Monday, March 17, 2008

Pak Lah, here's why BN lost


This is a letter written by Derek Law in malaysia kini..worth reading and analysing

To Yang Amat Berhormat Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Baldawi (‘Datuk Seri’),
The results of the 12th General Election (‘12 GE’) have been announced and the Barisan Nasional (‘BN’) has been returned to power, with a much reduced majority compared to the 11th General Election in 2004 (‘11 GE’), having lost the State Governments of Kedah, Kelantan, Penang, Perak and Selangor. It must be acknowledged that the outcome could have been much worse for the BN if not for the solid showing from Sabah, Sarawak and Johor. Had it not been for the above three States, the BN might not even have received the simple majority needed to form the Federal Government.

I am sure that Datuk Seri and the other senior leadership of the BN are receiving analyses and feedback from various sources as to why the BN did so badly and I hope that these sources are telling Datuk Seri the truth and not merely something that Datuk Seri wish to hear. If Datuk Seri really wants to hear the truth for what has been termed as the ‘swinging of votes’, the most credible report or analysis should be from the ‘Special Branch’ or ‘Cawangan Khas’ of the Polis DiRaja Malaysia (‘SB’).

In the days running up to the 12GE, various leaders, including Datuk Seri have stressed on the importance of the so-called ‘Silent Majority’ votes and that the ‘Silent Majority’ must exercise their votes wisely. It is fair to say that the vast majority of the so-called ‘Silent Majority’ that Datuk Seri and the media are referring to, consist of mainly Chinese voters and the balance being the Indian voters and the well educated Malay voters. I wish to inform Datuk Seri that the ‘Silent Majority’ has spoken in the 12GE.

I belong to the ‘Silent Majority’ and wish to give Datuk Seri an honest analysis for the reasons for the ‘swinging of votes’ to the various Opposition parties. Before we go to the 12 GE, we need to go back to the 10th General Election in 1999 (‘10GE’) and the 11GE. Following the controversial sacking of the then Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (‘DSAI’), the support of the Malay votes was extremely divided between Umno and PKR and PAS.
The leadership then knew that if the BN was to have any chance of retaining the magic two-thirds (2/3) majority, it needed the votes of the ‘Silent Majority’ and to a greater extent, the votes of the Chinese and Indian votes.

The leadership then published a series of advertisements highlighting what was happening in Indonesia which was then plagued by the Asian Financial Crisis and was under severe racial unrest. As expected, the ‘Silent Majority’ voted for the BN and despite losing Kelantan and Terengganu, the BN was returned to power. However, it must be stressed that the Silent Majority’ believed that they were ‘frightened’ into voting for the BN and we very unhappy by the printing of the series of the advertisements; that after 30 years since 1969 and 42 years of Merdeka, the Chinese and Indian Community did not deserve such treatment.
It is a matter of fact that if not for the ‘Silent Majority’ votes, the outcome of the 10GE would have been very different. Now to the 11GE. With the retirement of the longest serving Prime Minister of Malaysia, then Datuk Seri Mahathir Mohamed (now Tun Dr Mahathir or TDM), the ‘Silent Majority’ looked forward to a new dawn for Malaysia and we were very captured by your slogan and promises to crack down on corruption and ‘Work with Me, not For Me’. Hence, the BN was returned to power with a 90% majority in Parliament and recaptured Terengganu.
It is with disappointment that the ‘Silent Majority’ wishes to inform Datuk Seri that the BN has failed to deliver on the many promises made during the 11 GE. To understand the reasons for the ‘swinging of votes’, we must firstly understand the mindset of the voters. I will attempt to give a simple analysis of the Malaysian voters.

Malay - The Malay votes have been traditionally split between Umno and PAS. The Umno faction sees Umno as being the party that will continue to speak out to protect the rights and interests of the Malay community. Umno is the guardian and custodian of their religion, rights, language and culture and the Umno faction is traditionally loyal to Umno (save for the DSAI issue during the 11GE).

The PAS faction see PAS as being the guiding path to the afterlife. The promises of development will not be able to attract these voters as they are extremely loyal to PAS and their ultimate aim is to see the setting up of Islamic State in Malaysia. (We will go to the issue of an Islamic State later).

There is a third faction within the Malay vote, albeit smaller than the Umno/PAS factions which is the ‘silent minority’. The ‘silent minority’ is well-educated and exposed to the world. The ‘silent minority’ feels that the current policies of the BN and in particular, Umno is outdated and that the New Economic Policy (‘NEP’) only benefits the elite. However, this ‘silent minority’ is not exactly comfortable with the Islamic State being promoted by PAS. The ‘Silent Minority’ is most likely to support PKR as an in-between Umno and PAS.

Chinese - The Chinese votes are split between the die-hard Opposition Parties (mainly DAP) and the ‘Silent Majority’. The DAP supporters see the need for an Opposition in Parliament as a check and balance against the Umno dominated BN and to continue speaking up for the concerns and plight of the Chinese Community. This faction will vote for the opposition no matter what is promised to them.

The majority of the Chinese votes consist of the ‘Silent Majority’. The ‘Silent Majority’ is also well-educated and sees the importance of having both Chinese representation in Parliament and in the Cabinet. The ‘Silent Majority’ shares many of the same concerns as the DAP faction; Chinese Education, freedom of religion and worship and economic opportunities. The ‘Silent Majority’ has been traditionally supporting BN but is known to swing, depending on the prevailing sentiments.

Indian - The Indian voters have been traditionally with BN. The Indians see the need for a strong representation in the Cabinet where their concerns and plight can be heard. The Indian voters know that they cannot survive as a stand-alone opposition party and hence, the need to stay with the BN. Both the IPF and the newly set-up MIUP have pledged support to the BN for this reason.

Within the Indian voters, also lies the ‘silent minority’ which is similar to the ‘silent majority’ in the Chinese voters. This ‘silent minority’ feels that MIC can do more for the Indian community and Samy Vellu has overstayed his welcome in the MIC. However, this ‘silent minority’ is still more likely to have voted for BN in past General Elections.

So what are the reasons for the ‘swing’ in votes amongst all the races? Removing Kelantan from the equation, the BN still lost Kedah, and which is the Malay heartland and also lost many safe seats in the Malay-dominated Federal Territory, namely Bandar Tun Razak, Titiwangsa and Wangsa Maju. The BN also lost Penang and Chinese areas in the Federal Territory and also lost in Indian seats such as Sungai Siput and Batu Caves.

The Malays, Chinese and Indian voters have different reasons for the ‘swinging of votes’ and I will attempt to give my lay-man classification.

Malay - The swing of the Malay votes can be attributed to a few factors such as:

(i) Rising cost of living, especially in the urban areas.
What matters to all average citizens is how much RM1 can buy. RM1 today buys much less than it could four years ago in 2004. This is the meaning of inflation to the average citizen, how much they have to pay for fuel, food and utility bills.

TNB, Syabas and the various highway toll companies continue to hike up rates. These companies make profits to the tune of hundreds of millions, if not billions of RM. Yet these companies, many of them Government Linked Companies (‘GLC’) still feel justified to ask for an increase in rates and the BN Government allows such increase in rates which translates to even higher profits for the GLCs.
I do not wish to dwell in specific figures but a quick check with the Annual Reports of TNB, Telekom, etc which show that the profits of these companies have been increasing year-on-year and paying dividends to the shareholders, which includes the government, through Khazanah. But what about the people who are paying the rate increase - has the increase in rates benefitted them? The answer is NO, and as a result, the average working class people have less money to spend on food amongst others.
The BN Government has attempted to counter the rising cost of living by attributing it to global oil prices and throwing in impressive statistics such as 6.0% growth in GDP but all these are meaningless to the average citizens. The public transport, although slightly improved, is still no where near first world standards, where Malaysia aspires to be.
So, where has the increase price in fuel that we pay gone to? Honestly, Datuk Seri,has any of your family members ever taken public transport recently? You should ask them to go on a ‘field test’ for one month and report the findings to you.

The rising cost of living is a real issue and no amount of ‘GDP Increase’ is going to make it better when families go hungry and GLCs make more money. This dissatisfaction will translate into votes for the Opposition.

(ii) Inability of BN Government to fight corruption.

Datuk Seri’s main promise in the 11GE was to fight corruption. Despite many high profile cases being highlighted by certain newspapers, no action was taken or has been seen to be taken. Certain personalities whose public source of expenditure or wealth far exceeds their public source of income are still happily walking around as if all is well and fine.

When certain newspapers continue to highlight such cases of perceived corruption, such newspapers are labelled as unpatriotic and anti-establishment. But Datuk Seri, you asked for the citizens to ‘Work with you, not for you’ and to ‘Speak the truth because you have big ears’. But when the citizens speak, they get reprimanded.

When the Lingam Video Scandal broke, Datuk Seri had the chance to regain the people’s confidence and trust but alas, your advisers gave you the wrong advice. The Bar Council’s march was ignored and labelled as ‘trouble makers’ and the Bersih rally, the biggest since the days of ‘Reformasi’ was totally not reported by any mainstream media.

This had caused many voters to doubt the BN Government’s promise and caused many voters to ‘swing’ to the opposition.

(iii) The NEP.

As a Malaysian, I fully agree with the need for the NEP. The government must do its best to eradicate poverty irrespective of race or religion. Due to the previous economic policies of our colonial master, the Malays forming the largest part of the population are the most disadvantaged. Help must reach those in need but Datuk Seri, but the NEP today is seen to favour the ruling elite.

Despite 30 years plus of NEP, many Malays are still lagging behind the Chinese and certain segments of the Indian community. How can this be happening? This is a question that all Malaysians regardless of race or religion ask themselves. Why is the appropriate help not reaching the correct segment of the population after all these years?

The opposition has highlighted this, especially the urban poor, where condominiums costing RM1 million or more are just a stone-throw away from their modest low-cost flats. Also, in rural areas, why are the small holders and fishermen still living on the brink of poverty? Why have they not received the correct help?

Datuk Seri, there is a big perception amongst certain segments of the Malay community that the NEP only benefits Umnoputeras and not bumiputeras. This has perception has also caused many Malay votes to swing to the Opposition parties.

(iv) The DSAI factor.

With a doubt, DSAI was a big ‘pull factor’ and the BN Government’s attempt to label DSAI as ‘irrelevant’ and even get people like Chandra Muzaffar to discredit DSAI only backfired. DSAI is a charismatic leader and there isn’t anyone in Umno which comes close to the charisma of DSAI. DSAI managed to convince many Malay votes to swing to the opposition, be it PKR, PAS and even DAP.

Chinese

(i) Rising cost of living, especially in the urban areas.

Their concerns are the same as the Malays as highlighted above, so I won’t repeat in again but contrary to popular belief Datuk Seri, not all Chinese are rich and drive German cars and go to university. Just go to any car workshop or tyre shop. There you will find many Chinese youths, many dropping out after PMR or just after SPM, struggling to earn a living. This dissatisfaction will translate into votes for the Opposition.

(ii) Creeping Islamisation.

Islam as the official religion of Malaysia will never be disputed but statements from the senior leadership has gotten non-Muslims in Malaysia confused, that Malaysia is already an Islamic country (or Islamic State). Since the statements were made, the non-Muslims have been asking themselves one question, ‘If Malaysia is already an Islamic country (or Islamic State), then what is wrong with voting for PAS?’

In addition, certain issues involving religion was handled very badly such as:

(i) The banning of ‘Allah’ from being used by non-Muslims.
(ii) Seizing of Bibles.
(iii) Body snatching.
(iv) Cases involving Syariah and Civil Law.

There needs to be clarity and justice in these issues. Non-Muslims are not questioning the position of Islam but justice must be done and be seen to be done. The Director-General of Institute of Islamic Understanding wrote a very good article on Islamic Justice. Datuk Seri, if only the ‘Little Napoleons’ in the lower levels of administration displayed such wisdom as Dr Syed Ali Tawfik Al-Attas.

In addition, the national schools are being controlled by numerous ‘Little Napoleons’ and these ‘Little Napoleons’ have implemented certain policies which many non-Muslims find very offensive. Please refer to Lim Kit Siang’s blog for more information. It’s all displayed there.
The Government says that these ‘Little Napoleons’ do not represent the views of the Government and overstepped their authority but little or no action is taken against such ‘Little Napoleons’. If action has been taken, then it was no reported and thus giving the perception once again that such action is privately condoned by those who walk the corridors of power.

(iii) Inability of BN Government to fight corruption.

As above.

(iv) Rising crime.

There has been increase in crime especially snatch thieves. The Chinese community acknowledges that the PDRM are trying their best but it just seems that not enough action been done to combat such crimes.

Perception is sometimes more important than the truth. A politician must not only be clean but must also be seen to be clean and action must not only be taken but must be clearly seen to be taken. Unfortunately, this is not the case.

(v) Perceived lack of economic and education opportunities / NEP.

As mentioned, the Chinese community acknowledges the need for the NEP. What the Chinese community wants is some degree of fairness, that despite additional help been given to the Malay Community, the Chinese community will not be deprived of their place under the sun.
However certain ‘Little Napoleons’ have taken the NEP one step further to say that ‘only bumiputeras can do certain type of business’ with the Government or Government agencies and so on. Where does this leave the non-bumiputeras? Not all non-bumiputeras are rich Datuk Seri; most of us are just making a living and hoping that we can give our children a better future.

(vi) The ‘Hang Tuah’ factor.

Malaysia has celebrated 50 years of Merdeka and all Malaysian Chinese consider themselves to be patriotic Malaysians. We pay our taxes and many of us serve in the Civil Service. So, the Chinese Community does not understand why the delegates in the Umno Assembly say things like the ‘Chinese (and even Indians) are pendatang’ and ‘darah’ and so on. It is particularly even more offensive when Umno Youth goes ‘Hang Tuah’.

This topic has been discussed and explained many times but to put in plain and simple; each time Umno Youth goes ‘Hang Tuah’, they will not get a single extra vote from the Malays because, the Umno faction will continue to vote for Umno and the PAS faction, for PAS. The ‘silent minority’ in the Malay voters will also not be impressed by such antics.
However, such antics will cause the Chinese Votes, especially the ‘Silent Majority’ to sway to the opposition. After 50 years of Merdeka Datuk Seri, the Chinese and Indian community does not deserved to be threatened this way.

Datuk Seri has repeated said that such views do not represent the views of the Government but merely been caught up by the moment, but Datuk Seri, such words are seditious and bordering on inciting racial unrest; the Internal Security Act should be used and has been used in the past against lesser offences. The lack of action once again gives rise to the perception that such antics are privately condoned by those who walk the corridors of power.

Indian

(i) Rising cost of living, especially in the urban areas.

It may be true that an Indians represent a very high percentage of lawyers and doctors in Malaysia but all these are meaningless to the average Indian. So what if Maxis, Astro are controlled by an Indian. To many Indians, especially those displaced by the sudden closure of estates, they feel that they have been let down by the MIC and the BN Government. Help must reach this segment of the population. The NEP is to help all citizens, regardless of race or religion but not enough help has reached this segment of the population.

(ii) Creeping Islamisation.

Similar to Chinese above.

(iii) Inability of BN Government to fight corruption.

Similar to the Malays and Chinese above.

(iv) Perceived lack of economic and education opportunities.

Similar to (i) above.

(vii) Rising crime.

The Indian community has been hit by a double-whammy by rising crime. There has been an increase in violent crimes committed against the Indian Community and by the Indian Community. The increase in crimes committed by the Indian Community is due to urban poverty although committing a crime can never be justified, even by urban poverty. The Indian community also feels that they have been subject to profiling by the PDRM (rightfully or wrongfully).

There needs to be more community-friendly crime prevention measures by the PDRM and the Indian community so that the Indian Community does not feel alienated or victimised.

(v) The Hindraf factor

Without a doubt, the Hindraf factor is the biggest reason for the decline in support for BN among the Indian community. The issue of temple demolishment was handled wrongly, and the apology from the Deputy Prime Minister is just not enough. First it must be acknowledged, that building of places of worship must be in accordance with the Law. However, certain buildings existed before the Law was created and time must be given to such temples to comply with the Law.
Even if time has expired, great sensitivity must be shown before such places of worship are demolished and action must be taken against ‘Little Napoleons’ who show insensitivity.

What’s next?

In order for the BN to win back the trust of the Malaysians, the BN must prove that it represents all Malaysians. Datuk Seri Lim Keng Yaik also gave very frank advice which was reportedly widely in all the newspapers on March 11. Please do read..

Politicians, especially senior leaders, must be humble and acknowledge that it is the rakyat that has given them the Mandate and they are answerable to the rakyat. Leaders who are on borrowed time should step down gracefully.

Malaysia has celebrated 50 years of Merdeka and its time to look beyond racial politics. Datuk Seri, the NEP was initially created to help all poor Malaysians, regardless of race or religion. Granted that there are more poor bumiputeras, so more help must go to helping bumiputeras.
The non-bumiputeras in Malaysia recognise the Special Position of the Malays and will never question that Special Position but the NEP was not created to ensure that all listed companies have at least 30% Bumiputera equity or to give discounts to properties costing more than RM1 million. That is not the sprit of NEP. The NEP was created to help the poor, not to make the rich get richer.

In the era of globalisation and increase competition, the BN, and in particular Umno, must talk about ‘how to create wealth’ and not ‘how to distribute wealth’. Then, and only then, can we compete in the global arena.

May God give Datuk Seri the strength, wisdom and courage to continue leading Malaysia and bless Malaysia and all her citizens.

1 comment:

Gardagami said...

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