The Malay middle ground: Pakatan has most to gain

— Liew Chin Tong
The Malaysian Insider
Jun 27, 2012

JUNE 27 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is writing Barisan Nasional’s political obituary by focusing on micro electoral targets while refusing to confront macro policy matters.

The window to call election before the month of Ramadan has come and gone. The next possible window, which starts from September, is small and very much constrained by the Hari Raya Haji celebration on October 26, Deepavali festival on November 14, and the subsequent annual year-end floods.

Having sounded the war drums for at least two years since 2010 and making it very loud since late last year, Najib was visibly scared to pull the trigger at last, to the chagrin of many Umno leaders who want to get over it and done with.

As Najib calibrates his perfect moments, which I believe have long gone and will never return again, the nation was left in a lurch with numerous policy paralyses, flip-flops, and stalemates.

Lately, we were told that a consolidated intelligence report shown that Barisan Nasional has 80 seats in the bag and was close to winning another 50 seats, giving it 130 seats or a majority of 18 seats.

The police’s Special Branch, we were told, puts the figure at 118, which is a bare six-seat majority. To form the federal government, 112 out of the lower house’s 222 seats are required.

The numbers have clearly spooked the ruling party, especially Najib’s inner circle. For the rest of Umno, as long as Barisan Nasional remains in power, their high society lives go on.

But for Najib, a victory is not enough. He has set for himself a high bar — to win with a two-thirds majority or at least to win back the state of Selangor for Barisan Nasional; preferably both.

He doesn’t want to be remembered as the worst-performing PM — a record held by his predecessor Tun Abdullah Badawi, who lost Barisan Nasional’s two-thirds majority in Parliament and five states to Pakatan Rakyat.

It is, hence, amusing to see Najib talking about “14–0″ — that Barisan Nasional would win all 13 states plus the majority of Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur.

Najib is obsessed with micro electoral targets to the extent of trying to keep “winnable” retirees such as Abdullah Badawi and former MCA Presidents Ong Ka Ting from retirement.

He visits each and every one of the swing seats in an attempt to rub some of his perceived popularity onto BN candidates there.

And all government resources are channelled to buy favours from voters of various “swing” segments of the population. But he is just seeing the trees and missing the beautiful Malaysian rainforest altogether.

Malaysia is a multiethnic nation. Any coalition that fails to take the centrist posture to convince sufficient number of non-Malay and non-Muslim voters would face defeat.

Allowing Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Utusan Malaysia, Perkasa as well as other instantly-formed racist groups a free hand to set the agenda and hold the government hostage will only alienate more voters, including moderate Malays.

Failure to deal with the aspirations of Malaysians to see a more open, fairer and democratic society will dissipate middle class urban supports. The tear gas and water cannon at Bersih 2.0 and 3.0 are turning passive concerned citizens into frontline activists against Barisan Nasional.

Finally, it is clear that in most of the opinion polls over the past three years, 60 per cent of the Malays are aware of how corrupt Umno is, but only around 45 per cent are ready to vote for Pakatan Rakyat.

If only the mass media stops behaving like the Soviet-style propaganda machine.

There exists at least a 15 per cent middle ground among the Malays that will either be pushed to Pakatan Rakyat if Umno is seen as totally hopeless in reforming itself or be pulled by Pakatan Rakyat if it comes up with credible alternatives.

Those are fundamental issues determining the next election but Najib’s obsession for his personal legacy somehow misses them completely. — The Rocket

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 28 June 2012 - 11:05 am

    I thought PR has already won the middle ground. The problem in Malaysia and PR, there is a lot of people who are not in ‘the middle ground’. 40% of household earn less than RM1,500 per month. More important, most of the voters in more than 50% of constituency earn that and are not connected to the internet.

    Najib’s strategy of ‘cheat & buy’ election really has only one forseable point of attack this late in the game – and that is the ‘buy election’ part. Felda’s ‘durian runtuh’, BR1M and others etc. – the only real way to knock those down scandals – the NFC kind, the Scorpene kind – that coupled with reminding the voters – all those ‘goodies’ come with a price of higher direct and indirect taxes eventually should work for PR..

  2. #2 by yhsiew on Thursday, 28 June 2012 - 11:17 am

    ///The tear gas and water cannon at Bersih 2.0 and 3.0 are turning passive concerned citizens into frontline activists against Barisan Nasional.///

    “They ban everything” – these are the words of an angry young man who took part in Bersih 3.0. Najib should take hints from the words of this young man to find out what is wrong with the government.

  3. #3 by Godfather on Thursday, 28 June 2012 - 11:22 am

    MIC has come out to chastise the id!ot MP who called for Ambiga to be hanged. No other BN representatives came out to say it was wrong, uncalled for, and the id!ot MP is still happily enjoying his coffee at Parliament lobby. Why is this so ? Anyone who calls for someone to be hanged for having a different opinion has to be chastised appropriately. Not “it’s not the UMNO position, it’s his personal opinion”.

    Bolehland is run by so called leaders with no guts, no leadership, no commonsense and no sense of decency.

  4. #4 by Jeffrey on Thursday, 28 June 2012 - 11:41 am

    ///Any coalition that fails to take the centrist posture to convince sufficient number of non-Malay and non-Muslim voters would face defeat./// This is already evinced by 308 election. Somehow UMNO cannot balance its ethnocentric platform/ideology with the so called centrist posture. It appears to have given up leaving the major component BN parties like MCA Gerakan & MIC in somewhat of a dilemma on how to garner their respective shares of the non Malay votes in coming GE that will determine if its ethnocentric/communal approach (with a lot of money being thrown at many sectors from school children to Felda settlers/taxi drivers – without meaningful contribution from other BN parties- will carry the day. In that sense GE 13 is the watershed – the make or break- in determining what really counts to many or majority of voters (communal sentiments & money versus principles of governance) and which the governance of the nation (whether more centrist or pro one race) will take.

  5. #5 by Bigjoe on Thursday, 28 June 2012 - 4:15 pm

    Sri Gading gives a good example of why focusing on the middle ground is simply NOT going to do it for PR.

    The likes of extremist like Sri Gading and many in Perkasa takes very little from us directly but, the position the likes of Sri Gading takes, makes it possible for the many more that don’t mouth it but takes a lot more of our material and social wealth.

    Najib says to ignore the likes of Sri Gading but he himself is behind theft of hundreds of millions and other abuses based on what the likes of Sri Gading stands for and does. Vast amount of our material and social wealth has been taken from us because the likes of Najib & Mahathir uses the likes of Sri Gading and Perkasa as excuses.

    So we have to attack uncomprisingly the likes of Sri Gading even if they are the fringe – so that we can get to the likes of Najib & others that engineer behind them that really cost us..

  6. #6 by monsterball on Friday, 29 June 2012 - 6:36 am

    Najib is trying to please Malaysians with actions and deeds and simultaneously need to back off because it he goes full swing…it is in fact helping PR when corruptions and murders are being exposed…one by one again.
    They keep ignoring and so many cases never gone more than just filing for a court case and totally forgotten. or drag and drag to be incomplete court cases….until after 13th GE.
    Ling will be free to protect Mahathir.
    The masterminds who instructed Atlantuya to be killed…not important.
    The disappearing of the immigration record …..not important.
    Teoh Beng Hock case closed closed closed. Yell as much as you like….no more actions.
    They are all powerful again..and corruptions …most welcome.

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