Zainah Anwar yesterday penned in her Star column a piece titled ‘Don’t chase after pyrrhic victories‘ (The Star, 24 June 2013)
Conceding that Malaysia is an “ethnically divided country”, Zainah holds the view that “no party could survive without inter-ethnic accommodation”.
I beg to differ.
Umno has demonstrated that despite the betrayal by MCA and Gerakan, the Malay party not only managed to survive the Chinese tsunami but even bettered its standing from the last general election.
“But the very political strategy that won Umno support in the rural areas and among other segments of the Malay community, cost Barisan support among the Chinese, Indians and Malays in urban and semi-urban areas.”
What Zainah is saying is that Umno’s “emotive appeal” concerning the erosion of Malay “special rights” – the strategy Umno purportedly used in the kampungs during the election campaign – had cost Barisan its support among the Chinese, Indians and Malays in urban and semi-urban areas.
While Zainah’s statement may be true pertaining to the Chinese voters, it is not true at all with regard to the Malay voters.
The fact is that Umno won back the states of Kedah and Perak (the silver state was lost to Pakatan in the March 2008 election). Umno could not have regained both states on the basis of winning rural seats alone.
In order to form the government in Kedah (see electoral map) and Perak, Umno had to also win most of the semi-urban seats. And Umno was forced to accomplish this feat after having to write off the Chinese votes while at the same time banking on a big enough Malay swing.
The election results prove the trend I’ve described above.
Below are the data.
Umno won the semi-urban state seats below:
- Pantai Merdeka (91.8% Malay voters)
- Bukit Kayu Hitam (89.0% Malay)
- Jitra (83.4% Malay)
- Tanjung Dawai (80.2% Malay)
- Bandar Baharu (77.8 % Malay)
- Kulim won by MCA (60.8% Malay)
The BN victories in these six semi-urban seats were due to strong Malay support as they are in Malay majority areas.
The semi-urban mixed seats that eluded the BN’s grasp were lost by the coalition Chinese and Indian component parties and not by Umno (with the exception of Merbau Pulas).
- Bukit Selambau lost by MIC (54.1% Malay, 19.7% Chinese, 25.5% Indian)
- Lunas lost by MIC (47.0% Malay, 28.0% Chinese, 24.6% Indian)
- Bakar Arang lost by MCA (43.9% Malay, 41.3% Chinese)
- Sidam lost by Gerakan (38.5% Malay, 40.5% Chinese)
BN lost these seats because Umno sacrificed them to its Chinese and Indian partners to contest.
Bukit Selambau was lost to a PKR Indian candidate by a slim majority of 530 votes, Lunas was lost to a PKR Malay candidate, and Bakar Arang and Sidam were both lost to PKR Chinese candidates.
The common denominator characterizing the four semi-urban mixed seats which the BN failed to win is the Chinese element (the constituencies had 20-40% Chinese voters).
The Pakatan winners in Kedah were two Chinese and one Indian as well as one PKR Malay who defeated the MIC man.
If Umno had been put to stand in the aforementioned four seats, it is most likely that its Malay candidates would have won the day for BN.
Therefore Zainah’s contention that the political strategy employed by Umno cost Barisan their support among the Malays in semi-urban areas is faulty. Her theory only holds true when applied to the Chinese electorate but is not really tenable when applied to the Malay electorate.
In a nutshell, Umno’s strategy worked successfully among the semi-urban Malay electorate in the west coast.
The same trend seen in Kedah was replicated in Perak.
Umno won in the semi-urban state seats below:
- Pangkor (69.8% Malay voters)
- Pasir Panjang (69.1% Malay)
- Manong (69.0% Malay)
- Manjoi (67.2% Malay)
- Bukit Chandan (66.8% Malay)
- Changkat Jong (62.3% Malay)
- Tualang Sekah (60.4% Malay)
- Hulu Kinta (60.0% Malay)
- Lintang (55.6% Malay)
To reiterate, Umno performed to order not only in its traditional rural bastions but in the semi-urban seats as well. In Perak, Umno won 9 out of the 10 semi-urban state seats that it contested.
The semi-urban seats that were not in the BN bag were lost by the Chinese and Indian BN component parties and not by Umno (with the exception of Sungai Rapat).
- Keranji was lost by MCA (75.6% Chinese voters)
- Sitiawan was lost by MCA (74.3% Chinese)
- Malim Nawar was lost by MCA (70.8% Chinese)
- Pasir Bedamar was lost by PPP’s M. Kayveas (69.1% Chinese)
- Simpang Pulai was lost by MCA (63.7% Chinese)
- Jalong was lost by Gerakan (56.1% Chinese)
- Teja was lost by MCA (50.1% Chinese)
The visible pattern here is that all the semi-urban seats seats where the BN suffered defeat are Chinese majority seats.
Hence once again, it is proven that Zainah’s surmise missed the mark when she insists that Malay voters in the semi-urban areas had rejected Umno’s race-centric approach.
It is true however that BN lost the Chinese support wholesale even in the semi-urban constituencies. As long as any area of Perak is Chinese majority, the opposition will win.
Are Zainah’s figures credible?
Another contentious bit of statistics by Zainah is her quote that “Barisan won only 54% of the Malay votes”.
Zainah had adopted the figure from CENSE, a think tank founded by two former heads of the MCA think tank Insap.
A separate analysis by Dah Ikhwan showed that Malay support during GE13 for BN was 63.7% overall in peninsular Malaysia, which is 10 percentage points higher than stated by The Star columnist Zainah Anwar.
That’s a big gap between the two numbers. One can’t help feeling that the disparagement of Umno and the downgrading of its capability that often appears in The Star is quite deliberate.
Dah Ikhwan found that 63.0% of Malays in Perak and 56.7% of Malays in Kedah had supported the BN. Malay support for BN was highest in Johor at 84.1% (source: Dah Ikhwan).
The recently concluded general election instead saw a poor showing by PAS in Kedah, garnering 44.5% Malay support and worse in Perak, winning only 40.9% of the Malay votes.
In his cross comparison, Dah Ikhwan’s analysis pegged Malay support in the peninsula for PAS at 45.46% — a drop of almost 3% from the 48.34% level of Malay support that the Islamist party had received in 2008.
On the other hand, Chinese support for PAS rose from 59.3% overall in GE12 to 73.4% in GE13. Meanwhile, Chinese support for PAS in Selangor registered a stunning increase from 42.9% in GE12 to a whopping 70.3% in GE13, according to Dah Ikhwan (source: here).
This leap of Chinese faith translated into 15 state seats for PAS in Selangor, double its previous haul of 8 seats.
Zainah made the following conclusions in her Star column:
- “The days of it [BN] winning over mixed constituencies with its assumption that the Chinese would never vote for PAS are over.”
- “The days of it winning urban Malay majority seats with the assumption that the Malays would never vote for DAP or that urban Malays would never vote for PAS are over.”
- “There are no safe seats for Barisan in the urban areas. And eventually, as Pakatan re-strategises its message and tactics, even those safe rural seats would be up for grabs.”
What a bleak picture this Star columnist paints of the future of Umno and the BN.
The truth is quite the contrary.
(a) The data I’ve cited indicate that Umno is capable of winning mixed seats by depending on the Malay vote bank solely. And through a slightly stronger recovery of its Indian support base, BN should safely cross the finish line first in GE14.
(b) Zainah believes we mustn’t now assume that the Malays would never vote for DAP. Perhaps the Malays in her social circle might not be averse to the idea but then again, there are many Malays who simply look askance at the party.
The Malay unease with the DAP is hinted at by the disparity in the performance of PAS in the east coast states compared with the west coast states.
PAS had fared better in Kelantan and Terengganu — Malay states with an almost negligible minority of other races. The Malay voters in these two states – where the Chinese are few in number – were not spooked by the DAP’s preeminence unlike their brethern in Perak and Kedah.
(c) Zainah asserts that Pakatan is capable of mounting a serious challenge against the BN even in the latter’s fixed deposit rural seats.
Spoken like a true denizen of planet Star!
So indisputably pro-opposition in slant.
Gunting dalam Lipatan
Previously The Star had gone to the extent of printing a blatant lie regarding a fact that can be easily checked by anyone.
In its article ‘Campaign for survival of race, religion failing as more Malaysians reject it‘ on 28 May 2013, the newspaper quoted a forumer as saying, “In this general election, we saw that whenever Umno’s candidate lost, those constituencies were picked up by Malay candidates from PAS or PKR. As a result, this time, there is actually more Malay MPs.”
It is absolutely incorrect to say that Pakatan has more Malay MPs in the 2013 Parliament. There are only 39 Malay MPs in Pakatan compared to their 50 non-Malay MPs (see table above and pie chart).
[You can also check the Parliament official website.]
The Sneaky Star has a tendency to keep publishing these kinds of false, inaccurate or misleading information just to put the BN, particularly Umno, in a bad light whereas burnishing the DAP’s image and lofty ambition.
The MCA-owned and MCA-controlled paper’s insidious agenda and mala fide against the BN is becoming more apparent by the day. The Scissorati just keeps stabbing and stabbing.
And it will surely strike again before you can say ‘Jerusubang’.
With regard to the false statement published in The Star saying “this time, there is actually more Malay MPs”,
the truth is Pakatan has fewer Malay MPs and more non-Malay MPs in 2013.
Additionally it should be noted that Pakatan had 43 Malay MPs in 2008 compared to 39 Malay MPs in 2013. Full name list here.
In 2008, Malays made up 52.4% of the Pakatan MPs while in 2013, Malays made up 47.6% of the Pakatan MPs.