PM seen stalling on reform after disappointing vote

Razak Ahmad
Apr 17, 11

Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak will likely put key economic reforms on ice as he tries to rebuild voter support after his ruling coalition recorded its worst performance in 24 years in a local election in a key stronghold.

Bets are largely off for a snap general election to take place this year, with Najib expected to rethink his strategy of promoting inclusive growth in the Muslim-majority multi-cultural nation to win back the minority vote, analysts said.

In Saturday’s state poll, Najib’s ruling National Front (BN) retained control of its stronghold Sarawak, which accounts for a fifth of its parliamentary seats, but the opposition more than doubled its seat tally as ethnic Chinese mostly voted against the government.

Structural economic changes such as further scaling back fuel subsidies, introducing a goods and services tax and reforming a decades-old race-based policy would be relegated in Najib’s list of priorities for now, analysts said.

“After the outcome in Sarawak, Najib will need a general election mandate before making any big moves,” said Ibrahim Suffian (right), director at the independent opinion polling firm Merdeka Center.

“Enacting fuel subsidy cuts and a goods and services tax will just add to the political issues that he will have to deal with ahead of the general election.”

The opposition won 15 seats in the 71-seat state legislature, giving the ruling coalition a two-thirds majority.

But it was its worst performance in Sarawak since 1987 when the coalition won only 25 out of 45 seats.

In the last state election in 2006, the opposition won only seven seats. On Saturday, the ruling National Front’s losses came mainly from areas dominated by ethnic Chinese, with its main Chinese party in the state losing 13 of the 19 seats it contested.

Little changed

Financial markets are expected to be little changed on Monday as past state elections have had minimal bearing on trade, although the expected delay in introducing reform could reinforce the stock market’s laggard position versus its neighbours.

Najib took office in 2009 pledging to woo investment, widen the country’s tax base with a goods and services tax and cut the country’s subsidy bill and budget deficit which hit a 20-year high of 7 percent of gross domestic product in 2009.

Once a magnet for foreign investment, Malaysia has lost much of its shine as its neighbours move faster in implementing reforms amid strong economic growth.

In a March report by Bank of America Merrill Lynch, Malaysia ranked as the second least popular market after Colombia among global emerging market fund managers and tied with India for least favourite among Asia-Pacific asset managers.

Analysts are uncertain about the timing for the next general election after the Sarawak poll although most agree that Najib was unlikely to call one this year, as he might have if he had won more decisively in Sarawak.

The Taib Question

The next general election is not due until 2013.

Asked whether the state poll would be a barometer for calling a general election, Najib was quoted by local media as saying: “No, this is only at state level. There are other things to consider at Sabah and the peninsula as well.”

Apart from highlighting ethnic minority unhappiness towards the government, the Sarawak poll has thrown up other political headaches for Najib including the retirement of the state’s long-serving chief minister Abdul Taib Mahmud.

The ruling coalition campaigned on a promise of Taib’s impending retirement to placate voters disenchanted with the state leader’s alleged corruption and nepotism. But analysts say Taib’s departure could create a leadership vacuum and increase political tensions ahead of national polls.

The poll result is also expected to help revive the People’s Alliance (Pakatan Rakyat) opposition headed by former deputy premier Anwar Ibrahim.

The Alliance has lost some traction of late as Anwar battles a lengthy court case involving charges that he sodomised a former male aide and more recently, that he was caught on tape having sex with an unidentified woman. Anwar has denied both allegations.

“With the opposition’s gains, a new political configuration of politics has emerged, an important factor for Najib to consider before calling for the next general elections,” said Johan Saravanamuttu, visiting senior research fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in Singapore.

– Reuters

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Monday, 18 April 2011 - 11:56 am

    He was NEVER going to move ahead with GST and price subsidy cut until after a GE. The issue is how is he going to have a successful enough GE that he CAN go ahead. Without a big win and that include getting Selangor back, he is not going to be able to move ahead EVEN after a GE.

    The choices for Najib to have a successful GE is getting narrower. He is NEVER going to get enough of the right conditions for a successful GE. He basically have only two choice – turn on the racist temparature and abandon the non-Malay vote AND/OR resort to massive cheating at the ballot box. Its as simple as that.

  2. #2 by yhsiew on Monday, 18 April 2011 - 11:58 am

    ///PM seen stalling on reform after disappointing vote///

    It proves that Najib’s 1Malaysia and inclusive reforms are no more than a gimmick employed to fish non-Malay votes.

  3. #3 by k1980 on Monday, 18 April 2011 - 12:07 pm

    His coming reform will be to extend the nep to year 3011.

  4. #4 by tak tahan on Monday, 18 April 2011 - 12:11 pm

    //Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak will likely put key economic reforms on ice as he tries to rebuild voter support after his ruling coalition recorded its worst performance in 24 years in a local election in a key stronghold.//

    No worry la..we still have until 2019 before go bankrupt so stall and put key economic reforms on ice or in cold storage.Come to worst economy situation,just ask apco to fly in frozen foods and canned foods.Besides Fatty Mah also can place calls to Saudi Arab for help.See!Najis already has everything planned out for canland.

  5. #5 by hallo on Monday, 18 April 2011 - 12:20 pm


    Oh Master dogs are turning short to withhold our supply (corrupted money)


    Oh Master we must get enough supply fast else we be eaten dogs are getting hungry


    Ok…GOOD as I told… seek the supply from oversea (loan) and release the supply (corrupted money)






  6. #6 by tak tahan on Monday, 18 April 2011 - 12:28 pm

    We Rakyat must determined to reject Umno comes GE 13.We can’t afford anymore delay by Najis’s flip flop policy or else it’ll be like the Titanic scene:You(canland) jump,we(canpeople) jump!Please don’t create Titanic part 2 for canland.

  7. #7 by habis on Monday, 18 April 2011 - 12:31 pm

    My bet is there will be no GE this year. Got to get APCO to creat more brainwashing sessions before calling for a GE.East Malaysia fixed deposit is no longer dependable unless drastic action is taken to destabilise the Pakatan Rakyat with more issues to distract the rakyat.Don’t worry you can depend on APCO to do it as funds will be available as the coalitions partners do their part as directed.More sleepless nights ahead for BN leaders.

  8. #8 by cemerlang on Monday, 18 April 2011 - 12:46 pm

    Animals have one tracked mind only unlike human beings who have multiple tracked minds. Well, nobody lives and lasts forever. Pharaoh. Hitler. Karl Marx. Saddam. Idi Amin. Marcos. You name it. Who can live past 150 years ? How many years did the former communist countries live in submission before deciding to think for themselves ? What do you want ? You think Singaporeans do not want their own change ? You cannot do much now that election is over. You can only leave it up to God. You have no control. But God has.

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

    There is now talk to appoint BN Chinese YBs. Can you believe it? BN has already hijacked the local councils and should return them to the people.

    Similar to Taib problem, the people are sick of Najib problem of distributing money during election. You help me and I help you! The people who do not want to be treated like a fool rejected BN.

  10. #10 by dagen on Monday, 18 April 2011 - 1:53 pm

    Now let us look at umno’s power base. I mention umno here because umno dominates everything and everyone whether in peninsular or in sabah and sarawak. Umno’s power base is not the natives or the malays. Not quite that, really, but actually more the fear, naiveness, misinformation (or lack of information), illiteracy, and blind pride/sentiments of these people (lets call these the F-factor, i.e. umno’s Phaaark factor). In other words, umno’s power base is both shallow and hollow. If umno does not crush this time, umno will definately collapse on its own sometime in future. That future time is actually approaching very quickly. For one thing, umno’s F-factor is age related. The F-factor binds only the older folks be they malays or natives. By comparison the young malays and natives are better educated and better informed. More importantly, they are well appraised of the real world of umno’s wonderland. So another five years, another crop of these young voters would emerge to replace the dissapearing crop of old voters. In the middle of it umno’s power base would effectively be eroded by 2 x the crop. What is worse. There is actually no way out for umno unless umno reforms. But umno cannot reform because umno does not want to reform. Umno does not want to give up the corrupt life-style it has been enjoying thus long.

  11. #11 by ch on Monday, 18 April 2011 - 2:02 pm

    Dear All,

    From my viewpoint, BN has failed to convince the majority Chinese on its policies moving forward and the Opposition particularly DAP benefitted from this as a result. Yes, the Chinese are fed-up with those empty promises and sugar-coated words thrown in by BN leaders as history has shown them that the ruling government is still very much race-based. However, the Pakatan Rakyat front should do some deep soul-searching as to how they would formulate strategies to win Malay votes as this is ultimately important in order to grab the federal government from BN. Unless and until a fool-proof and stand the test of time strategy is formulated among Pakatan members, I strongly doubt that BN will be tossed out. In fact, UMNO-BN is taking advantage of the recently concluded Sarawak election to convince the Malays that DAP is using PKR and PAS to further expand its control in Malaysian politics. Hence, the need for Malays to shun Pakatan Rakyat for the sake of Malay supremacy. Many of those rural Malays are taken in by these calls and are ready to tick for BN in the up-coming General Election. What are the strategies in hand for Pakatan Rakyat to counter BN on this? Has views been sought among leaders of Pakatan? If yes, then how effective could the strategy be? With the absence of the mass-media, I certainly believe this is going to be an up-hill task.

    PKR has a lot of homework to do following its dismal performance in Sarawak. The emergence of the sex-video, available to all and sundry on the internet might move public to form their own individual opinion on Anwar and could either work for or against PKR going forward. The sudden turn-around by Raja Petra and a host of other issues will remain to be resolved by Pakatan leaders.

  12. #12 by undertaker888 on Monday, 18 April 2011 - 6:02 pm

    He is going to choose the easiest way out. Now he is going to unleash perkasa dogs and utusan poodles to scare the Chinese into submission. all the Chinese can do is smile at these worms.

  13. #13 by born in Malaya on Monday, 18 April 2011 - 10:56 pm

    People should all wake-up and stop this racist government from taking away your rights as a Malaysian and also disuniting all Malaysian by categorising citizens with terms like :Bumis or Non-bumis.
    Vote for a Malaysian Malaysia government.
    Vote for corruption free government, vote for a government that do not depend on racism or bribe to gain support.

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