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The next general election: Why 2017 is not the same as 1990

Formindable opposition: Mahathir and Anwar are now in opposition ranks

In a blog post today, Ong Kian Meng has responded to a blog post by Salleh Said Keruak, who had argued that the breakway parties from Umno such as PPBM and Amanah today may be likened to the period in the late 1980s, when Semangat 46 broke away from Umno. Umno still managed to win in the 1990 general election despite a decline in Malay support of just 2.4 per cent. Kian Ming argules that the political landscape in 2017 is a lot different from that in 1990.

This is Ong Kian Ming’s blog post:

Message to Datuk Seri Panglima Said Salleh Keruak: 2017 is not 1990

I was a little surprised to read that the Minister for Communications, Datuk Seri Penglima Said Salleh Keruak, responded to my media statement on the possibility of a 15% swing in the Malay vote against BN in the 14thGeneral Election. Usually, Barisan National (BN) Ministers do not like to respond to my media statements which contain facts and figures. I congratulate the Minister for Communications for his awareness of the swing in the Malay vote as we approach the 14th GE.

I agree with a number of points he made in his blogpost.[1]

Firstly, I agree that Pakatan Harapan (PH) cannot assume that young voters are more supportive of the opposition even though in GE2008 and GE2013, based on research on the voting streams, the support level for the opposition in the younger voting streams was higher than that in the older voting streams. It cannot be denied that the BN’s main weapon to court younger voters, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Khairy Jamaluddin, is well received among the younger generation, especially through social media. In my opinion, Khairy’s social media strategy is more effective than that of our Prime Minister’s. His popularity has taken another step upwards after ‘going to the ground’ to encourage and support our SEA Games athletes as well as representing our country in the sport of polo.

Secondly, I agree that our country is not currently experiencing an economic crisis, at least for now, unlike the situation approaching GE1999.

But Said Salleh should be aware that 2017 is not 1990.

Prior to GE1990, the opposition parties only held 27 out of 177 parliament seats or 15% of total parliament seats. Prior to GE14, the opposition parties (including independent MPs) hold 89 out of 222 parliament seats or 40%.

Prior to GE1990, the opposition did not control a single state government. Prior to GE14, the opposition are the state governments in three states.

Prior to GE1990, all the media were controlled by the government. Prior to GE14, the online media is giving the mainstream media a run for its money in terms of the number of users. Social Media has given another channel to the opposition to send its message to voters.

Prior to GE1990, the opposition was led by a former Minister of Finance who had left UMNO. Prior to GE14, the opposition is led by a former Prime Minister, two former Deputy Prime Ministers, the leader of the opposition, a former Menteri Besar (Kedah), a Menteri Besar (Selangor) and a Chief Minister (Penang).

Prior to GE1990, the young leaders in the opposition were not well known by many. Prior to GE14, the young leaders in Pakatan Harapan who are 40 and under include Nurul Izzah, Syed Saddiq, Nik Nazmi, Wong Kah Woh, Hannah Yeoh, Zairil Khir Johari, Steven Sim, Yeo Bee Yin, Kasturi Patto and many others. Other than Khairy Jamaluddin, the most well-known young leader in the BN is arguably Jamal Yunos who aspires to run for the UMNO Youth Chief position.

Prior to GE1990, GST did not exist while petrol, sugar, cooking oil and other subsidies were still in place. Prior to GE14, the implementation of the GST and the withdrawal of various subsidies have decreased the income of the people and increased the cost of living from the cities to the kampungs.

Prior to GE1990, the Prime Minister at that time was not involved in any mega scandals which stained the country’s reputation all over the world. Prior to GE14, Malaysia is more well known as a kleptocratic state as a result of the 1MDB scandal where billions of ringgit are suspected to have been stolen from the Malaysian people and used to buy diamonds, bungalows, paintings and posters, and yachts, among others.

All these factors do not mean that a Malay swing of 15% from the BN to the opposition will take place. But, one wonders, does Said Salleh’s blogpost show that UMNO itself is afraid that this Malay vote swing to the opposition will become a reality in GE14?

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang

This was Salleh Said Keruak’s blog post:

Sunday, August 27, 2017
ANALISIS ONG KIAN MING MENARIK TETAPI JAUH TERSASAR

Salleh Said Keruak

1. Ong Kian Ming dalam analisisnya tentang PRU ke-14 menyatakan akan berlaku 15% peralihan undi Melayu kepada Pakatan Harapan seperti mana yang berlaku pada tahun 1999 dan 2008.

2. Hujah beliau mudah: setiap kali parti UMNO berpecah akan menyebabkan orang Melayu menolak BN. Ini dapat dilihat dalam PRU 1999 apabila peralihan undi Melayu berlaku sebanyak 27%. Dalam PRU 2008 pula, BN hilang majoriti dua pertiga apabila 6% lagi pengundi Melayu beralih menyokong pembangkang.

3. Pertanyaannya, bolehkah dicapai 15% peralihan sokongan Melayu ini? Kian Ming kata tidak mustahil jika melihat kepada sikap pengundi Melayu dalam PRU 1999 dan 2008, dan juga jika melihat kepada munculnya PPBM.

4. Benarkah andaian Ong Kian Ming tersebut? Hasil semakan saya kepada data lepas mendapati analisis Kian Ming tersasar dari fakta sebenar.

5. Untuk analisis yang lebih tepat, kita perlu melihat senario tahun 1988-1990. Situasi inilah yang perlu dijadikan sandaran untuk membuat analisis perubahan undi Melayu kerana sejarah perpecahan politik Melayu bermula di sini.

6. Pada tahun 1988, UMNO berpecah setelah Dr. Mahathir dan Tengku Razaleigh bertanding merebut jawatan Presiden UMNO. Selepas pemilihan itu, kumpulan Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah keluar daripada UMNO dan menubuhkan parti Semangat 46.

7. Dalam PRU 1990, S46 bergabung dengan PAS, HAMIM, DAP dan PBS, namun adakah pakatan pembangkang memenangi pilihan raya tersebut? Jawapannya tidak.

8. Kemerosotan pengundi Melayu hanya 2.4% berbanding PRU 1986. S46 pula hanya memenangi 8 kerusi parlimen daripada 61 kerusi yang ditandinginya. Bagi peringkat DUN pula, S46 hanya memenangi 19 kerusi daripada 152 kerusi yang ditandingi.

9. Situasi tersebut sama seperti hari ini yang mana UMNO mengalami perpecahan dengan melahirkan PPBM. Maka, bagaimana dengan PRU ke-14 nanti?

10. Jika melihat kepada realiti sekarang, sukar untuk berlaku peralihan undi Melayu lagi. Dalam PRU 1999, senario berlakunya peralihan undi Melayu ketika itu adalah berbeza dengan situasi sekarang. Tahun 1999, negara baharu diserang krisis kewangan dan ada isu mata lebam. PRU ke-14 isu tahun 1999 dan 2008 sudah jauh kita tinggalkan.

11. Analisis saya sebelum ini telah menggariskan lima faktor kenapa anak muda akan menyokong BN dalam PRU ke-14 nanti. Dalam analisis ini, jika mahu bersandarkan kepada hujah “UMNO berpecah maka Melayu akan mengalih sokongan kepada pembangkang,” itu adalah generalisasi.

12. PRK Sungai Besar dan Kuala Kangsar telah membuktikan walaupun UMNO berpecah, parti pembangkang masih tidak mampu menumbangkan BN. Tambahan pula, parti pembangkang kini mempunyai pecahan parti Melayunya sendiri seperti PAN yang lahir hasil perpecahannya dengan PAS. PPBM dan PAN juga adalah parti baharu yang masih tidak mendapat sokongan meluas. Politiking pembangkang yang terlalu banyak juga menyebabkan rakyat bosan kerana rakyat mahu terus bergerak ke depan membangun Malaysia yang maju dan sejahtera.

13. Maka, kenyataan bahawa akan berlaku perubahan 10-15% undi Melayu kepada pembangkang dalam PRU ke-14 adalah jauh tersasar.