast performance
  • Will lose significant Malay votes
  • Will win more urban-Chinese seats (both state & Parliament)
  • Will make inroads in Johor, Sabah & Sarawak
  • May lose some mixed seats in Perak & Negri Sembilan

The Firster myth-making

That race relations in our past were as rosy as they’re portrayed in Yasmin Ahmad’s Petronas National Day TV ads is a myth peddled by the Firsters.
These blinkered Beyond Race opposition supporters have chosen to lay the problem of ethnic tensions alpha and omega at Dr M’s door. It merely smacks of the In-Denial Syndrome that they indulge themselves in.
The two majors races, the Malays and the Chinese, have always struggled for power against each other.
Umno and MCA representing both races respectively had previously managed to contain the tensions. That is until 1969 when it blew over.

Chinese vs Malay, no ifs

The general election scheduled for this year is a definite game changer. DAP will emerge the strongest Pakatan party in its aftermath.
Without doubt, the status quo will remain of Umno as the strongest. The Malay party currently has 77 MPs in our 222-seat Parliament. Its 34.7 percent share of Parliamentarians takes Umno far out in the field.
Post GE13, the scenario will be DAP vs Umno. There are no two ways about this.
DAP is “a Chinese party to the core” in Raja Monyet’s view and his is an opinion shared by many even should the Dapsters most strenuously deny it.
Umno is a Malay party — that’s what its name proclaims unequivocally.
The political equation is unavoidably Chinese vs Malay, head on.













Run up to the GE13 : A monyet’s assessment on the strength of political parties

The GE13 is due very soon. Despite many chickenheads making various predictions over the past year, no one really had a f*#king clue when the elections will be. Some said it will in June 2012, some said September 2012, some said November 2012, others said Feb 2013, etc, etc. So do not believe any predictions (including this one).

The following is my assessment of the progress the various political parties in Peninsular Malaysia have made since 2008 and their standing today. Of course, since I am only a little monyet and not very smart, please take my assessment with a large dose of salt. I am only an amateur – so forgive my amateurish analysis. Only Peninsular Malaysia based political parties are discussed. I only know a little bit about political parties in Sabah and Sarawak.
The assessment is based on my own discussions with various individuals who are knowledgeable in the politikus industry in Malaysia, the review of various political literature, media reports and blogs as well as listening to my cat. I have made an extra effort to understand the sentiments of the non-Queen’s English speaking crowd and the rural voters as these two groups combined making up the bulk of voters in Peninsular Malaysia. I would like to advise my readers (most of whom are urban, English speaking professionals) that you guys are a minority. You views are not necessarily representative of the views of the majority of Malaysians (you can read my earlier article about the importance of sample size here).

I will start with the party that has made most progress and go down in a descending order.
1.DAP has made most progress since 2008. It has a very strong support base amongst the Chinese and its winning of Penang has consolidated its appeal among the Chinese voters. Over the past 5 years, DAP has cleverly strategized its campaigns, has a sleek campaign machinery and probably the most tactical of all parties. If you study its campaigns, you will note that they are rather sophisticated – better than that of other parties. LGE is a good man, perhaps a little cocky now compared to before 2008. Regardless whether you like him or not, he is doing a fine job as the CM of Penang and that has won him many admirers. (note : LGE could do with better hairstyling)
Unfortunately DAP has made little progress in attracting non-Chinese supporters. DAP is by and large, a Chinese party to the core. To the bulk of the Malays in the country, DAP = Lim Kit Siang = Chinese chauvinist – and it is going to take a lot of effort to wipe out that image. Tunku Aziz’s high profile departure and the failure to elect any Malays into the CEC only corroborated that perception. Now that the romance of 2008 is over, DAP will lose a significant number of Malay votes that helped it win many seats previously. LGE's drama about the use of “Allah” only helps to alienate Malay voters.
Come GE13, DAP should win more, predominantly urban/Chinese seats (both state and Parliament) than it has now. I think it will make inroads in Johor, Sabah and Sarawak. It may lose some mixed seats in Perak and NS.
2. UMNO. Surprise, surprise. Of course if you have only been reading Malaysiakini and Chinese newspapers, you will find this hard to believe. UMNO has consolidated itself. Najib is very popular among the people (if he keeps Rosmah at a distance, he will be even more popular). Najib is doing a lot of things right. UMNO has a large grassroot network which is active on the ground. You may not hear very much about it – but UMNO Youth and the Wanita and Puteri folks are going good work on the ground outside the Klang Valley and Penang. UMNO now has a lot more professionals. Irrespective of whether you like him or not, Khairy Jamaluddin is very smart and very articulate. If you watched the debate between him and Ambiga, to many non-partisan observers, Khairy won hands down. [UMNO has in recent years, attracted many English-speaking urban Malays].
Najib is a smart cookie. Najib is head and shoulders above his predecessor, Slumberjack. Many of his GTP and ETP are working – although his team could do better by communicating the results clearly. You, my readers, might not see the benefits but folks in rural areas do. Abolishment of the ISA and a slew of other laws is a major breakthrough which none of his predecessors had the courage to do. Najib has made more progress on electoral reform than what was done by his predecessors over the past 25 years. All these have won him many admirers. Now that DrM is back supporting UMNO, many Malay votes will return to UMNO. The perception that the Chinese DAP is manipulating the Malay/Muslims will win votes for UMNO/BN. Najib has, of course, strong backing from the Indian community.
UMNO, of course, carries a lot of baggage. The party still has many half-brained porcupines and tortoise-heads. A lot of the older members are probably still living in the 1980’s. The past (and even present) cosy links between businesses and the party is a problem that UMNO has not yet managed to eradicate. It has an image of lethargy and corruption which will also take a long time to get over with. Its dominance within BN gives the impression that it is also a bully.
Come GE13, UMNO will win more seats than it has now (mainly at the expenses of PKR). With a bit of luck, it could win back Kedah or Kelantan.
3. PAS of course has a long history of grassroot activism and a formidable campaign/ election machinery. The fact that it has held on to Kelantan so long is a testament of its strength. With the 2008 win of Kedah, PAS has also consolidated itself. Among the Pakatan partners, PAS probably has the biggest election machinery. Since 2008, PAS has been actively campaigning and exerting its influence in Kedah, Perlis and Terengganu.

The party has a few smart young cookies but suffers "old" image problem. The prominence of Nik Aziz and Hadi gives the impression that it is a party of oldies – which it is not. Of course, its ultimate goal of establishing an Islamic state has never and will never go down well with a vast majority of Malaysians, Malay-muslims included. However by virtue of its loose partnership with DAP and PKR, PAS has tried to put forward a more tolerant, liberal face. But its constant flip-flop over the Allah issue, it’s position within Pakatan and all sorts of prehistoric policies has already cost PAS many non-Malay votes. More importantly, it has to find replacements for Nik Aziz and Hadi who are now more than 300 years old. Furthermore, it is an open secret that after 20 years of PAS rule in Kelantan, the state is in dire straits – among the poorest, highest incidence of HIV/rape and incest, unemployment – when it comes to economics, PAS knows shit.
Come GE13, I think PAS will more or less maintain what it has now. It seems ambitious in Johor but unlikely to win much in that state. PAS will remain strong in Kelantan, Kedah, Terengganu and Perlis – the four poorest states in Peninsular Malaysia. It will lose some seats in Selangor and Perak. It could lose Kelantan or Kedah. [note : it is completely lost in Sabah and Sarawak]
4. MCA. Very difficult to assess. It goes without saying that DAP is now the biggest Chinese party in the country and MCA is struggling to find its footing. But not all is lost. MCA members have rallied around Chua Soi Lek  (despite his “problems”) and CSL is seen as a firm leader. CSL has balls that his predecessors did not have. It has a large grassroot network and has been doing community work on the quiet. Despite what you may have read or heard, the Chinese have not totally abandoned the party.
MCA has to get rid of the image that it is UMNO’s pissboy (well I am not sure what a pissboy is but it sounds like a right word to use here) which I think CSL is trying to do. One of MCA’s advantages is that it, though its long association with UMNO, has a better understand of the Malay psyche and is generally seen by the bulk of the Malays as less chauvinistic than DAP.
MCA will still struggle in GE13. However, with UMNO’s resurgence, it should be able to maintain its existing seats and win a few more seats.
5. MIC. The departure of Samy Vellu can only be good news to any party. MIC under Palanivel maintains a low profile. The party has been focussing most of its efforts amongst middle to lower income Indians and mostly outside Klang Valley. Some of its new leaders are very hardworking, smart and articulate. Kamalanathan (I like him), for example is a smart bloke who is articulate in Malay, English and Tamil. Najib has made numerous goodwill gestures towards the Indian community which should translate into votes for BN. With the departure of Samy Vellu, more Indian professionals have joined the party.
MIC of course also suffers an image problem. It has not really produced many leaders who are capable of leading a multi-ethnic society. Many Indian professionals have shunned the party in the past. It has to do lot of work to modernize itself, inject new blood and make itself relevant.
For GE13, the good news for MIC is that the Indian voters are returning to BN. This is due to a combination of Najib’s gestures as well as MIC’s own effort. MIC should do better compared to its performance in GE12.
6. GERAKAN. I think status quo. The resurgence of UMNO should gain Gerakan some votes. It should be able to maintain its existing seats. Honestly, I don’t know enough about Gerakan.
7. PKR’s originally strength was that it is the only real Malaysian party with a multiracial leadership. It also had a leader, Anwar, who managed to bring PAS and DAP together. Anwar’s sodomy trial helped PKR aplenty. PKR now runs Selangor and Khalid is doing an OK job.
However, PKR is the most problematic party within Pakatan now. After flying high during GE12, PKR has basically gone downhill since. Seen as the weakest in the Pakatan coalition, it also had to endure a number of frogs that have switched allegiance. Through his own doing, Anwar has lost credibility (including his famous September 16 2008 claim and his role in the recent Bersih 3.0 rally). His recent frogging exercise in Sabah speaks a lot about him. The sex tapes did not help. PKR’s own elections in 2011 were in shambles – leading to senior members leaving the party. The image of Anwar, Azizah and Nurul at the head of the party also gives the impression that it is still a party for Anwar – nepotism is ripe in PKR. PKR members are largely UMNO drop-outs – they are seen as not having the discipline or morals of DAP or PAS.
PKR would be the biggest loser in GE13. Anwar cannot carry the party on his own anymore. The images of policemen being attacked by a mob during Bersih3.0 rally (which BN will use to the maximum effect) will not win votes for PKR. Pakatan may just hold on to Selangor through the skin of its teeth. The fact that PAS members have openly expressed their desire for Hadi to be PM could only spell trouble for Brader Anwar. Without PAS’ support, Anwar will lose in Permatang Pauh (note without Anwar’s support, Hadi and Nik Aziz will still win their respective seats)
8. As for PPP, KITA, KUTU, GARU, and other miscellaneous parties, they should seriously consider merging with one of the bigger parties. Tak ada harapan.
Monyet King says
1. There is one group of voters that will overwhelmingly vote for BN – namely the armed force, police, RELA, FRU, etc. Bersih3.0 rally completely alienated this group. The images of policemen being attacked by a mob during Bersih3 will be used by BN to good effect in its campaign. DAP and PKR constant bitching about the police force will not win them any favours from this group.
2. Forgive my amateurish analysis. After all, I am only a little monyet. And also, my mind was clouded today for the lack of good teh tarik.

3. This is my assessment. If you like it, fine. If you don't like it, please go here.


Latest intelligence PR to win 124 seats, BN 98: RM5 MILLION "going-rate" to lure PR contestants 






Daim: ‘BN only safe in three states in GE-13′







Malaysia Finally Readies for National Polls







Whether Najib will be the last Umno prime minister is up to voters, not Dr M or party yes-men - Kit Siang













Malaysian general election, 2013

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

 The 13th Malaysian general election must be held no later than 27 June 2013. The constitutional parliamentary term in Malaysia is five years, after which the parliament must be dissolved by the Yang di-Pertuan Agong on the advice of the Prime Minister as pertained in the Malaysian laws for national elections. Malaysia uses the first-past-the-post system. The election will be conducted by the Election Commission of Malaysia. While in theory any State may dissolve its assembly independently of the Federal Parliament, the traditional practice is for most state assemblies to be dissolved at the same time as Parliament, with the exception of Sarawak.



















How will the 2013 Malaysian election affect the economy?

Author: Shankaran Nambiar, Kuala Lumpur
Senior economists at investment houses JP Morgan Securities and Eastspring Investments Berhad have been quoted as saying that investors will act negatively if the opposition wins the upcoming Malaysian election.
However, it is too simplistic to say that a victory for the opposition will have a completely positive or absolutely negative effect on the Malaysian economy. The truth is more likely to lie somewhere in between these two extremes.
Ideologically speaking, the Malaysian opposition coalition is similar to the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN), as both coalitions subscribe to market-oriented economic policies. Both the BN and the opposition accept the value of FDI, the role of multinational corporations and the importance of trade.
The media has depicted the leader of the opposition, Anwar Ibrahim, as being close to the West and some oil-rich states in the Middle East. More generally speaking, media reports indicate that he is close to international capital. If that is true, then it is more than likely that he will use his influence to attract more FDI and portfolio funds.
Regardless of who rules the country, economic realities must be taken into account: Malaysia is a small, open economy that has to rely on foreign investment and trade to drive its growth. Neither of the potential leaders — Najib Razak nor Anwar Ibrahim — can deny this. Whichever party comes to power after the 2013 election will race to liberalise the economy. Differences, if any, will lie only in the manner or pace at which this is done.
The United Malays National Organisation (UMNO), a founding member of the BN coalition, claims to be the sole champion of Malay rights, and the only party that can ensure that Malays (the bumiputera) achieve a fair share of the nation’s wealth. Nevertheless, in its attempts to enjoy the benefits of free trade agreements, the government has slowly reduced some of its preferential treatment for bumiputera businesses.
The bumiputera entrepreneur development programs that some government-linked companies have created will have to end. The scheme to restrict petrol kiosks only to bumiputera businesspeople will similarly have to be cut back. Bumiputera vendors associated with the national automobile project will soon become more sensitive to market forces as the government ceases to protect this industry. The recently enacted Competition Act does not exclude bumiputera business from its ambit.
While the UMNO has to take care of its constituency, protectionist policies will need to be addressed if the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the EU–Malaysia free trade agreement are signed. The government no longer has the sort of free hand it once had to extend preferential treatment to promote the growth of bumiputera business.
Will the opposition act like the BN if it comes to power? Perhaps not. One of the opposition’s key policy platforms is transparency. The other platform is the eradication of wastage and leakages from the system. The opposition also speaks about improving the economy as a whole, rather than just the economic wellbeing of particular racial groups — like the bumiputera.
Fiscal policy is another critical area that demands attention in Malaysia. The Malaysian government’s policy of repeated fiscal deficits, especially when they are not needed, has to be addressed. This is an issue that the opposition has shown an interest in resolving, and it is a development that could improve Malaysia’s rating in the eyes of foreign investors, as well as placing the economy on more solid ground.
Another important issue is that of government expenditure. This raises two points. The first is projects and policy initiatives that involve high levels of government expenditure. It would be wrong to say that the opposition is opposed to spending on big-ticket items. They are unlikely to be averse to these projects in principle. Rather, it could be expected that the criteria for commitment to these projects will be assessed on their usefulness, efficiency and projected returns. As the opposition’s policy platform outlines, there would be greater accountability and transparency in undertaking these projects.
The other point pertains to the execution of ongoing projects. Legal requirements prevent the opposition from discontinuing projects that the government has already commenced. It would be wrong and to the opposition’s disadvantage to delay projects perceived to be in the national interest.
In truth, there is likely to be a balance of views among economists regarding the outcome of the 2013 Malaysian election. Those set on the long term, and those who see the prospect of economic reform, will be more positive in their evaluation. Those with their noses stuck in the very short term will wait to see how effectively the new government can run its business of managing the economy. Investors are likely to be bullish if the opposition projects confidence in the first months after their victory — that is, if they do in fact win.
Shankaran Nambiar is an economist who consults for national and international agencies. He lives in Kuala Lumpur. 






MCA’s last show of party strength











Thursday, 07 February 2013 14:10

Soi Lek's doomsday prediction is INSANE!

Written by Harakah
PAS Kuala Selangor member of pParliament Dzulkefly Ahmad has dismissed the claim by Chinese-only party MCA of an economic downfall should Pakatan Rakyat win the next election.
Dzulkefly said the doomsday prediction by MCA president Chua Soi Lek was nothing more than another attempt to help BN return to power.
““The fact you voice those thing means you don’t understand democracy; it shows you’re an autocratic, despotic government, because you can’t accept a regime change,” Dzulkefly told news portal Free Malaysia Today.
Chua had said that the Kuala Lumpur Composite Index (KLCI) would plunge by 500 points if PR took control of Putrajaya.
“Chua’s claim that a 500 point drop is equal to [a loss of] RM350 billion market capitalisation is insane,” said Dzulkefly, who added that the market would welcome PR with its better financial policies and greater transparency.
Dzulkefly stressed that change was part of a democratic routine and could not be equated to destruction.
“If this time people decide you have go, you go lah! Don’t involve Bursa [Malaysia] and all such nonsense. Stop the rumour-mongering and politics of fear. People will judge us based on our performance,” he added.








MCA’s last show of party strength


















Believe in miracles: why the 2013 Malaysian elections may surprise

by James Brown - 12 October 2012 12:24PM
While I was travelling in the US recently, I was fortunate enough to speak with Sidney Jones, the International Crisis Group's senior adviser on Asia. Sidney is at the University of California in Berkeley researching, amongst other things, land disputes in Asia.
Sidney has a new paper on the upcoming Malaysian election, which is likely to be called for early 2013. The Malaysian governing coalition, the longest serving coalition in the world, has been in power since 1955 and Sidney concludes that it would 'take a miracle' for them to lose. Even so, some people believe this might just happen, and in this video Sidney explains why:

Malaysia’s Coming Election: Beyond Communalism?

Asia Report N°235 1 Oct 2012
Malaysia’s thirteenth general election, which Prime Minister Najib Razak will have to call by April 2013, could be a watershed in communal relations. More than ever before, there is a chance, albeit a very small one, that opposition parties running on issues of transparency, economic equity and social justice could defeat the world’s longest continually-elected political coalition, the National Front (Barisan Nasional), that has based its support on a social compact among the country’s Malay, Chinese and Indian communities. That compact, granting Malays preferential status in exchange for security and economic growth, has grown increasingly stale as the growing middle class demands more of its leaders. Both ruling party and opposition are using images of the Arab Spring – the former to warn of chaos if it is not returned to power, the latter to warn of popular unrest unless political change comes faster.
Social and demographic change, coupled with effective opposition leadership and the rise of a broad-based movement for electoral reform, are likely to make this election at the very least a close contest. The ruling coalition, composed of the dominant United Malays Nationalist Organisation (UMNO); the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA); and the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), as well as several smaller parties, faces the Peoples Alliance (Pakatan Rakyat), composed of the Peoples Justice Party (Partai Keadilan Rakyat, PKR), led by former Deputy Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim; the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (Partai Islam Se-Malaysia, PAS). More than ever before, the swing vote may be the Malay middle ground: urban professionals, students and “netizens” – internet users – who have benefited from constitutionally-protected preferential status for Malays but who are tired of cronyism and corruption and are chafing under the tight controls on civil liberties.
The deck is stacked against the opposition for many reasons, not least because of an electoral system based on questionable voting rolls and carefully gerrymandered, single-representative constituencies where victory requires only a plurality (first past the post). Demands for a more level playing field gave rise in 2007 to a broad-based civil society movement, the Coalition for Free and Fair Elections, known as Bersih (Clean), that has held four mass street rallies drawing tens of thousands of participants: in November 2007; July 2011; April 2012 and August 2012. The first three were broken up by police with hundreds of arrests. In the third, violence on the part of a few participants led to harsh police counter-actions and allegations of brutality. Former Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad, now retired but leading UMNO’s ultra-conservatives from the sidelines, has been warning Malaysians to expect more violence in the streets if the opposition loses.
The big issues are the economy, corruption and political reform. Bread-and-butter topics matter most to the electorate, and Barisan’s vast resources enable it to dole out economic favours to strategic constituencies in the lead-up to the election. The opposition is getting plenty of mileage out of corruption scandals involving top UMNO officials, although UMNO is fighting back with legal challenges and defamation suits. Political reform is seen by both sides as a political winner. Prime Minister Najib has rolled back or reworked some of the draconian legislation – most notably the colonial-era Internal Security Act (ISA) – that Mahathir used to curb dissent during his 22 years in power, but the opposition denounces it as too little, too late.
Two huge issues are largely off the official agendas of both coalitions but dominate them in many ways. One is the preferred treatment for Malays in virtually all spheres of public life and whether opening political space and promoting social justice would diminish that status. The ultra-conservatives within UMNO are determined to protect Malay rights at all costs. The other is the question of Islamic law and religious tolerance. Under Mahathir, Malaysia embarked on a program of Islamisation of the government and bureaucracy, culminating in his declaration of an Islamic state in 2001. PAS, once known for a hardline Islamist agenda, is now led by pragmatists who are willing to put contentious issues like Islamic criminal justice on hold, at least temporarily, in the interests of trying to defeat Barisan. But neither side is above trying to scare non-Malay communities, particularly the Chinese, by predicting greater intolerance if the other wins. Within the opposition coalition, relations between PAS and the Chinese-dominated DAP remain fragile.
Both sides are furiously making calculations about tactics to win seats, tailoring their message to the communities concerned. The two eastern states of Sabah and Sarawak could be kingmakers, because they control 25 per cent of the available seats.
Ultimately the question Malaysians will have to answer on election day is which of the two choices will be better able to accommodate political change, while protecting minorities against the hardline forces that more openness can produce.
Jakarta/Brussels, 1 October 2012

Countdown to general election underway as polls must be held soon

NO more guessing when the general election will be held it will definitely be on this year.
The arrival of 2013 marks the start of the final countdown to the 13th general election, the timing of which had been the top political chatter for the past two years.
With just 17 weeks left before the term of the Dewan Rakyat expires on April 28, political parties are all set for what promises to be the most intense polls ever.
It is anyone's guess when Parliament will be dissolved but it will pave the way for Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak's first voter-mandate since becoming Prime Minister in 2009, though March appears to be an opportune month.
Election Commission deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said the EC will reach 100% readiness by the end of February, its deadline to complete all polling day preparations, such as securing the indelible ink that would be used for the first time.
Najib and his deputy, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, are expected to wrap up their final overseas working visits by late next month (February), after which they will remain in the country for the final push to the polls, sources said.
Najib's overseas itinerary will include the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, while Muhyiddin will be making a working visit to the United States this month.
Najib's New Year address, which outlined the Government's accomplishments in the past year, was laced with the choice that Malaysia's 13.1 million voters will soon face at the ballot box.
“The Government and myself will not be capable of providing the best possible service to the people without solid support from each of you.
“Give us a clear mandate and we promise to utilise your trust in the best possible manner to build a Malaysia for all.
“Even all this time it has been proven that we fulfil all our promises and commitments,” said Najib.
Muhyiddin, in his New Year message, urged the people to support the Government as the Government's efforts have placed Malaysia on track to achieve developed status by 2020. The new year, said MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, promises to be exciting as the party heads into a “do-or-die” battle.
Barisan Nasional secretary-general Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said the headquarters has already issued instructions right down to the division level to be prepared for the polls at any time now.
“It is like preparing for an examination; we have done the groundwork and are waiting for the PM's signal,” said MIC secretary-general Datuk S. Murugesan.
Meanwhile, the Pakatan is also entering 2013 with guns blazing.
Large gatherings by Pakatan are expected to spice up the political atmosphere in the run-up to the general election.
“There will be more intense arguments breaking out over politically charged issues at the gatherings, which will spill over to the Internet and spread through SMS or leaflets,” said National Council of Professors deputy chairman Prof Datuk Dr Shamsul Amri Baharuddin.
With both sides gearing up, expect Malaysia's political climate relatively tepid in recent weeks due to the 2012 year-end festivities to soon turn white-hot as election fever grips the nation like never before.
Related Story:
Najib outlines vision for 2013 with eye on election

January 12, 2013

People gather in the city ahead of the “KL112” rally in Kuala Lumpur, January 11, 2013. — Picture by Choo Choy May
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 12 ― Malaysia will once again come under the world’s microscope today as thousands of political and civil society activists converge in brute numbers in the capital city to challenge the ruling Barisan Nasional’s (BN) hold on Putrajaya since Merdeka. The “Himpunan Kebangkitan Rakyat”, popularly dubbed as “KL112” or the “rainbow gathering”, is a symbolic coming together of both the federal opposition Pakatan Rakyat (PR) pact and the country’s civil society movement in a mammoth event timed strategically just months before the national polls that must be held by June.
For both sides, the relationship is symbiotic, or even necessary to ensure their respective goals are achieved, whether it is to scrap the Lynas rare earth project in Kuantan, provide free tertiary education, reform the elections or to replace BN as the government.
Speaking to The Malaysian Insider yesterday, several analysts agreed that, for PR, today’s rally will be the best opportunity to re-energise its supporters and even sway apolitical activists and fence-sitters their way after Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak and his government implemented his 1 Malaysia concept to win back support.
“If everything runs peacefully, PR can count on the event having energised its members and supporters, having seen this groundswell of support.
“The impact will be positive and perhaps psychological as those in attendance, would feel uplifted and encouraged to work for the parties and the respective causes,” said Merdeka Center director Ibrahim Suffian.
Should the rally hit the targeted one-million mark or even draw close to half that amount of participants, the KL112 “rainbow gathering” will also likely be used as a yardstick to measure PR’s performance in the 13th general election.
To Ibrahim, the crowd numbers will be a “visual marker” for those with many grievances against the government and an indicator of what may occur when elections are called and the campaign race begins.
Universiti Teknologi Mara Prof Madya Shaharudin Badaruddin said the same, but added that the most significant impact of the polls would rest on how the rally sways the fence-sitters and not the hardcore supporters of either PR or the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN).
“If attendance is big, certainly the impact is good for PR. But most important is what it does to the fence-sitters,” he said.
But the academic added that it was important not to be dismiss the possibility that today’s mammoth gathering may also play well into BN’s hands.
He pointed out that the government’s openness in permitting the event to be held and the readiness of the police force to accommodate the event, would impress voters well.
“Perhaps they will see this as a government that is finally maturing, that is serious about the transformation policies that it has been speaking about.
“Therefore, for those who could have been swayed to the opposition, they may fall back into BN’s fold,” he said.
Agreeing, Ibrahim said the KL112 gathering could even prove to be a “double-edged” sword for PR, particularly if the event does not result in running battles between protestors and the police.
“At least for those in the middle, they will look at BN as more matured, as finally being appreciative of democracy and not afraid of contestation in this format,” he said.
In the build-up to this afternoon’s event, rally organisers have generated intense media buzz to cast a global spotlight on the city centre.
Even across Twitter, endless debates continued on into the dead of last night as excited participants discussed plans for the event.
To organisers, this is a mark of the “people’s uprising” or “kebangkitan rakyat”, which is the very purpose for the event.
“This is a rally to remind the government of the day, and those who may hold power next, that these are the grievances of Malaysians and they must be remembered and solved. The people are what matters,” activist Hishammuddin Rais told The Malaysian Insider last night.
He described the city centre as a whirlwind of activity as thousands of supporters and rally participants streamed in to await today’s mammoth event, which is set to kick off from 2pm to 5pm at the iconic Stadium Merdeka.
The activist acknowledged concerns of over-crowding in the stadium but insisted that peace would be maintained at all times, owing to the maturity and sincerity of those who have come to show support.
He said the stadium could fit some 30,000 people on its bleachers and at least 15,000 in the field, while outside the venue, there would be ample space for others to participate.
Massive speakers and screens are said to have been erected outside the stadium to enable those who could not squeeze into the stadium to witness the happenings inside.
The rally’s chief organiser, PAS deputy president Mohamad Sabu, said the event will help PR in its final push towards the coming 13th general election, which is expected to be the most hotly contested polls to date.
He said PR, the three-party pact which has come under attack recently for its differences in ideologies and founding principles, will also need to use the rally as its platform to prove that despite these many issues, the coalition remains united.
“We will show that we are united in our fight against BN, against all the cheating and manipulation.
“And what we want to do is to keep Malaysians alert so that our takeover will be successful, through a fair and democratic process,” he said.

Malaysian Election Deadlock Seen Possible

by Asia Sentinel (01-31-13)
Even before the election is called, the political scheming grows in volume
Najib vs Anwar
GE-13: Battle of 2 Personalities and their Ideas and Ideologies
Malaysia’s national elections, tentatively to be held sometime in late March or early April, are shaping up as a free-for-all that could end with neither the government’s Barisan Nasional nor the Pakatan Rakyat Opposition winning enough votes to take power, resulting in what is called a hung parliament, political observers in Kuala Lumpur say.
Actually however, the situation is fluid and, with polling a relatively inexact science in Malaysia, there is no clear idea which side will gather the most votes. The Merdeka Poll taken last month says 45 percent of the people think the country is going in the right direction, but that doesn’t mean 55 percent think it isn’t. The remainder are split into different camps and some academics have questioned the Mereka Poll’s polling methods.
A Big Test for Najib and 1Malaysia
Past predictions of close elections have been proven wrong as the Barisan1Malaysia2 has cruised home with majorities – although in 2008 that majority shrank dramatically. The apparent closeness of the race, however, has the business community on the edge. The lack of a clear mandate for one side or the other has raised fears of unrest.
One Malay businessman told Asia Sentinel recently that he plans to vote as early as possible on election day, which hasn’t yet been announced, and then get on an airplane immediately to get out of the country until he sees which way the wind blows. Several of his friends have made the same decision, he said.
That shouldn’t be overblown. Malaysia’s racial situation has been poisonous for decades, since race riots on July 13, 1969 took an estimated 400 to 600 lives in the wake of national elections in which the opposition gained 50.7 percent of the votes although the Barisan managed nonetheless to hold onto the parliament with 66 percent of total seats. Voter participation is likely to go well above 80 percent, according to academic Wong Chin Huat of the Penang Institute, as both sides pour on the resources in what is shaping up as a bitter contest.
Chinese Voters favour the Opposition
As many as 80 percent of the country’s Chinese voters are expected to opt for the Opposition, headed by Anwar Ibrahim, although the Indian community has shown signs of swinging back to the Barisan despite the disastrous condition of the ethic Malaysian Indian Congress, which is riven with factionalism and infighting. Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak has made a special effort to woo the Indian community, turning up at Indian festivals and other events. Indians make up about 7 percent of the country’s citizens.
With the government’s two lesser ethnic components – the Malaysian Chinese Association and the MIC – a shambles, the biggest political party, the United Malays National Organization, has largely turned to the ethnic Malay community, which makes up 60. 3 percent of the country.
Ibrahim Ali and PERKASA
Ibrahim AliIn doing so, the government has allowed Malay supremacist Ibrahim Ali (left) and his PERKASA NGO to run largely wild in an effort to paint the Chinese as squatters in a Malay country. That, and a series of scandals and MCA party infighting, has driven the Chinese into the embrace of the opposition Democratic Action Party.
It does raise hopes, however, that the racial situation is being manipulated artificially for electoral purposes and that once one side or the other wins, Ibrahim will shut up.
Malay Votes will be critical
The question is how much of the Malay vote the other two component parties can pull away from UMNO. Parti Islam se-Malaysia has sought to soften its rural, fundamentalist Islamic stance to take moderate Malays away from the larger party. PAS has traditionally been the best organized of the three opposition parties. Whether painting itself as moderate turns off its traditional rural base remains to be seen. The party has banned the wearing of form-fitting cheong-sam dresses by Chinese entertainers in Kedah, then backed away from it, and barred women from cutting men’s hair in Kelantan.
Generation X cannot be taken lightly
One of the big questions revolves around the three million new voters We the Rakyatregistered since the last election, either young voters, who in most countries are predisposed to be more liberal and open to change, as well as people who have never voted before but who have become disgusted enough by one side or the other to sign up.
Najib has made a concerted effort to woo them, turning up at rock concerts, forsaking his suit for sports dress and giving away thousands of coasters with his twitter address on them.
Another million-odd voters remain overseas. Thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, are planning to come back to their home country to mark their ballots. Until January, only full-time students, government servants and members of the armed forces and their respective spouses living overseas – most of whom are oriented towards voting for the government – have been allowed to register as absent voters and thus be entitled to vote by post. Previously, only Malaysian students, civil servants and members of the armed forces were allowed to vote overseas.
While the election commission has mandated that overseas citizens who had registered to vote and had returned home at least once in the five years before an election would be allowed to cast absentee ballots, the arrangements aren’t clear and voters aren’t taking chances.
There are roughly 300,000 Malaysian voters living in Singapore across the Causeway – almost all of them Chinese. Thousands are expected to come back across the border. Some, from as far away as Australia and the United Kingdom, have also indicated they would return. However, Wong said, it’s unlikely that their numbers would be enough to have an impact, except by the fact that the ones who do come back are motivated voters likely to push their families into going to the polls as well.
National Unity Government?
Ku LiOne scenario has the two sides deadlocked, with neither able to form a majority, and turning to a national unity government headed by a senior statesman like Tunku Razaleigh Hamzah (left), the onetime finance minister who in the late 1980s staged a revolt against then-Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad. This is one time it’s best to fall back on the ancient journalistic ending line that only time will tell.

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