In the past three days, I visited five state assembly constituencies in Johore – Skudai, Nusajaya, Pengkalan Rinting, Johor Jaya and Stulang – and I received one common message from the voters who had voted for Pakatan Rakyat in the 13th General Elections in May 2013: that they would not support Pakatan Rakyat in the 14th General Election if PAS reneges on the PR Common Policy Framework and unilaterally pushes for hudud implementation.
One of the greatest electoral breakthroughs in the 13th General Election in 2013 was the end of Johor as the Barisan Nasional “fixed deposit” state, as Pakatan Rakyat won five Parliamentary and 18 State Assembly seats – which nobody, whether in BN or PR, would have expected before the May 5, 2013 general election.
In fact, Pakatan Rakyat won 45.8% of the total votes cast in Johor in the 13th General Election, an if the redelineation of the electoral constituencies had been fair and democratic, Pakatan Rakyat would have denied the Barisan Nasional two-thirds majority in the Johor State Assembly with at least 25 and not just 18 State Assembly seats.
If Pakatan Rakyat is to have any chance of winning Putrajaya in GE14, we have to continue to strive to break new electoral frontiers. We cannot be satisfied with merely retaining the seats which we have now. We cannot stick to our traditional support base. This is the reason why DAP launched the Impian Malaysia, Impian Sarawak and Impian Sabah programs to reach out to voters in the rural areas.
While many people have cast doubt on the effectiveness of these programs in allowing DAP to win more support and more seats in future elections, starting with the upcoming Sarawak state elections, we have to think the seemingly impossible.
After all, no one thought that the opposition could capture the state governments of Penang, Kedah and Selangor before the 2008 General Elections. No one would have thought that Pakatan could win 5 parliament and 18 state seats in the BN stronghold state of Johor before the 2013 General Elections.
If someone in Johor had said that DAP could win 4 parliament and 13 state seats before 2008, they would be looked upon as an insane person. But here we are now, today, with 4 MPs and 13 ADUNs in the state of Johor.
However, DAP cannot do this alone. DAP cannot win Putrajaya by itself. We need our fellow PR coalition members to share a similar dream as us which is to break new electoral frontiers. In the state of Johor, PAS has to most to gain from breaking these frontiers.
PAS contested in the most number of seats in Johor among the PR parties. It contested in 8 out of 26 parliament seats and 31 out of 56 state seats. It won four state seats – N13 Sungai Abong, N15 Maharani, N21 Parit Yaani and N41 Puteri Wangsa – a historic number for PAS in Johor.
While it did not win any parliament seats, it came close. PAS won more than 40% of the popular vote in 3 parliament seats – P148 Ayer Hitam, P151 Simpang Renggam and P161 Pulai.
In the parliament seat of Pulai, PAS Vice President won 48% of the popular vote and was 3226 votes away from defeating a seemingly undefeatable incumbent in Nur Jazlan, the son of former Minister of Information, Mohamed Rahmat.
PAS won more than 40% of the popular vote in 14 state seats (other than the 4 which it won). The seats are – N3 Pemanis, N5 Tenang, N8 Jorak, N9 Gambir, N11 Serom, N16 Sungai Balang, N24 Senggarang, N29 Mahkota, N40 Tiram, N43 Permas, N47 Kempas, N49 Nusa Jaya, N50 Bukit Permai and N54 Pulai Sebatang. If PAS can capture just half of these 14 seats, Pakatan can even dream of winning the state government of Johor in the next general elections.
However, that dream is in danger of slipping away. There is no way that Pakatan can dream of gaining more seats in Johor, what more winning the state government, if we go on the current trajectory, with PAS reneging on the PR Common Policy Framework and unilaterally pushing for hudud implementation in the country.
Non-Malay voters in Johor are already feeling betrayed by the insistence of PAS president to push forward the hudud agenda, including proposing his own private member’s bill to legalise hudud. Indeed, by pushing forward this agenda, Hadi is putting in danger the 4 state seats which PAS currently holds, all of which have in excess of 40% of non-Malay voters.
There are many more pressing issues in the country and in Johor state which need urgent attention rather than the distractions of hudud.
The opportunities to break new electoral frontiers are still there provided all the three component parties in the Pakatan Rakyat reaffirm their commitment to the PR Common Policy Framework and do not break their promises as unilaterally pushing for hudud implementation.
If PAS is not prepared to reaffirm its commitment to the PR Common Policy Framework and stop unilaterally pushing for hudud implementation which is both against the PR Common Policy Framework and the PR principle of consensus in the highest PR decision-making process, then there is no way to regain public confidence and trust in PR, let alone increase further popular support as compared to the 13th General Election so as to form the Federal Government in Putrajaya and the Johore State Government.
(Media Statement in Gelang Patah at the end of six kopitiam ceramahs in five Johor Baru State Assembly constituencies in three days on Tuesday, April 28, 2015)