A note from Malaysian expert in Australia Dr. John Funston on 14th General Election

When I visited Canberra in my recent tour of eight Australian and New Zealand cities last month, a came across a note from a Malaysian expert in Austraia, Dr. John Funston, of the Department of Political and Social Change, College of Asia and the Pacific of Australian National University (ANU) whose preliminary studies showed that Malay support for UMNO in Peninsular Malaysia in the 14th General Election was only about 5% higher than support for Pakatan Harapan, and not 15% as had earlier been estimated by Merdeka Centre.

Polls analysis by Merdeka Centre have earlier estimated that some 95% of the Chinese and 70-75% of the Indian voters voted for Pakatan Harapan and a New Malaysia, while only 25 – 30% of the Malays voted for Pakatan Harapan and a New Malaysia.

Funston’s preliminary analysis is at variance with the earlier estimates that 35-40% of Malays voted for UMNO/BN, 30-33% voted for PAS and 25 – 30% voted for Pakatan Harapan in the 14GE.

This is a note from Dr. Funston which I saw when I visited Canberra last month:

“How was Malay support divided in this election?

“It must first be noted that virtually all comments on this refer only to the peninsula, as the Malay electorate is a minority in Sabah and Sarawak and do not necessarily represent the same interests as those on the peninsula. By my calculations Malay support for UMNO on the peninsula was about 5% higher than support for PAS and PH – 36.6% against 31.7% for both PAS and PH. This is indicated in the table below:

The Peninsula Electorate

Total vote 10,347,357
Total Malay 6,346,739 (61.34%)
UMNO vote 2,323,665 (36.6%)
PAS vote 2,012,381 (31.7%)
Other (PH) 2,010,693 (31.7%)

“It is true that the UMNO vote cannot simply be equated with the Malay vote for UMNO. Some of the UMNO vote would have been contributed by non-Malays, while Malay UMNO supporters in other constituencies would have expressed their support for UMNO by voting for other BN candidates.

“Not many non-Malays would have supported UMNO candidates — most estimates are that over 93% of non-Malays voted against the BN — but nor are many Malays likely to have supported non-UMNO BN candidates, as the massive defeats suffered by these candidates indicates.

“It should, moreover be noted that UMNO contested in nearly twice as many seats as other BN (106-59). I therefore assume that non-Malays supporting UMNO and Malays supporting non-UMNO BN candidates would approximately cancel each other out, and that the percentage vote for UMNO would remain around 36.6%.

“For the PAS vote it seems safe to assume that non-Malay support would have been negligible, so its share of the peninsula vote would have been around 31.7%.

“That leaves another 31.7% of the Malay vote unaccounted for, and this could only have been directed to PH.

“PH also had more Malays elected on the peninsula than UMNO – 51 of PH’s Malay parliamentarians were from the peninsula (PKR 26, PPBM 13, PAN 11, DAP 1) compared to 46 for UMNO. UMNO was soon reduced to 42 after 4 resignations.

“Cabinet is overwhelmingly Malay. 18 of its 26 members are Malays (69%), including the key posts of Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister.

“Parliament also remains a predominantly Malay institution. PH and UMNO Malays elected for the peninsula on 9 May totalled 97. To this must be added a further 10 Malays elected for BN in Sarawak, and 15 in Sabah (8 UMNO, 6 Warisan and one from PRK). In total 122 members of the House of Representatives are Malays, 55%.”

Funston’s note throws an interesting new light on the 14th General Elections in Malaysia.

After the great and historic result of the 14th General Election on May 9, 2018, when Malaysians returned to the great and noble task to build a world-class nation – not in the worst possible sense of being a global kleptocracy but, in the words of Bapa Malaysia Tunku Abdul Rahman in the early years of nationhood, to be “ a beacon of light in a disturbed and distracted world”, a New Malaysia is struggling to be born!

It is now five months since the great and historic result of May 9, 2018 when Malaysians, whether inside the country or in the worldwide diaspora, felt proud as Malaysians, unlike the previous few years when they were so ashamed about global kleptocracy and rogue democracy in Malaysia that they stopped identifying themselves as Malaysians to avoid embarrassing questions about the shenanigans of the Najib government.

It is however not possible to build a New Malaysia in 100 days or in five months, but it is important that the Malaysian ship of state make a critical turn of direction from a trajectory of a failed, kleptocratic and kakistocratic state to a trajectory of greater national unity, integrity, democracy, rule of law and excellence, setting a new course in nation-building towards a New Malaysia especially in the direction of public integrity, rule of law, democracy, good governance, greater transparency and economic justice.

The Pakatan Harapan Government has made this critical turn in nation-building in the past five moths, with the restoration of the doctrine of separation of powers where Parliament and the Judiciary are not subservient agents of the Executive or the Prime Minister, but equal branches of government.

We are now in the process of aiming for another world achievement – to transform a global kleptocracy into a leading nation of integrity, which must bring to book all leaders who had been guilty of monster crimes of corruption, abuses of power and money-laundering, especially in the 1MDB “kleptoracy at its worst” in the world.

We must not waste the “second chance” to reset nation-building policies to fulfil our national destiny to be a great nation, where we can leverage on the assets of the diverse races, religions, languages, cultures and civilizations which meet in confluence in Malaysia and form the basis for a new civilization based on the best values and assets of the world’s great religions and civilizations.

The great task to build a New Malaysia cannot be accomplished in 100 days or in five months, but will take a decade or two.

This is why Pakatan Harapan needs to win the 15th and 16th General Elections if the vision of right-thinking Malaysians is to be translated into reality, which means fulfilment of two conditions: increase of percentage of Malay voter support to about 50 per cent in the 14th General Election and sustaining the high support of non-Malay voter support for a New Malaysia which is good and fair to all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion, class or region.

This is also why the Port Dickson by-election on Oct. 13 is a very important building block in the great task of building a New Malaysia apart from returning Anwar Ibrahim, the Eighth Prime Minister-designate, to Parliament.

(Speech by DAP MP for Iskandar Puteri Lim Kit Siang at the Mentakab DAP Branch anniversary dinner in Mentakab on Saturday, October 6, 2018 at 8 pm)

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