Saturday, February 2, 2013

Run up to the GE13 : A monyet’s assessment on the strength of political parties

The GE13 is due very soon. Despite many chickenheads making various predictions over the past year, no one really had a f*#king clue when the elections will be. Some said it will in June 2012, some said September 2012, some said November 2012, others said Feb 2013, etc, etc. So do not believe any predictions (including this one).

The following is my assessment of the progress the various political parties in Peninsular Malaysia have made since 2008 and their standing today. Of course, since I am only a little monyet and not very smart, please take my assessment with a large dose of salt. I am only an amateur – so forgive my amateurish analysis. Only Peninsular Malaysia based political parties are discussed. I only know a little bit about political parties in Sabah and Sarawak.

The assessment is based on my own discussions with various individuals who are knowledgeable in the politikus industry in Malaysia, the review of various political literature, media reports and blogs as well as listening to my cat. I have made an extra effort to understand the sentiments of the non-Queen’s English speaking crowd and the rural voters as these two groups combined making up the bulk of voters in Peninsular Malaysia. I would like to advise my readers (most of whom are urban, English speaking professionals) that you guys are a minority. You views are not necessarily representative of the views of the majority of Malaysians (you can read my earlier article about the importance of sample size here).

I will start with the party that has made most progress and go down in a descending order.

1.DAP has made most progress since 2008. It has a very strong support base amongst the Chinese and its winning of Penang has consolidated its appeal among the Chinese voters. Over the past 5 years, DAP has cleverly strategized its campaigns, has a sleek campaign machinery and probably the most tactical of all parties. If you study its campaigns, you will note that they are rather sophisticated – better than that of other parties. LGE is a good man, perhaps a little cocky now compared to before 2008. Regardless whether you like him or not, he is doing a fine job as the CM of Penang and that has won him many admirers. (note : LGE could do with better hairstyling)

Unfortunately DAP has made little progress in attracting non-Chinese supporters. DAP is by and large, a Chinese party to the core. To the bulk of the Malays in the country, DAP = Lim Kit Siang = Chinese chauvinist – and it is going to take a lot of effort to wipe out that image. Tunku Aziz’s high profile departure and the failure to elect any Malays into the CEC only corroborated that perception. Now that the romance of 2008 is over, DAP will lose a significant number of Malay votes that helped it win many seats previously. LGE's drama about the use of “Allah” only helps to alienate Malay voters.

Come GE13, DAP should win more, predominantly urban/Chinese seats (both state and Parliament) than it has now. I think it will make inroads in Johor, Sabah and Sarawak. It may lose some mixed seats in Perak and NS.

2. UMNO. Surprise, surprise. Of course if you have only been reading Malaysiakini and Chinese newspapers, you will find this hard to believe. UMNO has consolidated itself. Najib is very popular among the people (if he keeps Rosmah at a distance, he will be even more popular). Najib is doing a lot of things right. UMNO has a large grassroot network which is active on the ground. You may not hear very much about it – but UMNO Youth and the Wanita and Puteri folks are going good work on the ground outside the Klang Valley and Penang. UMNO now has a lot more professionals. Irrespective of whether you like him or not, Khairy Jamaluddin is very smart and very articulate. If you watched the debate between him and Ambiga, to many non-partisan observers, Khairy won hands down. [UMNO has in recent years, attracted many English-speaking urban Malays].

Najib is a smart cookie. Najib is head and shoulders above his predecessor, Slumberjack. Many of his GTP and ETP are working – although his team could do better by communicating the results clearly. You, my readers, might not see the benefits but folks in rural areas do. Abolishment of the ISA and a slew of other laws is a major breakthrough which none of his predecessors had the courage to do. Najib has made more progress on electoral reform than what was done by his predecessors over the past 25 years. All these have won him many admirers. Now that DrM is back supporting UMNO, many Malay votes will return to UMNO. The perception that the Chinese DAP is manipulating the Malay/Muslims will win votes for UMNO/BN. Najib has, of course, strong backing from the Indian community.

UMNO, of course, carries a lot of baggage. The party still has many half-brained porcupines and tortoise-heads. A lot of the older members are probably still living in the 1980’s. The past (and even present) cosy links between businesses and the party is a problem that UMNO has not yet managed to eradicate. It has an image of lethargy and corruption which will also take a long time to get over with. Its dominance within BN gives the impression that it is also a bully.

Come GE13, UMNO will win more seats than it has now (mainly at the expenses of PKR). With a bit of luck, it could win back Kedah or Kelantan.

3. PAS of course has a long history of grassroot activism and a formidable campaign/ election machinery. The fact that it has held on to Kelantan so long is a testament of its strength. With the 2008 win of Kedah, PAS has also consolidated itself. Among the Pakatan partners, PAS probably has the biggest election machinery. Since 2008, PAS has been actively campaigning and exerting its influence in Kedah, Perlis and Terengganu.

The party has a few smart young cookies but suffers "old" image problem. The prominence of Nik Aziz and Hadi gives the impression that it is a party of oldies – which it is not. Of course, its ultimate goal of establishing an Islamic state has never and will never go down well with a vast majority of Malaysians, Malay-muslims included. However by virtue of its loose partnership with DAP and PKR, PAS has tried to put forward a more tolerant, liberal face. But its constant flip-flop over the Allah issue, it’s position within Pakatan and all sorts of prehistoric policies has already cost PAS many non-Malay votes. More importantly, it has to find replacements for Nik Aziz and Hadi who are now more than 300 years old. Furthermore, it is an open secret that after 20 years of PAS rule in Kelantan, the state is in dire straits – among the poorest, highest incidence of HIV/rape and incest, unemployment – when it comes to economics, PAS knows shit.

Come GE13, I think PAS will more or less maintain what it has now. It seems ambitious in Johor but unlikely to win much in that state. PAS will remain strong in Kelantan, Kedah, Terengganu and Perlis – the four poorest states in Peninsular Malaysia. It will lose some seats in Selangor and Perak. It could lose Kelantan or Kedah. [note : it is completely lost in Sabah and Sarawak]

4. MCA. Very difficult to assess. It goes without saying that DAP is now the biggest Chinese party in the country and MCA is struggling to find its footing. But not all is lost. MCA members have rallied around Chua Soi Lek  (despite his “problems”) and CSL is seen as a firm leader. CSL has balls that his predecessors did not have. It has a large grassroot network and has been doing community work on the quiet. Despite what you may have read or heard, the Chinese have not totally abandoned the party.

MCA has to get rid of the image that it is UMNO’s pissboy (well I am not sure what a pissboy is but it sounds like a right word to use here) which I think CSL is trying to do. One of MCA’s advantages is that it, though its long association with UMNO, has a better understand of the Malay psyche and is generally seen by the bulk of the Malays as less chauvinistic than DAP.

MCA will still struggle in GE13. However, with UMNO’s resurgence, it should be able to maintain its existing seats and win a few more seats.

5. MIC. The departure of Samy Vellu can only be good news to any party. MIC under Palanivel maintains a low profile. The party has been focussing most of its efforts amongst middle to lower income Indians and mostly outside Klang Valley. Some of its new leaders are very hardworking, smart and articulate. Kamalanathan (I like him), for example is a smart bloke who is articulate in Malay, English and Tamil. Najib has made numerous goodwill gestures towards the Indian community which should translate into votes for BN. With the departure of Samy Vellu, more Indian professionals have joined the party.

MIC of course also suffers an image problem. It has not really produced many leaders who are capable of leading a multi-ethnic society. Many Indian professionals have shunned the party in the past. It has to do lot of work to modernize itself, inject new blood and make itself relevant.

For GE13, the good news for MIC is that the Indian voters are returning to BN. This is due to a combination of Najib’s gestures as well as MIC’s own effort. MIC should do better compared to its performance in GE12.

6. GERAKAN. I think status quo. The resurgence of UMNO should gain Gerakan some votes. It should be able to maintain its existing seats. Honestly, I don’t know enough about Gerakan.

7. PKR’s originally strength was that it is the only real Malaysian party with a multiracial leadership. It also had a leader, Anwar, who managed to bring PAS and DAP together. Anwar’s sodomy trial helped PKR aplenty. PKR now runs Selangor and Khalid is doing an OK job.

However, PKR is the most problematic party within Pakatan now. After flying high during GE12, PKR has basically gone downhill since. Seen as the weakest in the Pakatan coalition, it also had to endure a number of frogs that have switched allegiance. Through his own doing, Anwar has lost credibility (including his famous September 16 2008 claim and his role in the recent Bersih 3.0 rally). His recent frogging exercise in Sabah speaks a lot about him. The sex tapes did not help. PKR’s own elections in 2011 were in shambles – leading to senior members leaving the party. The image of Anwar, Azizah and Nurul at the head of the party also gives the impression that it is still a party for Anwar – nepotism is ripe in PKR. PKR members are largely UMNO drop-outs – they are seen as not having the discipline or morals of DAP or PAS.

PKR would be the biggest loser in GE13. Anwar cannot carry the party on his own anymore. The images of policemen being attacked by a mob during Bersih3.0 rally (which BN will use to the maximum effect) will not win votes for PKR. Pakatan may just hold on to Selangor through the skin of its teeth. The fact that PAS members have openly expressed their desire for Hadi to be PM could only spell trouble for Brader Anwar. Without PAS’ support, Anwar will lose in Permatang Pauh (note without Anwar’s support, Hadi and Nik Aziz will still win their respective seats)

8. As for PPP, KITA, KUTU, GARU, and other miscellaneous parties, they should seriously consider merging with one of the bigger parties. Tak ada harapan.

Monyet King says
1. There is one group of voters that will overwhelmingly vote for BN – namely the armed force, police, RELA, FRU, etc. Bersih3.0 rally completely alienated this group. The images of policemen being attacked by a mob during Bersih3 will be used by BN to good effect in its campaign. DAP and PKR constant bitching about the police force will not win them any favours from this group.

2. Forgive my amateurish analysis. After all, I am only a little monyet. And also, my mind was clouded today for the lack of good teh tarik.

3. This is my assessment. If you like it, fine. If you don't like it, please go here.


beruk said...

good and balanced analysis...

Anonymous said...

MK, great writeup although I disagree with your view that PAS may lose Kelantan or Kedah.

Hashim Abdul Wahab said...

MK, I must congratulate you for having read the national political scenario well. I have a few things to add. 1. Since the GE 12 election the Chinese appeared elated and euphoric over the results of the election with the DAP winning a record no of seats in Parliament. Many of the Chinese have abandoned BN linked parties for DAP and the victorious DAP candidates at the subsequent Sarawak election further consolidate the Chinese to support DAP without realising the consequence of their action. The Malays, whether in UMNO, PKR or PAS view DAP as a chauvanist Chinese party. Many, particularly the veterans, have not forgotten what the MCP, associated with the Chinese, has done to many Malay leaders then when they took over the country for around 14 days and the long Emergency period where members of the MCP assassinated thousands of Malay professionals, teachers, police men, penghulu, ketua kampung and other prominent Malays. It is important young Malays understand the history of the country during the Japanese occupation and the the Communist insurgency and the role of the Chinese as members of MCP and the link to socialist parties.
Also. many of the followers of DAP, through their various internet postings (Facebook, Twitter, Blogs) have shown disrespect for the Malays and Malay leaders particularly YABhg Tun Dr Mahathir (TDM), which will have a backlash of Malay voters on Pakatan candidates in constituencies with mixed racial make-up. With the Malays generally feeling that the Chinese are consolidating together, the Malay strategy is inclined to show their unity by voting for Malay candidates whatever their poltical affiliations. But the long term effect of this bipartisan politic will be very adverse to the stability of the country which will have far-reaching implications in terms of politic, economy and social. It does appear that a significant no. of the Chinese are realising that instability of the country would have a greater impact on their economic interest and as the election gets closer will swing back to support the pragmatic leadership of Chua Soi Lek, who appear to understand the psyc of the Malays, unlike leaders of the DAP 2. Pas has been weekened recently because of a no. of issues - the conflicting statements on the use of kalimah Allah between the leaders and the Shura Council, the sacking of YB Hassan Ali and YB Ustaz Nasharuddin, that the party is yielding in to DAP on many sensitive issues, and the question of who to be the PM in case Pakatan is voted to occupy Putrajaya. 3. TDM is still healthy at 87 and he has a lot of influence on the Malay voters both young and old at GE 13. 4. The leader that Pakatan parties are promoting has credibilty problem as his political history and finance are tainted with cronyism, sex-related personal problems that he finds difficult to dissociate. The same is true with a few other PKR leaders whose personal life are being questioned.... Yes, DS Najib is a natural politician, very well liked by many that cut across ethnic boundaries but unfortunately, as you have indicated, he carries a heavy baggage...With the the above considerations I believe if the BN have good candidates and that these candidates have the support of the respective divisional party leaders and their overall reasonably good track records, though admittedly there are weaknesses of their Administration, they will carry the GE 13 and with a bit of luck, get the two-third majority in Parliament.

Anonymous said...

Monyet King for PM

adham said...

I don't know about Pas losing Kelantan and Kedah. Whenever i go, poeple of my circle talk about goverment is corrupt, unislamic and such. But of course it could be PAS supporter is more louder

Anonymous said...

lge is a good guy?

Anonymous said...

Well it is after all a monyet's prediction. We don't have to wait too long to see the real results, don't we?

ninotaziz said...

I agree with most parts. DSAI must learn Romney's lesson and do not become giddy with anticipation. Bravado is not enough.

SS Lim said...

The rural voters will decide who take the crown

Anonymous said...

A good and sensible assesments but for PR to retain Sgor,I think it is most unlikely.DAP will be status quo but for PKR and PAS the rakyat esp the fence sitters and protest voters will punish them this time around.They had given PR the chance and trust but in return PR had betrayed the trust with unfulfilled promises,corruptions,bad management for public utilities and lots of others which were the rakyat bread and butter.I just wonder the PRs lords always brag on saying of capturing new seats but I did not see positive strategies they adopted on how to retain the seats that they won in 2008.We must accept the facts that the scenario in 2013 is not the same as 2008.BN esp UMNO had learned a good lesson and they had rectified their weakness.The other component parties had some or rather consolidated their positions.For PR on surface they tried and appeared to look ok,nevertheless with lots of happenings lately which are bad for their images,I think the rakyat are matured enough to choose the best side that will guranteed their future.

ninotaziz said...

The Pakatan Rakyat coallition has unresolved leadership issues. Who is the strongest link in PR? Definitly not PKR. So who is the obvious leader for PR? Is he, or her, acceptable to the Malaysian public?