In my previous posting Penang UMNO's "2 for me, 1 for you"? I mentioned that there were 22 Chinese-majority state constituencies in Penang, with 15 Malay-majority seats. Since there are a total of 40 state seats to be contested and won, this means 3 constituencies have a balanced ethnic mixed.
The poor Indians again do not have a seat where they can form the majority even though a couple of Indian politicians had lamented this was possible in a couple of areas, but that the EC has avoided creating these.
However, according to DAP vice chairperson Zufliki Md Nor, what we will have for the next state election is a slightly different setup, namely 14 Chinese-dominated, 10 Malay-based and 16 racially balanced seats.
malaysiakini also tells us that the DAP will be going for at least 25 seats with a hope to win more than 14. To form a government it must win at least 21 seats, which means then it is expecting to do so through a coalition with the PKR, whom it hopes will pick up at least 7 of the Malay-dominated seats.
Very neat maths, except for a few inconvenient facts, as follows:
It assumes PKR will have a chance. Even if the party (PKR, that is) were not disintegrating as it is right now, it will still face insurmountable odds.
Do rest assured UMNO will pour in extraordinary resources to finish it off, even if this means neglecting some seats that PAS will be contesting. It may be just a KTemoc guess but I reckon for UMNO the Islamic Party’s victories may be strategically more preferable than PKR's.
UMNO's special target will be the Permatang Pauh federal seat. I predict its next representative to parliament will be an UMNO person.
It’s not KTemoc wishing ill towards PKR but a predictable and inevitable political outcome - a case of what Chinese Penangites would term cruelly as 'charm ch'au tnooi keen' (to get rid of the grass permanently, dig out all its roots), and that's what UMNO will be gunning for, for once the snake has its head cut off, its non-poisonous 'tail' will wriggle its way back to the 'fold', with tails (pun not intended) behind their hind legs.
I would also go as far as to predict Anwar Ibrahim won’t be the PKR candidate. His barring from standing for political office, should the general elections be held before April 2008, will in fact be a face-saving outcome for him. But if he could contest, I believe he himself will avoid Permatang Pauh.
Meanwhile ... the DAP once again dreams of winning big in the Penang state elections despite several successive failures. But much as I wish the DAP people well, they will have to be contented with just an increase in federal representation.
Looking at Penang's Chinese-dominated seats (with attendant gerrymandering and all) I predict the DAP will win at most a couple more federal seats or so, but should be really happy to pick up 3 to 4 of the state seats, if at all it can.
Generally, throughout the world, governments are voted out rather than an opposition voted in. This happened in 1969 when Penangites booted out Wong Pow Nee’s Perikatan government and by default, allowed opposition Gerakan to slip in as the new Penang government.
Additionally, Penangites practise the time honoured (uniquely Chinese Penangites) formula of 'sending the DAP to KL to make noise, whilst keeping BN (Gerakan and MCA) at home in Penang to ensure funding for local developments'.
No, the Chinese Penangites aren’t prepared yet like the Malays to take to the streets to suffer for someone (for whom they do not respect anyway).
Call them mercenary, running dogs or cold calculating Chinamen, but that’s what they’ll do – the olde story of '3 bowls of rice' and screw your arty farty namby pamby bull of democracy and people’s voice.
Should you attempt to condemn them for political inertia or cowardice, they would just retort, 'hey, just look at 1969 and the current sorry heir of that accidental legacy, so what's the big deal in changing something old for something new'.
Then, we are also assuming that Tian Chua will be sitting still while the DAP stakes claim on all Chinese-dominated seats while leaving only the Malay ones to the Malay (principal) sector of the PKR.
Remember, the 16 racially balanced seats are a boon for people like PKR's Tian Chua and his Chinese/Indian cohorts, because in such mixed seats, the PKR is theoretically, yes lah, theoretically (only) better positioned to win than the DAP.
But I reckon there won’t be any compromise by the DAP because it would argue that PKR has been allocated the Malay-based seats and that’s that, for the PKR to win those and not mess around with the DAP’s staked areas. There’s going to be some backstabbing, sabotaging and wailing weeping (hands) wringing dramas, or even an irreconciliable split in the 'Coalition of the Convenient'.
My bold assessment is that the next general election will see the death knell of the PKR if it continues to depend on and use Anwar Ibrahim as a rallying figure.
The once-icon is in fact now a liability rather than an asset when the campaigning begins in Penang. This is especially so in the Chinese and Indian areas. You can bet that both ethnic communities will be reminded repetitively by the MCA, Gerakan and MIC about what the former Education Minister and former DPM had done for them and especially ‘to’ them, and of DAP's alliance with such a bloke.
While the DAP may withstand collateral damage despite its association with Anwar, poor Tian Chua and his non-Malay mates won't, and will suffer most from the taint, which was why I had suggested that the PKR needs to think outside the Anwar-centric box.
As for the DAP, I think the Lion of Gelugor may just scrap by, for sentimental reasons if not anything, as the next election will probably be Karpal’s last election because his health hasn't been too flash. But it’ll be close even for such a great and very popular man. I hate to see him lose in what may probably be his swan song.
Unlike the journalists in malaysiakini where they have a lot to lose for making poor analysis or wild assessments, thus their tentative dipping of their combined toes in the Penang water, KTemoc will be extraordinarily daring in my summary (and screw the consequences of being incorrect), which is:
(1) Some small losses at the federal level for the BN with a couple or so seats for the DAP;
(2) BN will retain state government, with perhaps, if the DAP is lucky, some losses in state seats for the ruling party;
(3) No federal or state seat for PKR - sorry.
(4) Penang will continue to fly the dacing banner.
(5) If, at the federal level, the BN wins comfortably with lots of or pivotal support from the Chinese, Penang will continue to have a Chinese CM.
(6) Poor Lim KS will be denied realising his wish of denying the BN its two-thirds majority - hey, what has this got to do with Penang ;-)