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Malay hesitation to regime change

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If we truly want to bring about this change, we have to be sensitive to the anxieties of the Malay community who still make up the majority of Malaysian families, says Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj

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– Photograph: Malaysiakini

The New Strait Times of 7 May 2013 provided the full election results for all parliamentary seats in PRU 13, together with the ethnic breakdown of each constituency.

If one analyses the outcomes on a state by state basis the following picture emerges:

Table One: Performance of BN and the PR by state and by ethnic composition of the constituencies (See note below on how to interpret the table)

stateethniccomposition2
*In Kelantan there were nine Parliamentary seats with more than 95 per cent Malay voters. Of these BN won three and PR won six.
# In Kedah there were four constituencies with 91–95 per cent Malay voters. BN won all four of these.

I think the following conclusions can be drawn from this table. The first is that there were several constituencies in Kelantan and Trengganu where more than 50 per cent of the Malays voted for Pakatan. Otherwise Pas could not have possibly won in constituencies where there are more than 95 per cent Malays.

The second conclusion that one may draw is that Malay support for Pakatan in Kedah was lower than in Kelantan, for Pas lost in all the seven seats it contested where the Malay majority of over 80 per cent. The PR only could win seats when the Malay majority was less than 80 per cent, suggesting that Pakatan Rakyat needed the non-Malay “push” to counter-balance the decline of Malay support to less than 50 per cent in these seats. If one assumes that the non-Malay support for Pakatan was 70 per cent in Kedah, then the Malay support would have to be about 45 per cent for the PR to be able to win by a small margin in seats with 75-80 per cent Malay majorities1.

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The third conclusion that suggests itself is that Malay support for Pakatan Rakyat is even lower in Perak and Penang, for in these states, the PR only started winning seats when the Malay majority fell to below 70 per cent. Again assuming a 70 per cent non-Malay support for the PR, scraping to a narrow win in a 70 per cent Malay majority constituency would mean Malay support of about 41.4 per cent for the Pas or PKR candidate!

Why is there weaker Malay support for the PR in the west coast states? Why the hesitation to go for change – I do not believe that the rural Malay population is oblivious to the corruption, the abuse of power and the flamboyant life-styles of the Umno elite and their families. They know, but still they hold back from voting for a change.

This is the crucial question that all of us who want to see the end of BN mis-rule have to address and find the correct solutions to. My take is that there is still a deep seated fear among a significant portion of the Malay population that they will “lose control” and thus lose the educational and other aid that their families have been getting. They fear that they will be neglected by a government that places too much emphasis on meritocracy.

I believe that we have to replace the BN if we wish to rebuild our democratic institutions – a professional police force, an independent judicial system, an independent Election Commission, etc. The current crop of BN leaders are too mired in corruption to bring about any meaningful reform of the political and administrative process in this country!

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But if we truly want to bring about this change, we have to be sensitive to the anxieties of the Malay community who still make up the majority of Malaysian families earning less than RM3000 per month! And all of us have to share the responsibility of reassuring them that there will be an enhancement of the aid they currently receive when the PR takes over.

That political task cannot be “sub-contracted” to Pas. If we do not take this issue on board, and handle it correctly, then we shall be stuck with the BN for several more elections!

Notes
1. If the non Malay composition is 20 per cent and 70 per cent of them voted Pakatan Rakyat, then Pakatan would get 14 per cent of the popular vote from the non Malays. To win the Pakatan would have to get another 36 per cent of the popular vote from the Malay community, which constitutes 80 per cent of the constituency. 36 divided by 80 would give 45 per cent.

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