GE13: The state of the GE13 race

April 17, 2013

GE13: The state of the GE13 race

karim-raslan-ceritalahby Karim Raslan (04-16-13)@

Each of the states will experience the polls differently, with localised issues having a major impact on the way voters respond on May 5.

ALL politics is local. In the 13th General Election, this maxim will be all you need to understand the contest as it unfolds across Malaysia.

Whilst analysts will talk about trends sweeping the country, there will in factGE-13 be a series of micro-trends at work in the different states that will define these polls.

Through Facebook and Twitter, people have become drawn to ever-smaller communities of shared interest – whether driven by geography, culture, leisure activities or religious faith.

Traditional media have had a lot of catching-up to do to in this respect.At the same time, people’s expectations have changed. Much to Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s chagrin, a sense of “gratefulness” has disappeared along with the Sony Betamax video and Motorola handphones.

Voters are no longer willing to be mute recipients of government largesse, kissing the hands of their constituency representatives.Nowadays, local communities want a greater say in how policies are formulated and executed. Consultation is the buzz-word.

Because of this, each of Malaysia’s 13 states will experience the polls separately, with localised issues impacting the way voters respond. Uniformity will be a thing of the past.

I’ve outlined how the contest will unfold in Barisan Nasional’s three “Fixed Deposit” states of Sabah, Sarawak and Johor as well as three Pakatan Rakyat-held states – Selangor, Kedah and Kelantan.

In Sabah, the Barisan’s hold on power will be challenged by the intense dissatisfaction on the west coast, in particular at the way the alleged “Project IC” has come to haunt the state, especially in the aftermath of the Lahad Datu incursion.

A measure of the unhappiness is the call (swiftly rejected by Nazri Aziz, the caretaker de facto Law Minister) by the Barisan’s senior Kadazan leaders for all MyKad identity cards to be recalled and reissued.

Ultimately, however, a divided opposition – Pakatan Rakyat is up againstkitingan and yong Jeffrey Kitingan’s STAR and Yong Teck Lee’s SAPP – may negate all the furore and Sabah will remain a Barisan fiefdom. In Sarawak, while the towns are bubbling with opposition sentiment, the interior remains isolated and placid.

Limited access to information means that corruption allegations have minimal impact beyond the urban centres. Johor – and especially southern Johor – has become more similar to Singapore.

As the two economies have integrated, political cultures will also be shared and adopted with the Lion City’s increasingly demanding citizenry being the template for political activism.

Channel News Asia’s footprint plus the many tens of thousands of workers crossing the Causeway daily reinforce this trend.

A stupendous rise in the number of registered voters in the south of the state would also seem to indicate that the previously apathetic Singapore-bound workers now wish to exercise their democratic rights.

Moreover in Johor, development is no longer the issue. Iskandar Malaysia has assured everyone that growth will be constant.However, the public debate will shift to questions of equity: who’s getting what, where and how much?

KIt Siang2Finally, Pakatan’s bold push into UMNO’s heartland will feature a major showdown in Gelang Patah, if Mentri Besar Abdul Ghani Othman does stand against the DAP’s Lim Kit Siang.

Indeed, Ghani has long been the personification of Johor’s distinctive Malay identity.Should he win in this majority ethnic Chinese constituency, it will be a clear sign that local issues and a specifically plural Johorean appeal would have prevailed over the DAP’s nationally-crafted message.

Selangor is the great prize. As the richest and most populous state, Barisan Nasional has chafed at its inability to seize back this jewel.

Najib in doaA mark of the seriousness with which the Prime Minister views Selangor is his insistence on leading the state’s election charge personally.Independent minded, well-informed and distrusting, Selangor voters will be among the most difficult to satisfy.

Still, Pakatan should hold the advantage because of their more grounded approach while the state’s more rural areas – those beyond a convenient commute into the Klang Valley – will remain with Barisan.

A critical test challenge for UMNO will be the susceptibility of urban and suburban Malays to the party’s traditional political rhetoric as expounded by Dr Mahathir.

Azizan A RazakKedah has been a signal failure for Pakatan. Much of the state’s business community is aghast at the Mentri Besar Azizan’s lack of direction and poor leadership.

Chinese support for the PAS leadership has evaporated and Barisan stands a strong chance of winning the state back, as long as the spectre of internal Umno bickering and sabotage can be overcome.

PAS will suffer losses in Kelantan as voters tire of the state’s mismanagement and the growing drift under an ageing and ailing Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat.

With many slim majorities, a small swing to UMNO could see a cascade ofDatuk-Seri-Mustapa-Mohamed Parliamentary seats under the aegis of Datuk Mus­tapa Mohamad, the hard-working International Trade and Industry Minister.

What we could very well be seeing is not a national swing either way, but rather separate, individual swings either to Barisan or Pakatan.

This in effect may suggest that neither side will win an overwhelming advantage.Some may groan at this, but that’s the new political reality Malaysians will have to deal with.

As I’ve said before, the era of supermajorities are over and perhaps now the politicians will be forced to learn to work together.

11 thoughts on “GE13: The state of the GE13 race

  1. A few of my UMNO acquaintances are now saying that should they lose several ‘more’ states (i.e Perlis, Negri, Sabah, Perak), they are Okay with it – as long as they get to keep the Fed. My observation to them was this: If they can’t win the important States – it’s impossible for them to win the Fed.

    This greeted with hoots of derision, until i reminded them that the last Merdeka poll that UMNO inspired the confidence of 48%. They seem to believe in infantile polls, especially their own. I also think that Ku Nan might lose his bloomers in Putrajaya by a small margin to Husam. Any takers?

  2. This seems to be a rather cursory portrayal of the political outcome but I sympathise with the good prof that getting good uncompromised datas are very difficult in Malaysia. Also people say one thing and do another thing because of the police state mentality and the lack of hard hitting local opposition medias. The Malays are divided in three parts. The rural folks are ,including the marginalised Indian poor, easily bought or intidimated,. The Chinese are generally well off and they are going to make the difference, because they cannot be easily bought. With full stomach , peaceful revolution seldom materialises . The 70% Malays below the 3000 ringgit income level , as A K 47 puts it, can also be bought. We need a miracle for total change!

  3. My only wish is for GE 13 to be conducted safely and without any untoward incidences such as fights or even riots. I am banging on PDRM to carry out their duties diligently to keep the peace and to ‘nip’ any expected trouble ‘in the bud’. I also expect all party leaders, especially coalition leaders, to warn their members and supporters to stay away from trouble.

    It doesn’t matter to me whether BN or PR wins,and whoever wins, everyone, whether they are from the new government or whether they are from the opposition, must close ranks and move forward together to further build and develop the country in peace and harmony.

  4. CLF,

    UMNO people are arrogant and in a state of denial. They can’t see beyond their noses or the Ringgit signs. They are out of touch with the ordinary folks and can’t even fathom the sentiments of the wage earners. They have closed their eyes, ears and mouth. They don’t want to listen to others except the UMNO members who will forever tell them YB it’s all roses YB.

    The UMN O members close their eyes to the plight of the ordinary rakyat and have always threathen them with punishment if the voters don’t vote UMNO. See Kelantan as a living example.

    The UMNO members won’t speak out against injustice even if it’s staring at them in their face except when something happen to their family. Remember the ten pin bowler that was given probation for statutory rape because he has “potential” while another was sentenced and got the rotan because he’s just another joe.

    UMNO members are so proud of themselves in their Beemers and Merz. Easy come easy go, when out of funds go seek another contract. They make money out of the blood, sweat and tears of the migrant workers who come here seeking employment. They don’t feel anything charging these foreign workers thousand of Ringgit in fees.

    UMNO needs to taste what’s its like being the opposition where every issue brought up will be overturned by the Speaker as not urgent or important

  5. Yes, there are local set-backs in states like Kedah, Kelantan but truth is the larger national trend should put these pockets of back-draft back into the bottle. Anwar and Hadi must go back to these states during the campaign period to put push the back draft back.

    The big frontier for PR would still be Sabah fractured local politicians, reaching rural votes of Sarawak, and reaching Felda voters.. They need at least one of these things to go right it won’t be enough..

  6. A peaceful election, I doubt. One guy in Penang could still be lying unconscious in hospital now after he removed 1Malaysia flags from his premises. POLIS just said they are ‘investigating’.
    I’m more worried that UMNO Baru will bring in the tactics it employed in East Malaysia, massive frauds and ballot stuffing. Already I’ve heard from some immigrant workers that their compatriots are likely to vote in key battle states. Does that sound the alarm?

  7. A friend went to eat in a mamak shop yesterday and he asked a bangla and a nepali worker, are you going to vote? The answer – sure, we have IC and must vote! Guess we can expect a huge turn-out of these “illiegal citizens” especially when they have deliberately planned the GE on a never-before Sunday!

  8. I met Datuk Hussam Musa by accident in a lift going up to a food court in Putrajaya. I asked him “Macamana Datuk?” He replied “tough to win but I’ll try my best”

    I then asked him further, “if tough to win, why do you come and contest here…” and he gave me a sly smile that tells me he knew Putrajaya can be taken… I believe CLFamiliaris, you’re right in saying he will take Putrajaya!

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