Taking the Malaysiakini report at face value as accurate, you can feel free to now consider the BN dead. Really dead; dead as a dodo. Bukan setakat hidup segan, mati tak mahu — Refer, ‘Confirmed: BN picks ex-Orang Asli top cop for Cameron Highlands’.
Umno, the BN taikor, has at last discarded Indian sentiment in its decision not to field an MIC man as the Cameron Highlands by-election opposition candidate.
As is widely known, the desertion of Chinese voters from BN in GE14 was near complete. Less often mentioned is the fact of Indians massively deserting too. Harapan’s close election victory could not have materialized otherwise since three-quarters of Malay voters had still stubbornly clung to Umno and PAS.
Death knell after the last straw
This latest decision, reportedly, to stand Ramli Mohd Noor in Cameron Highlands to appeal to Orang Asli and Muslim votes is the final nail in the coffin for BN as a multiracial coalition.
Bear in mind that all the Sabah and Sarawak parties, which represent the native Christian electorate, have already pulled out from BN.
Aside from Chinese and Christian voters reckoned to be irretrievably lost, BN (read: Umno) is signalling that it presently regards the Indian vote – what little of it – as no longer being of any consequence. From now on, it’s the Malay-Muslim template all the way.
Crunching the numbers, it is indeed ‘correct’ or more viable for BN to make a strategic play for the 22 percent Orang Asli and 34 percent Malay (meaning Muslim) vote in Cameron Highlands. An added factor is that the votes which went to PAS on 9 May 2018 might be transferable to BN should the by-election candidate be a Muslim.
For the record, MIC‘s sole parliament seat – Tapah in Perak – has 15 percent Indian voters. This percentage of Indians would previously, i.e. before the GE14 slaughter, have been significant enough for BN to “bagi chance” for MIC to contest, seeing that there is no Indian-majority parliament seat at all in Malaysia. But not any more.
The 15 percent Indian electorate slice of Cameron Highlands is rendered inconsequential in Malaysia Baru.
Race and religion politics distilled
According to the Malaysiakini breaking news, Ramli Mohd Noor – pictured above on the right shaking hands with the acting Umno president – is not an Umno member.
Belonging to the Semai tribe, Ramli is not Malay but an Orang Asli nonetheless falls under the ‘bumiputera’ rubric and thus, there is no problem for him to join Umno. More importantly, Ramli is Muslim.
Doctrinaire PAS has always held that Malaysia as an Islamic country must rightly and justly be governed only by Muslim leaders – see tweet above. DAP has always been aware of this religio-moral stance by PAS but nonetheless allied itself with the Islamist party in both 2008 and 2013 because DAP is a power hungry political animal with no principles.
Ex-policeman Ramli, as a former member of the uniformed services, cuts an establishment figure – the type that sits well with nationalist and traditionalist Malay voters. He has an even chance of winning.
CAMERON HIGHLANDS: Voters
- Malays (33.5%) + Orang Asli (21.6%) = 55.1 percent
- Chinese (29.5%) + Indians (14.9%) = 44.4 percent
To be fair, Umno’s calculation that the Indians in Cameron Highlands will likely prove recalcitrant is a realistic assessment. Hence BN’s choice to pitch for Orang Asli rather than Indian votes.
It is equally realistic to expect that Chinese, Indians and Christians will not be voting BN in GE15. This leaves BN with a limited mono racial (‘bumiputera’) and mono religious (Muslim) appeal.
There is more however to Umno’s watershed. Why so hard up to win the 222th parliament seat when Umno has been hemorrhaging MPs through its easy-come-easy-go disloyal frogs?
Here’s my theory!
The Mother of All U-Turns
If the face-off in Cameron Highlands were to be between MIC and DAP, then our 222th MP to be sworn in will definitely be an Indian Hindu. With Ramli’s candidacy however, the odds are good for adding yet another Muslim to the Dewan Rakyat.
So why is this Muslim factor critical? I shall hark back to what I’ve been consistently saying about the nascent Malay-Muslim unity government.
BELOW: Malay-Muslim cat lovers unite; the castrated chihuahua is cast aside
Do you believe that the premiership will be transferred to Anwar in May 2020? I don’t.
Mahathir has been nothing but evasive in his statements. The “beloved” PM has been quoted as saying he will give himself “two years plus” on the job.
“Or a little bit more perhaps”.
Or even three years if that is what the rakyat want. “I will abide by the wishes of the people.”
Mahathir has been non committal to a definite timeline for a handover of power, or as aptly described by Kim Quek:
“oft-repeated wishy-washy and flip-flopping utterings on the length of his interim premiership, varying from one to two years, to two to three years to ‘as long as the people want me to serve,’ and always ending with the proviso that ‘if the people accept Anwar as prime minister’.”
In long game, demographic majority will prevail
The key question then becomes, will Anwar have the requisite 112 MPs to trigger a speculated no-confidence vote in Mahathir and install himself as the country’s eighth prime minister? How will the chips fall in just such a scenario?
My appraisal is that in order for Anwar to make a move, he will obviously need DAP on his side, the sycophantic evangelical love fest with Tun notwithstanding. And with YB Cameron Highlands as DAP’s 43rd MP, that’s one up for Team Anwar.
PAS and Umno will not submit to be in the same camp as the DAP. So the alternative to YAB Prime Minister Anwar is a Malay-Muslim alignment across the political aisle. In this obverse scenario, YB Ramli Mohd Noor will be an Umno/Muslim asset.
Can Umno work with Pribumi and vice versa? Yes, no doubt about it as evidenced each passing day.
Secondly, will Mahathir deign to coopt PAS for the sake of “one race, one language, one culture, one religion”? I believe the answer is ‘yes’ because Mahathir has never repudiated his ethno nationalism and remains an ardent admirer of Japan (one race, one language, one culture, one Japanese religion).
ABOVE: Azmin Ali and Hishammuddin Hussein’s families “reunited” … perpaduan ummah
Since Mahathir had been willing to stoop so low as to jilat balik ludah in cooperating with Kit Siang and DAP, how much harder will it be for him or his proxy to make nice with PAS? For Mahathir’s preferred successor (as widely rumoured), not hard at all.
The above is my hypothesis on Umno’s landmark but sad determination to ditch the MIC and indirectly close the chapter on BN. It is a Race & Religion decision.
It’s the necessary build-up to their much hoped for Malay-Muslim unity government soon replacing Harapan.
POSTSCRIPT: Mat Hasan has done what Najib didn’t have the heart to do – kill off BN.