After Sarawak setback, what next for BN?

The Malaysian Insider
April 18, 2011

KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 — Barisan Nasional (BN) lost significant ground in its stronghold of Sarawak during Saturday’s state assembly election, setting the stage for a shift in government and economic policy as Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak works to regain support.

The government recorded its worst performance in 24 years in the poll in a result analysts say reflects the mood across the country, which could prompt Najib to switch tack in his plan to recapture the ethnic minority vote and restructure the economy to catch up with Asian neighbours.

In Saturday’s poll, the opposition won 15 seats in Sarawak’s 71-seat state legislature, giving the ruling BN coalition a two-thirds majority. But it was the coalition’s worst performance in Sarawak since 1987 when it won only 25 of 45 seats.

Following are questions and answers on how the poll outcome could reshape Malaysian political and financial policy.

Was it a big win for Najib?

Not really. BN won 77 per cent of seats in the 71-member state legislative but the opposition increased its seats to 15 from the 7 it won in the last polls in 2006, a major feat in a state where the ruling coalition has always held near total political dominance.

Mainstream domestic media mostly hailed the BN’s performance as a major win, although most newspapers also warned of a further erosion of support.

“With the opposition emerging as an even stronger player in (Sarawak) and willing no doubt to use its greater share of state seats to build support for the next general elections, there is a great need to take stock,” the pro-government New Straits Times said in an editorial.

How will Sarawak affect Najib’s general election timetable?

A general election is not due until 2013. Some analysts had said a strong showing in Sarawak might have tempted Najib to call an early poll this year. That now looks unlikely.

“We maintain our view that the general elections will be held in 2012 rather than 2011,” Credit Suisse Research said in a strategy report today.

What is at stake?

Complaints about ethnic and religious discrimination were a major source of voter discontent in Sarawak which helped the opposition to gain ground.

Ethnic Chinese and Indians, who make up about a third of Malaysia’s population, complain that their rights have been increasingly eroded as the government panders to the wishes of majority ethnic Malays.

A squabble over the government’s seizure of Bibles, allegations of racist slurs by government officials and a dispute over the right of Christians to use the word “Allah” have all fanned ethnic minority anger.

Najib needs to regain the trust of ethnic minorities as Sarawak and neighbouring Sabah, which both have a sizeable non-Malay population, hold the key to national power. The two states account for 56 seats in Malaysia’s 222-seat parliament.

What does Najib need to do, and can he pull it off?

Holding a general election later rather than sooner would buy Najib time to regain support but he would need to rethink his approach to economic reform. Instead of proceeding with fuel subsidy cuts and rolling out a goods and services tax, the government could seek other avenues to widen its revenue base without further denting popularity.

But a delay in cutting subsidies and boosting revenues could derail the government’s goal of further reducing its budget deficit. The deficit hit a 20-year high of 7 per cent of gross domestic product in 2009 before falling to 5.6 per cent in 2010 and is projected to be 5.4 per cent this year.

The Economist Intelligence Unit said Malaysia’s budget deficit would be 3.9 per cent in 2015, “somewhat above the level considered prudent”.

On the political front, any move by Najib to placate Chinese and Indians could anger conservative Malay Muslim groups which form a core support base for the ruling coalition.

A coalition of Muslim groups known as Pembela (Defenders) protested last Friday against what they said were excessive government concessions in talks with church leaders to resolve the Bible seizure row.

What are the implications for the opposition?

Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is expected to try to capitalise on ethnic minority discontent with the government to build on the support the opposition drew in the Sarawak poll.

Analysts say that with the Sarawak outcome, the three-party opposition alliance appears to have stemmed a recent slide in its popularity triggered by a spate of election losses and Anwar’s ongoing sodomy court case and his alleged involvement in a sex tape scandal, which he denies. — Reuters

  1. #1 by Richardqed on Monday, 18 April 2011 - 9:32 pm

    Although Pakatan took 45% of the popular vote, they didn’t win the 45% that mattered, which are those in the rural areas that would have translated to at least several more seats.

    Pakatan must use their own funds and sponsor their constituents with easy access to the internet, for their long-term benefit.

    – set up outlets for their constituents to get sponsored internet access.
    – set up more outlets at the edges of their constituencies so that voters from the neighbouring contituencies can be influenced too to view the alternative media and news.

  2. #2 by Winston on Monday, 18 April 2011 - 9:32 pm

    Uncle Lim, now that PR has established a beach-head in East Malaysia, it must push
    full steam ahead to expand it!!
    PR must not relax until it has reached Putrajaya!!!
    Keep up the good work!

  3. #3 by sheriff singh on Monday, 18 April 2011 - 9:39 pm

    What’s next? It is obvious what is going to happen next.

    Out comes all the multi-coloured pens to demarcate all the constituencies to perpetuate BN rule.

    Who knows? Ipoh Timor might be split into five constituencies with a camp put in each. And you will know what that means.

    Similarly, PJ might be split into new Utara, Selatan, Timor, Barat, Tengah and Belakang with a camp each. Who knows?

    So be prepared.

  4. #4 by born in Malaya on Monday, 18 April 2011 - 10:19 pm

    As a citizen of Malaysia and being treated with double standard race base government UMNO, it is time that people should vote this racist government out.

  5. #5 by ablastine on Monday, 18 April 2011 - 11:47 pm

    Although PR has just finished one battle, the war has hardly begun. In fact it is Sabah and Sarawak and not Penisular Malaysia which are more important for both BN and PR in the coming election. In Penisular Malaysia the electorates are reasonably better informed and not easily bought over with cheap money so no matter what dirty tactics BN uses its effect will be limited. Further Malay extremist groups like Perkasa with its Mamak together with corrupted UMNO warlords will continue to alienate the minority groups in Penisular Malaysia by their ketuanan rubbish playing into the hands of PR which advocate fair treatment for all. In my estimation if PR can win Penisular Malaysia it may still be prevented from taking Putrajaya because Sabah and Sarawak weight heavily in the final count. My point is PR will need to focus even more now in Sabah and Sarawak, penetrating deeply into the rural areas to spread the message of change to the voters. BN gerrymendering will back fire if even the rural folks learn of their treachery and the damage they have done to the country all this years. This because BN gerrymendering has increase the weightage of rural votes to insulate themselves against the urbanites who are most PR voters. So even the rural votes go to PR they are practically finished.

  6. #6 by pulau_sibu on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 - 4:41 am

    SUPP Central committee recommended the two Chinese YBs to reject the cabinet position?? but Soon Koh already rushed to the installation ceremony as a minister.

    Same as Taib who rushed to Astana to become the Chief Minister.

    What was wrong here? Possible coup and hijack every where?

    I think even if there will be no Chinese minister, Taib and BN should be able to run a fair government. The issue is really not about the ministers of any race, but about the fairness and capabilities of BN.

  7. #7 by yhsiew on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 - 5:33 am

    The main reason why the Chinese turn to the Opposition is because of the NEP (although high-profile corruption also plays a part).

    If Najib wants to win back Chinese support, he must speedily reform the NEP and take concrete action to ensure the goals of the NEM can be achieved.

    Najib should bear in mind that if BN does not reform, the raykat will reform BN.

  8. #8 by waterfrontcoolie on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 - 7:42 am

    We have cultivated the notion that Economic rights include ALL MEANS whether legal or illegal so long that they have been in practice, they should be accepted. Hence, APs for cars will continue for a long while; wasn’t Proton suppose to spearhead our car industry? what happen? they brought in ” OLD Japanese model” change the spelling and say it is our national car! here their Maruah is intact! it is equivalent to the old saying ” using someone’s backside to be your face! Money by any means; cheating, swindling and outright stealing are all considered legal so long that the Gomen has agreed to it!
    One can only leave them to build such society for their future generations! You can associate them to a large part of today’s US society; thinking printing greenbacks is their birthrights.

  9. #9 by buy election on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 - 8:00 am

    I mentioned about possible coalition government in Sarawak. It seems that no boy wanted to discuss about this. Every one wanted to be the boss on his/her own. No body cared about the people first.

  10. #10 by dagen on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 - 8:23 am

    /// Ethnic Chinese and Indians, …, complain that their rights have been increasingly eroded …

    … seizure of Bibles, allegations of racist slurs … and a dispute over … the word “Allah” … ///

    Oh come come. Not those surely, umno. Dont even attempt to be politically correct. Its useless. Everyone knows the real umno mentality. So just be honest. Yeah. Be frank. Just say it. Chinese (and Indians) voted pakatan because they are, yeah repeat after me – NOT GRATEFUL.

    Itu lah yg paling tepat sekali.

  11. #11 by dagen on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 - 8:30 am

    It was a toe-hold last time. Now it has become a firm two foot-hold. Bravo. Its a pity PKR and PAS did not do as well. Then again, look at the real experience in peninsular. PKR was not accepted by the people initially. It took PKR (wot?) 3 elections to sweep umno.

  12. #12 by Loh on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 - 9:21 am

    Mahathir’s words

    By Dr. Mahathir Mohamad on April 18, 2011 12:44 PM | Permalink | Comments (39) | TrackBacks (0)

    ///1. I would like to congratulate Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud, the chairman of Barisan Nasional in Sarawak for the victory achieved by the party in the recent election.

    2. Dato Seri Najib and Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin also deserves to be congratulated. The two were on the ground campaigning almost throughout the whole campaign period. They worked very hard and they had good supporting staff from the Peninsular as well as Sarawak.

    3. I congratulate the DAP for bringing its racist politics to Sarawak. Before this all races co-operated well with each other for the good of Sarawak. Now we see clearly that the Chinese community in Sarawak has rejected multi-racialism.///–Mamakthir

    The Chinese community rejected racism pioneered by UMNO which marginalized non-Malays including those in Sarawak. The Chinese there are smart enough to know that to prevent racism further harm the nation they have to tell UMNO that the racist policies are not acceptable to Sarawakians. The only way they can show UMNO is to reject Barisan Natsional candidates. SUPP is the unfortunate scapegoat.

    Only UMNO brought racist politics everywhere. Sabah is a clear example. The population in Sabah at the time of Malaysia formation in 1963 showed 23 per cent Muslims and they are mainly Bajaus. There were only 6,000 Malays, however defined, at the time of the 1960 census. NEWMalays, the so-called Malays in Sabah form 50% of Sabah’s population as shown by the strength of UMNO there. The balance of the 27 % making up 50% of Malays came through Project M. UMNO not only brought racist politics to Sabah, it changed the population mix in Sabah to majority-Muslim state. Sarawakians are weary of UMNO entering Sarawak, and the Chinese there are the first enlightened ones.

    All races in Peninsular Malaysia cooperated very well until NEP which was made possible by the coup d’etat after May 13. The book ‘Malay dilemma’ authored by Mamakthir pointed the way to Ketuanan Melayu. Yet Mamakthir has the guts to talk about history at the time when all races in the country cooperated well for the good of everybody.

  13. #13 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 - 9:28 am

    Dis is d kind of M’sian dat UmnoB/MIC n Perkosa happily get rid of, shoooooo
    Another proof dat 1M’sia exports human talents n intellectual capital, besides oil, tin, rubber, condoms, manufactured goods

  14. #14 by k1980 on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 - 9:34 am

    What next for postal votes?

    SUPP’s highly disputed win in Senadin is still a sore point with the opposition PKR. PKR candidate Dr Michael Teo lost the seat to SUPP’s Lee Khim Shin by 58 postal votes.

    Of the 1,134 postal votes, Teo, who plans to lodge a formal protest with the Election Commission (EC), secured 54.

    Lee obtained 7,334 votes to defeat Teo who garnered 7,276.

  15. #15 by Loh on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 - 9:49 am

    Continued-Mamakthir’s words

    ///4. Perhaps the SUPP are at fault but others in the BN also committed many wrong things. But the rejection is almost entirely by the Chinese community.

    5. They have become infected by the virus of Chinese racism that is the guiding principle of the DAP. In the past DAP was almost totally rejected in Sarawak.///–Mamakthir

    The Chinese votes in the constituencies where DAP was in straight fight against BN. If they reject BN, they only have DAP to vote for. The Chinese see clearly the faults of BN. Other voters in rural areas were deceived. The results show the BN had no moral authority to claim victory over the election.

    Mamakthir pretended not to realize that BN bought the voters and the election results. Fortunately money cannot change the mind of voters in urban areas. UMNO’s guiding principle is Malay racism. That is why only Malays or those who pretend to be Malays are members of the party. The cancer of Malay racism in UMNO is the cause of BN’s defeat in Sarawak in areas where the voters know the true colour of UMNO.

    Taib Mahmud was younger to resist UMNO in the past, and the voters there were quite happy to allow Taib Mahmud some excesses. UMNO now is forcing Taib to leave and a lesser person could be bought by UMNO.

    ///6. The DAP will talk about Malaysian Malaysia i.e. Malaysia for all Malaysians. But its appeal had always been to the racialist sentiments of the Chinese. Those Chinese who reject the DAP seem to be considered as non-Chinese by the DAP.///–Mamakthir

    The appeal to Malaysian Malaysia is for everybody who wants equal rights. That includes people of all races, including Malays. When it appeals also to Chinese, the Chinese do not harbour racialist sentiments in supporting the concept that all citizens are equal. Those who did not vote for Malaysian Malaysia are the so-called component parties of BN. The leaders of those subordinate BN parties are in politics to make money at the expense of other non-Malays. The Chinese in general do not consider those running-dogs Chinese. DAP does not form that opinion as claimed by Mamakthir.

    ///7. Malaysia faces a grave danger of being divided by two parties – one Malay dominated by default and the other Chinese by choice. This will not be good for Malaysia. But this is what the DAP is striving for. A two-party system based on race will not contribute to stability much less national unity.///– Mamakthir

    A two-party system provides check and balance. The ruling parties did not have to pursue racist policies since they have all races included in the coalition. Yet UMNO chose to make the government for Malays by Malays at the expense of non-Malays. Since the Malays have been brainwashed with the concept of ketuanan Melayu which allow them rewards without working, and the latter’s vote bank offer UMNOputras protection against corruption, the country has been polarized by race. What happens in the country is the creation of UMNO in the past 50 years. The opposition DAP cannot form the government without Malays’ support. So the two-party system is divided into the evil racist BN and the anti-corruption righteous Pakatan Rakyat. Malaysians are yearning for a change of government so that the ideals of Tunku can be fulfilled.

  16. #16 by Cinapek on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 - 9:52 am

    “…Holding a general election later rather than sooner would buy Najib time to regain support ..”

    He also needs to close the TBH case in the Govt’s favour as this will continue to haunt his BN Govt because of the strong Chinese sentiments on the ground that TBH was made to pay the ultimate price for just being in the Opposition.

    The other issue the BN needs to close is Anwar’s sodomy II case. They need to wrap this up and lock Anwar away before any GE. This hopefully will cause PR to fall apart and be easier to dispose off.

  17. #17 by dcasey on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 - 11:11 am

    The Mamak father and son team are working on over-drive mode to spew viral poison and racial threats to the Chinese in general and the DAP in particular.

    “The Chinese community (i.e. DAP) have become infected by the virus of Chinese racism” – Mamakthir.

    “Urban Chinese who shunned Barisan Nasional in the Sarawak election will be the ultimate losers” – Mukhriz Mamakthir

    So to the question – what’s next for BN? The answer is obvious ain’t it! More threats and even more racial polarity will be piled onto the Rakyat.

  18. #18 by monsterball on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 - 11:14 am

    That was a giant step forward for PR and particularly,,,DAP,
    Allthough the great leap was translated to be a great win for BN…to take off 8% from an election with so much unfair and unjust obstacles to cross…it is no easy task at all.
    The fact that Najib was there for one week…clearly showed his concern for a worst result…but it did not materialised.
    It becomes..slow and steady win the race for they are dealing decades of race …religion and massive corruption…making it a way of life for the vast majority poor…that are so used to survived based on so call generousities from their task masters. They have become slaves,,,,yet not realising that…for it is a way of life..decades.
    It will need the younger generations to be open minded …to read both sides of the stories and think…and not simple believe what they are told.
    The Sarawak State Election is a victory to free minds more than Najib or Taib dare to declare it is sweet victory for them.
    Yes a win is a win….no matter how small majority it is.
    But the signs os Malalysians wanting a change of government is very great.
    What is there to be proud about such a victory…after more than 30 years dirty politics…still struggling to get stronger and stronger?
    In short…Malaysians are getting smarter and that worries Najib…..when and what date is right for 13th GE.
    If he is so confident and hapy..Sarawak election…he would announce the date immediately after getting the results.
    The act that Mahathir is helping Najib now with his usual racists jargons…and blaming DAP splitting Malaysians..means UMNO B have great confidence..that majority Malaysians can easily be fooled.

  19. #19 by monsterball on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 - 11:16 am

    I wonder what I have written so wrong that my#14 comment is moderated.

  20. #20 by Loh on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 - 12:05 pm

    Continued-2 Mahathir’s words

    ///8. The presence of a few Malays in the DAP is just window dressing. It is the same as in Singapore where the PAP Government side lined their Malay supporters completely. The Malays make up 15 per cent of the island’s population but their share of political power and wealth of this very prosperous nation is about one per cent. Of course Singapore is ruled by Singaporeans. The same would happen in Malaysia should the DAP rule this country. It would be ostensibly Malaysian.///–Mamakthir
    How can true Malaysian be ostensibly Malaysian when Malays are not the government leaders? That is racist view. Sorry Mamakthir masquerades as Malay for personal gain and throwing away his race to the extent that he pretended that he did not know that his father came from Calitcut Kerela, India. So Mamakthir is racial opportunist. He makes this country racially polarized so that he could fish in trouble water.

    Some Malays are immune from the brainwash unleashed by UMNO through education considered that NEP has been unfairly over extended. They are accused of being ungrateful to ditch NEP after having gained from it. Through article 153 proportionately more Malays obtained scholarship for education overseas were not told to be grateful to Tunku. For it was for the national interest that those who have the aptitude are helped to attain their full potentials. Tunku government did not think that he owned personally the resources of the government. But Mamakthir said Malays are ungrateful when they opposed him as if any Malay who has succeeded in life owes Mamakthir their success. So Malays who know that NEP has been utilized for corrupt convenience loath to condemn NEP. Only very few Malays who are able to withstand the accusation of betraying their race would dare to become non-UMNO members. Besides as UMNO accuses DAP of being a party for Chinese, only brave Malays would ever become DAP members. They are DAP members to break the hold of racist party over Malaysians’ lives. Naturally not too many Malays are prepared to be DAP members. But Malay DAP members are not bought over by DAP to window-dress the party.

    ///9. I will be called a racist for pointing this out. For more than half a century the races in Malaysia had worked together to build the nation. The world saw stable BN Governments with power and wealth being shared by all races quite fairly. None of the races got everything that they considered they were entitled to – not the Malays, nor the Chinese, nor Indians, nor Ibans, Kadazans etc. All had to give up something. That is the essence of sharing.///–Mamakthir

    There are a few concepts that Mamakthir got it all wrong. The citizens who are law abiding do their part to build the country and the political leaders and those who administer the nation have the responsibility to ensuring rule of law was maintained. Unfortunately UMNO-led BN government has destroyed all the government institutions making Malaysia a failed-state accompli. Wealth is the creation and the property of the individuals and it is only communist regime, which Malaysia forbids, that gets involved in distribution of wealth. The government leaders elected by the people are to serve the country rather than shared among the elected leaders the power to loot the county. Mamakthir’s concept of people from all races sharing political power means that they share though unequally the opportunity to enrich themselves using official power.

    The government is not elected to feed the people through robbing Peter to pay Paul. The people are entitled to have their security looked after by the government, and they are entitled to pursue, within their own efforts, without deterrent by the government, to attain their full potential of their choice and to achieve happiness. The people, citizens of this country, do not have to give up anything other than criminal activities which are illegal. People share the defence of the country through their contribution in taxes. Chinese with 23% of the population pay 90% of the taxes. That is not the essence of sharing. Despite the higher per capita contribution Chinese are restricted by quota to enjoy on per capital basis equal to Malays.

    Mamakthir is not qualified to be called a racist as one who loves his race above all else. Mamakthir is a racial opportunist.

    ///10. Now the DAP has destroyed this power and wealth-sharing formula by separating the Chinese from the rest.///–Mamakthir

    The Chinese and other Malaysians are not separated by the results of the Sarawak election. DAP shows that the time of corrupted regime is soon coming to an end.

    ///11. Soon we will be holding the 13th General Election. I pray and hope that the Sarawak pattern is not repeated in this beloved country. Let us all think carefully whether we want to split up this country or we are prepared to sacrifice something of our own in order to maintain the stability and growth through the BN coalition.///–Mamakthir

    So the threat of May 13 is being raised once again. We hope that Mamakthir will not live to see the day of 13th GE so that he would not be able to influence the emergence of ugly incidents.

  21. #21 by tak tahan on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 - 1:28 pm

    This old sickening evil racist has Totally lost his few left over remaining dignity,pride and honour.Very shamefull creature to be associated with.

  22. #22 by tak tahan on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 - 1:29 pm

    Moderater in the heat again.

  23. #23 by johnnypok on Tuesday, 19 April 2011 - 2:56 pm

    Time for Sabah and Sarawak to pull out

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