There were three federal elections before ‘the’ one on 10 May 1969. They were in 1955, 1959 and 1964, and the contests were about the two major races vying for political power.
Malays enjoyed a disproportionate advantage because many Chinese inhabitants at that time were not citizens and thus ineligible to register as electors.
According to the 1957 census, the population of Malaya was 49.8% Malay and 37.2% Chinese; 1955 itself was not a census year. (Census years were 1957, 1960, 1970, 1980, 1991, 2000, 2010).
The ethnic breakdown of those registered to vote in 1955:
- 84.2 percent: 1,078,000 Malays
- 11.2 percent: 143,000 Chinese
- 3.9 percent: 50,000 Indians
- 0.7 percent: 9,000 Others
The big edge which the Malays possessed in 1955 was lost after the liberalization of citizenship during Merdeka. Between 1957 and 1959, a total of close to 910,000 non-Malays were enfranchized as citizens — a development which diluted the Malay voting strength although the community was roughly half the population in both the election years.
From being 84.2% of the electorate four years earlier, the Malays – now 57.1% of the electorate – saw the power of their vote drop steeply.
In 1959, there were some 764,000 Chinese voters or 35.6% of the electorate, which was a marked rise from the 11.2% of the previous GE edition.
Chinese in the urban areas voted predominantly for the opposition. The reduction of rural weightage gave another boost to the Chinese electoral strength.
The third general election took place a year after the formation of Malaysia which added more Chinese – Singapore’s. In 1964, following the entry of Singapore, Sabah and Sarawak, the country’s ethnic breakdown settled at an uneasy 46.4 percent Malays and natives, and 42.1 percent Chinese.
Singapore had conducted her elections separately in 1963.
In GE3, Malays were 50.1 percent of the population in relation to being 54.4 percent of the electorate.
Chinese, excluding the Singapore residents, were 36.8 percent of the 1964 Malaysian population.
Three months after the April general election in Malaysia, race riots broke out in Singapore between Malays and Chinese following a Maulidur Rasul procession in July 1964.
By the fourth general election, the advantage of the Malays had levelled off whereas the Chinese voting strength relatively increased.
In 1969, MCA contested 33 seats and lost 20 — a failure rate of 60.6%. In 2008, MCA contested 40 seats and lost 25 — a failure rate of 62.5%.
Therefore, going by ratio, the MCA of 2008 fared worse than the MCA of 1969 at the polling booth.
On May 13, 1969, MCA announced its withdrawal from the Alliance government.
Vis-a-vis the Chinese BN component party, the election of 2013 should not be compared to that of 1969. The comparable poor performance of MCA is rightly between 2008 and 1969.
In 2013, we’re talking Dino World for the MCA.
The 13th general election
There is a ‘Run up to the GE13’ analysis today in the Planet of the Monyets blog. The blogger Raja Monyet did an assessment on the comparative strengths of the political parties, namely DAP, Umno, PAS, MCA, MIC and PKR — listed in descending order according to most progress made since GE12.
I’ve summarized Raja Monyet’s assessment of the DAP below. For his evaluation on the other parties, please read at the source blog.
Raja Monyet wrote:
Summary of the Raja Monyet appraisal:
DAP is “a Chinese party to the core”.
- very strong among Chinese
- consolidated its appeal to Chinese voters after winning Penang
(B) Tactics and strategy
- clever, sophisticated campaigns
- sleek machinery
- most tactical of all the parties
(C) Party image beyond its diehard followers
- little progress in attracting non-Chinese supporters
- DAP = Lim Kit Siang = Chinese chauvinist (in the eyes of the bulk of the Malays)
- perception corroborated by Tunku Aziz’s departure as well as zilch Malay CEC members
- kalimah ‘Allah’ drama alienating Malay voters
(D) Forecast performance
- Will lose significant Malay votes
- Will win more urban-Chinese seats (both state & Parliament)
- Will make inroads in Johor, Sabah & Sarawak
- May lose some mixed seats in Perak & Negri Sembilan
(Monyet King assessment ends, Helen Ang resumes below*)
The Firster myth-making
That race relations in our past were as rosy as they’re portrayed in Yasmin Ahmad’s Petronas National Day TV ads is a myth peddled by the Firsters.
These blinkered Beyond Race opposition supporters have chosen to lay the problem of ethnic tensions alpha and omega at Dr M’s door. It merely smacks of the In-Denial Syndrome that they indulge themselves in.
The two majors races, the Malays and the Chinese, have always struggled for power against each other.
Umno and MCA representing both races respectively had previously managed to contain the tensions. That is until 1969 when it blew over.
Chinese vs Malay, no ifs
The general election scheduled for this year is a definite game changer. DAP will emerge the strongest Pakatan party in its aftermath.
Without doubt, the status quo will remain of Umno as the strongest. The Malay party currently has 77 MPs in our 222-seat Parliament. Its 34.7 percent share of Parliamentarians takes Umno far out in the field.
Post GE13, the scenario will be DAP vs Umno. There are no two ways about this.
DAP is “a Chinese party to the core” in Raja Monyet’s view and his is an opinion shared by many even should the Dapsters most strenuously deny it.
Umno is a Malay party — that’s what its name proclaims unequivocally.
The political equation is unavoidably Chinese vs Malay, head on.
Part 2 will follow with a look at the religious dimension.
* I’ve added the demarcation between Raja Monyet and my opinions, just in case some readers are “easily confused” (updated 10.50pm).