Chinese voters were “kingmakers” by default

 “Ripening durian” by Sim Kwang Yang  is about the coming general election in general.

Sim has brought up an interesting point on the role of Chinese voters in the elections after years of gerrymandering of seats by the BN coalition with the help of SPR. While such strategy has weaken the chances of DAP very significantly, it has now become an “unstable” factor in the whole power equation. The kris-wielding Hishamuddin Hussein may not win in the next elections if all the Chinese voters some 30%)in his constituency decided to teach him a lesson.

Yes, there are certainly much fewer seats that were considered “Chinese seats” (no more than 40 in total ) and therefore blowing away the winnning  chances of DAP.But the spreading out  of Chinese voters to so many seats now potentially could cause trouble to BN parties when these seats were contested “neck-to-neck’ by two equaly powerful candidates. In a way, the Chinese voters,by default, play the role of “kingmakers”. To certain extent, the Indian voters also paly the role of “kingmakers” in keenly contested seats.

Such situation created another political reality the opposition parties must strike out some form of cooperation if they were serious about challenging the Umno-led BN coalition. One could only win with the support from voters of all races. As it is, DAP counts on the Chinese votes and some Malay and Indian votes, and Pas could only garner Malay votes. Keadilan? Mostly Malay votes plus some Chinese and Indian votes. Individually, these parties cannot go very far.

If the opposition parties cannot form a coalition similar to the BN, they must at least stop fighting among themselves and try their best to reach some form of understanding. An electoral pact? Fighting together on some common issues? Sharing of man power?

On the other hand, the Malaysain voters must also learn to be smarter. They cannot wait until the opposition parties become as strong as those in the West before they could throw their support. They also cannot withhold their support just because the opposition parties were perceived to be disunited. You will be terrribly wrong if you think that the ruling BN parties were united. They were stucked with each other because of the “sharing of spoils” derived from the so-called sharing of powers.

Malaysian voters must realise that the opposition parties in this country were fighting an uphill battle. There is no level playing field here. ..

1.No freedom of press and therefore no equal and fair chances of dissemination of information to the voters.

2.The police is not being neutral , they were used as tools to break up the support base of the opposition parties. 

3.The businessmen were threatened not to fund the opposition parties. Some were too scared to be even associated with the opposition leaders.

4.The Election Commission (SPR) functions and behaves more like an component party of the ruling BN coalition. There is no fair and clean elections in our land.

So how could any opposition party possibly grow into a strong entity under such undemocratic circumstances?

No opposition parties ( or rather, no political parties) were without weaknesses and shortcomings. They need your support to become stronger or strong enough to challenge the sick and arrogant BN coalition parties. 

Vote any opposition party in your area. Just anyone. Anyone would be better than those led by the evil Umno. 

Make no mistakes. Umno is the common enemy of all Malaysians. Not Pas. Not Keadilan. Not DAP.

Ripening durian

Sim Kwang Yang
Feb 24, 07 1:02pm-

SIM KWANG YANG was DAP MP for Bandar Kuching in Sarawak 1982-1995. Since retiring in 1995, he has become a freelance writer in the Chinese-language press, and taught philosophy in a local college for three years.He is now working with an NGO in Kuala Lumpur, the Omnicron Learning Circle, which is aimed at continuing learning for working adults and college students. Suggestions and feedback can reach him at:

‘An Examined Life’ appears in Malaysiakini every Saturday.

DESPITE the PM’s often repeated statement that the next general election is not likely to be held soon, the vote is obviously very much on the mind of politicians, journalists, and political pundits throughout our land.

Obviously, the PM must have received worrisome reports from intelligence agencies about how people feel generally on the ground. In the last twelve months at least, the natives have been restive, and the Chinese and Indians have been seething with discontent.

You can analyse until the cow come home why suddenly Malaysians of all races begin to harbour doubts about the credibility of the ruling parties in delivering the good life, but surely, like most modern democracy, the economy must sit very much at the centre of this tornado of resentment.

In the last month or so, there has been an apparent attempt to change this public perception that we are now better off than before. The shares market is finally climbing towards the level similar to that before the 1997 disaster. All sorts of statistics about our booming economy dominate the front pages of our newspapers. Ambitious projects to revive the economy and huge government expenditure under the 9th Malaysian Plan are touted weekly.

Apparently, our trade figure has surpassed the one trillion mark for the first time. Our unemployment rate is low, and so is our consumer price index. Our GDP growth rate continues to hold at between 5 to 6 %. All these numbers indicate a prosperous booming economy. The people should be enjoying a high standard of living, and happily support the government during the pending general election.

Unfortunately, in this country, we do not have credible professional public opinion poll, like the Gallup Poll in the US. Most first world nations have regular opinion polls to gauge the mood of the people on any subject at any one time. That we have yet to see such professional poling is an indication that we are very far from being a first-world nation.

Grey area

We can only speculate as to the reason why we do not have such polls in Malaysia.

We do know that both the ruling parties and the opposition have their own solid support base, consisting of die-hard supporters who will vote for the object of their loyalty, no matter what. Generally speaking, the support base for the ruling parties will be far larger and more solid than that for the opposition. The ruling parties do have the advantage of incumbency, and possess such resources and political largess as to consolidate their power base with ease.

Between the die-hard support bases for the BN and the opposition, there exists a grey area of undecided voters, ranging from very intelligent voters who will weigh and compare the two contending sides, to voters who simply do not have a clue about politics. Their size in any constituency varies, but small they may be in numbers, their polling trend may and often does change the outcome of any keenly contested election. One could say that these “fence-sitters” are actually the king-makers in any general election.

Seasoned campaigners know well that no effort and expense should be spared in wooing these “fence-sitters”. Loyalty to their race and religion often works, and so does intimidation and fear. In Sarawak and Sabah, cash usually speaks louder than words.

Everybody loves a winner. Strange as it may sound, there are actually many fence-sitting voters who will vote where the wind blows. Somehow, if they get an inkling that in any one constituency, the opposition is enjoying strong support, they will be better fortified against bribe and intimation to vote for the opposition as well. There is always this group psychology of strength in number at work. This trend seems to apply to both informed and uninformed voters.

Therefore, it is not to the interest of the ruling parties to allow professional credible public opinion polls. For one thing, if the government is getting unpopular, a transparent poll showing it to be so may trigger off and create a chain-reaction of discontent, encouraging more support for the opposition. For another, without independent objective polls, it is far easier for the BN controlled media to manufacture the public perception that all things are rosy and well.

Public perception may not be the end all and be all in a democracy, but it is nearly that. Take the American Presidential election for instance. There, the presidential election is now shut off to all except those who are very wealthy themselves, or who can raise billions of campaign funds, much of which will go to TV advertising. In this age of media illusion being mistaken for reality, Abraham Lincoln would never be elected because of his less-than-handsome feature.

Trickle down effect

The latest round of spin about how well our economy is doing is an indication that the next general election is near at hand. At the same time, the PM may also wish for the massive injection of public investment into the national economy to bear fruit. That means allowing the 9th Malaysian Plan to gestate. The trickle down effect will have to take some time.

The critical date to watch would be our nation’s 50th Independence Day this year. With the usual outbursts of euphoria and hysterical patriotism usually associated with such an event, the national mood would be favourable to the ruling partiers. Then again, somewhere down the line in October perhaps, the Budget Session of Parliament is another occasion for the government to shower the nations with a whole host of goodies.

Without access to privileged information, and wild-guessing entirely from my comfortable armchair, I would predict that the next general election could possibly fall sometime after October this year, and more likely to happen at the beginning of next year.

The next 12 moths are crucial for all parties eyeing the next general election with great interest.

It will be even more crucial for the PM. Obviously, his honeymoon with the Malaysian electorate is over. There were great expectations of what he could deliver when he led the BN to a landslide victory in 2004. That kind of expectations will now return to haunt him.

His baggage will now wear on him like the Himalaya mountains. His own party and the parties within the ruling coalition are cracking at the seams. Having been liberated from the iron claws of the previous PM, the media have uncovered many huge hornet’s nests and giant skeletons in the BN closet. The nation is awash with a plethora of highly inflammable issues.

Above all, the people are hard up, no matter what the official statistics say about our booming economy.

A recent poll conducted by an independent body has shown that as of now, if an election were held today, two-third of the Chinese would vote for the opposition, while one-third of the Indians and the Malays would do likewise.

The PM may not be all that worried about a swing of Chinese votes to the opposition, as long as he holds on to the Malay base in rural and semi-rural constituencies, especially those in Sarawak and Sabah. Given the decades of electoral gerrymandering, the proportion of Chinese majority seats in the country has declined with each delineation. Even if no Chinese votes for the BN, the ruling parties may still be in power.

Anwar’s biggest challenge

This time around, however, there is a difference. There are many seats where no single ethnic community enjoys a simple majority. There are many seats where the Chinese votes count from between 5 to 15% of the total votes within the constituency. If there is a keen contest between two equally powerful candidates, the Chinese voters may find themselves playing role of king-makers. Extrapolate this situation to the whole country, and the Chinese votes would suddenly become crucial in deciding the national balance of power – if only they know it, and know how to make use of this fact to their advantage.

The racially mixed seats ought to be fertile hunting ground for Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR). This young party has been in a political doldrums, even after the release of Anwar Ibrahim. The next election is certainly the do-or-die battle for them. It may also be Anwar Ibrahim’s severest test in his entire political career.

No single opposition party can ever dream of threatening the BN grip on power naturally. Our nation’s politics is condemned to be one of alliance. So far, no meaningful alliance of opposition parties has ever appeared on our nation’s political stage.

Whatever his political baggage may be, Anwar Ibrahim is the X factor in opposition politics. He is still the only one who can work as both a pivot and a catalyst in forging a rainbow coalition of opposition forces and making a significant dent in fortress BN. That makes the next general election more interesting to watch.

During fruiting season, the durians that are almost ripe will fall of their own accord. The same phenomenon applies to politics as well. What kind of durian will we get after the next election is anybody’s guess.




6 Responses to “Chinese voters were “kingmakers” by default”

  1. sampalee Says:

    If possible DAP should work with Pas OPENLY as the voters are mostly not very sophisticated look to the opposition for direction as the media cannot be trusted.A marriage is the right and proper thing for all,while cohibiting only for those engaging in the act and there is no sincerrity for a larger cause for the people and nation.

  2. K.S Tan Says:

    Sampalee said: …. DAP should work with Pas OPENLY as the voters are mostly not very sophisticated look to the opposition for direction ….

    Wow! I’m sure you gave a long thorough thought before you wote that right?

  3. Billy Says:

    I have no problems voting for PAS and even one of my brothers voted for them in the 1999 and 2004 GE. If one were to compare the behaviour of UMNO and PAS, UMNO paints a very frightening scenario of things to come should they be re-elected into office. The question is: Do we want to be treated like dirt again like they way they treated the non-Malays in the last three years. The BN is nothing more than a marriage of convenience with UMNO calling all the shots while the rest whimper away in the corner. Where is the pride of MCA, MIC, GERAKAN, PPP, PBS, etc? The reaction of the non-Malay component parties, sad to say is so pathetic and certainly do not deserve our sympathies.

  4. ronnieliutiankhiew Says:

    who took out the kris and spoke with fire?
    who lied about the bumi equity?
    who abused the NEP a.k.a never ending policy?
    who gave Islam a really bad name?
    who threatened the whistleblowers with OSA?
    who abused ISA to silent dissenting voices?
    who destroyed your temples?
    who denied you the right to mother-tongue education?
    who sent their kids to overseas to study but asking you to keep your kids in local schools?
    who used th police as their governing tools?
    who destroyed your homes without the rightful compensation?
    who burdened the rakyat and gave all the benefits to toll companies?
    who raised the fuel hikes and refused to bring down the price when the rest of the world were doing it?
    who amassed great fortune for their own families and cronies?
    who built mansions like palaces illegally ?
    who refused to give you land for agriculture?
    who allowed religious fanaticism to thrive in our land?

    you must have the answers if you were not blind.

  5. sampalee Says:

    Who in Dap and Pas voice against both working under BA?[you got it right,if the answer is the same as you would give to above questions posed by Ronnie]Beware of enemy under the sheet[selimut]+

  6. muhibbah Says:

    DSAI is a much needed man by the Opposition front but AAB of UMNO Iis also trying very hard to woo him back too. I wonder if DSAI appreciates the support rendered to him when he was in Sg. Buloh. If the Opposition wants to win in the next GE, go get DSAI!

    But I’m very positive DSAI will not disappoint the rakyat this time. If he feels that UMNO is still the platform to relaunch his political carreer, then that’s a big mistake.

    Chines saying…”A good horse will never go back to the same place to graze the grass”

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