Friday, January 25, 2013

Race in politics, politics in race

I have just read P Gunasegaram's article Who will win GE13? in Malaysiakini. He has very methodically, and I believe quite logically, laid down his points which argue that it will be a tough struggle for Pakatan to secure a majority of federal seats in Peninsula to claim rule after the election.

But he said it's tough though not impossible, using the March 2008 results as indicative of Pakatan achieving the 'impossible'.

But he cautioned that it will likely be a very close call, where in such a situation, every single vote will count, more than ever before in Malaya/Malaysia's 55 years' history as an independent nation.

Malaysian politics is the story of politics of race or, if you like, race in politics. Unfortunately we can't escape racial discussions in politics because in truth we haven't yet possessed adequate thrust (or trust) and thus the required escape velocity to overcome its powerful gravitational pull, which compels us into more mundane Earthly understanding of its issues.

One insight Gunasegaram shared with us in his article has been that the Chinese vote bank is more or less already owned by Pakatan, and thus any further increase in Chinese support will likely not be as dramatically significant as it had been in 2008.

Whatever moderate gains Pakatan will further obtain from the Chinese in GE-13 will probably be in some MCA-held seats in Johor.

Also, rumours have it that Hishamuddin Hussein will be changing his seat for another as 40% of the registered voters in his current constituency of Sembrong are Chinese, so that could well be a pending Pakatan seat.

Of course there may be gains in additional Chinese-majority seats in Sabah and Sarawak, but I'll leave this sector to better informed people to enlighten me.

One glaring omission in Gunasegaram's article has been the Indian factor in Peninsula. Remember how Uthayakuamar and his supporters and sympathizers kept telling us it was the Hindraf-galvanized Indian mass that enabled Pakatan to achieve its 2008 election wins, ...

... and how he would withdraw that Hindraf-ized Indian support for Pakatan if the coalition doesn't listen to and accept his HRP's several demands, one of which had been the right to contest in 7 parliamentary seats and 16 state seats without Pakatan's participation, based on a Free Malaysia Today's report on 14 September 2011 titled HRP demands 23 seats from Pakatan.

The seven parliamentary seats he wanted were:

(1) Padang Serai (Kedah) currently held by Gobalakrishnan, formerly PKR,
(2) Batu Kawan (Penang) currently held by Dr Ramasamy (DAP)
(3) Ipoh Barat (Perak) currently held by Kulasegaran (DAP)
(4) Kota Raja (Selangor) currently held by Siti Mariah Mahmud (PAS)
(5) Teluk Kemang (Negri Sembilan) currently held by Kamarul Baharin Abbas (PKR)
(6) Cameron Highlands (Pahang) currently held by Devamany Krishnasamy (MIC), and
(7) Tebrau (Johor) currently held by Teng Book Soon (MCA).

Now, hasn't Uthayakumar just been the brightest spark in the class in asking Pakatan to meekly surrender 5 of their federal seats for his HRP to contest in GE-13, with 3 of the 5 seats held by his fellow Indians?

Surely this calls for a re-reading of my post Malaysian Racism & The 3 Baskets of Crabs at my other blog BolehTalk, wakakaka.

The 16 state seats he wanted were Bukit Selambau and Lunas (Kedah), Prai and Bagan Dalam (Penang), Buntong and Hutan Melintang (Perak), Port Dickson and Jeram Padang (Negri Sembilan), Tanah Rata and Ketari (Pahang), Puteri Wangsa and Tiram (Johor) and Sri Andalas, Ijok, Seri Setia and Bukit Melawati (Selangor).

You can work it out how many of those seats are currently held by Pakatan. Help you with a couple: Khalid Ibrahim holds Ijok, wakakaka, and Dr Ramasamy holds Prai, wakakaka again.

What do you reckon Pakatan would have told him? Maybe something like this:

You claimed to have gifted mandores
In 2008 with a Hindraf blank cheque
Now you want us to be like whores
To give in and lie down on our back

Perhaps mandores we may well be
Though if you expect us to give in
To demands so big-headedly crazy
Tambi, we'd be committing a big sin

Wakakaka, and I am not sure whether Uthayakumar is still insisting on these 23 seats.

But anyway, back on track, I wish Gunasegaram had analysed the Indian factor in his article.

On one hand people like Uthaykumar claimed that it had been Indian support that enabled Pakatan to win such a big victory in 2008, and should that be true, then given recent analyses that about 80% of Indians have returned to the BN fold, what does that spell for Pakatan other than big trouble.

On the other, which I am inclined towards, yes the Indians did contribute to the Pakatan victory in 2008 but they weren't the most impactful force behind the tsunami sweeping our political landscape. 

In arguing against the theory of Hindraf being the principal winning factor, I drew comparison to an earlier tsunami in 1969 when Hindraf was not even in existence (and Anwar Ibrahim was a youngish 20 something) yet which saw BN's predecessor, Perikatan (Alliance) lost humongously.

Gerakan celebrating its 1969 victory
Syed Hussein Alatas with pipe, his arms around Lim Chong Eu

I stated that the Pakatan victory in 2008, as the victory for the loose informal pact of Gerakan-DAP-PPP (including even informal associate PAS) in 1969, happened because many voters had had enough of BN and respectively Perikatan, and were prepared to change, and not because of any particular NGO. It calls into question the theory of Hindraf being the primary earth-shaking force in March 2008.

Assuming my belief is correct, and if the majority of Indian voters will be supporting BN in GE-13 as they traditionally have (yes, the Indians have been BN's 'fixed deposit'), there may be some adverse effect for Pakatan but certainly not to the extent Mr Gloom & Doom has been threatening the Pakatan 'mandores', wakakaka.

Najib's real 'fixed deposit', wakakaka

We also need to remember that Hindraf had not been an exclusive Uthayakumar's one-man effort but which saw front line participation by DAP members, one of whom, M Manoharan, is an ADUN who won Kota Alam Shah seat while he was behind ISA lockup as a Hindraf leader. So not all Hindraf supporters would necessarily boycott Pakatan.

It's also significant to note that Manoharan won in a Chinese majority seat, defeating the BN Chinese candidate by a resounding majority of more than 7500 votes in a constituency of only 26000 voters. Thus it's likely the DAP brand rather than Hindraf label that had enabled Manoharan to become an ADUN in Selangor.


So I personally believe the Indians supporting BN, while certainly not favourable to Pakatan, will not have that drastic effect as threatened by a crab (in a basket, wakakaka).

Leaving aside the Sabah and Sarawak factors, and let's not deny they will be very BIG factors, the fight in GE-13 which will produce big earth shaking results in Peninsula will be for the hearts of the Heartland.

This is certainly the belief of RPK as enunciated in his post Why is Dr Mahathir such an idiot?, a title which belies the political shrewdness of the former PM.

as if saying "up yours, you mongrels" wakakaka

RPK wrote (extracts only):

The only thing that can save Umno would be the Malay votes -- that determine roughly two-thirds of the seats in West Malaysia.

And that is why what they are doing/saying is not to win the hearts and mind of the Chinese and Indian voters. It is too late to win the hearts and minds of the Chinese and Indian voters. They need to win the hearts and minds of the Malay voters. And to do that they need to do and say what they are currently doing and saying. 

While this may upset the Chinese and Indians, who are not going to vote for Umno anyway, it pacifies the Malays. And it is the Malays they want to pacify, not the Chinese and Indians, who have made it very clear they are not going to vote Barisan Nasional or Umno come hell or high water.

And that may be why they had released the hounds of hell to 'threaten' to seize and burn bibles, to assure the Heartland that UMNO is their defender of Islam.

Maybe we have been syiok-sendiri-ishly mistaken (kidding ourselves) about UMNO being a divided house, when in fact they are playing Sun Tze's 'inflict injury on oneself to win the enemy's trust', where Najib by pretending to be 'injured' from UMNO intra-party fighting, lulls his enemy into relaxing his guard since he longer considers Najib to be an immediate threat.

Thus, perhaps Najib plays being the victim of ultra rightwing forces within UMNO in a manmanlai hope to secure as many Chinese and Indian sympathy votes as possible, or convince Chinese and Indians to 'help' poor Ah Jib Gor against UMNO rightwing forces, for as Gunasegaram mentioned, every vote will count, ...

c'mon MCA and Gerakan, own up, which one of you organized this, wakakaka

... while his UMNO colleagues (or sifu, wakakaka) assures (and secures) the Heartland that all's well and eight bells under a Hang Tuah-ish UMNO, though Najib couldn't help but also sneak in a visit to Gaza, just to shore up his Islamic-Muslim pro-Arab credentials, wakakaka.

If so, then it's a brilliant pincer attack which would have earned the admiration of the Carthaginian general Hannibal (or at least his soul).


Hannibal conducted such a pincer attack at the Battle of Cannae in 216 BCE to defeat the Romans, which military historians considered to be the first successful execution of the movement and one of history's greatest battlefield manoevres.

Battle of Cannae

Anyway, a week ago Debra Chong of The Malaysian Insider further illuminated our understanding of race in politics with her article For Pakatan, Election 2013 not a stroll in the park. She informed us about a Merdeka Centre survey which polled the preference of virgin (first time) voters, providing findings as follows:

(a) Najib's popularity rating was recorded at 49% of polled sample, consisting of:

  • 64% Indians approval
  • 60% Malay approval

Alas, the article was less clear on the approval of Chinese virgin voters for Najib, stating instead that 60% of them were upset with poor Najib.

But I don't believe this can be directly translated into 40% Chinese virgin voters approving or liking him, wakakaka. That's the danger of misinterpreting survey results though a news article, unless the actual report is thoroughly examined. Thus I don't how many percent of Chinese first time voters approve of Ah Jib Gor but I dare say not many, wakakaka.

The 40% or 4%? wakakaka

(b) BN approval rating was only 41%, supporting the argument that Najib is far more popular than his team. Maybe his Sun Tze-ing has paid off, wakakaka.

(c) Now this aspect of the survey is far more important. It's about what the first time voters consider as important issues, which obviously will influence their voting preferences.

The survey said the young Chinese were most concerned about corruption, while young Malays were about race and religion. Alas, this may upset Uthayakumar but the TMI article didn't say anything about Indian concerns.

If the Chinese sampling expressed they were most concerned about corruption, guess who then will they be voting for? Wakakaka.

But the most illuminating revelation from the survey has been that of half of the first-time (Peninsula) Malay voters polled. These virgin voters said they would no longer swallow scaremongering about their racial position being encroached upon by other ethnic groups, BUT they would still want to see politicians debate Malay and equality rights than talk about living costs or corruption ...

... which is the same as saying they are still very concerned about their rights and religion than cost of living or corruption, etc.

Does this mean they are more likely to continue swallowing the UMNO-Perkasa propaganda of the Yellow Peril being at the gates and breaking them down, in spite of their claim not to swallow cock & bull story from a bloke like Ibrahim Ali or numerous other UMNO mouthpieces?

And gnam gnam, we see a current exploitation of this concern as reported by TMI's article Friday sermon: ‘Enemies’ of Islam staking claim over ‘Allah’ to confuse Muslims where JAKIM told Muslims that "... being too open-minded and allowing Islamic rights to be abused by other religions was a dangerous act."

Oh dear oh dear, oh dearie me, the UMNO onslaught of Goebbels-ism is relentless.

Okay, so Dr Mahathir has got it right, and I suppose PAS too doesn't want to lose out on the Heartland votes. Thus screw the concerns of the Chinese.

But I opine there is a difference between UMNO and PAS vis-à-vis Chinese voters in GE-13.

UMNO knows it can no longer rely on or expect Chinese votes and has factored out any hopes for them. If Najib can manmanlai a few here and there, fine, those will be bonus points but not crucial to its election strategy.

But I understand PAS is dependent on these Chinese votes in, I was told, about 60 federal constituencies, where Chinese have traditionally not supported the Moon Party, but who it hopes this time, with the help of PKR and especially DAP, to manmanlai into voting the party through to Putrajaya.

If such is the case, then it is PAS rather than UMNO which is caught between the (Cina) Devil and the Deep Blue Green Sea.

But I doubt Uthayakumar will help them with his Hindraf force, wakakaka.


  1. My tarot cards show that Pakatan will not do as well as they did in 2008. Their consolation is they will not suffer anything like a rout. As for their hope of taking over Putrajaya, my sympathies to them. It ain't gonna happen. Not this time. Their stars are not aligned.

    Faro Mahaday

  2. PR may not be able to take over putrajaya this time, but sooner or later they will take over putrajaya because change is inevitable. It is a matter of when. On that day, it will be a new Malaysia where race does not matter anymore, where all are only known as Malaysians. We are being cheated by politicians who divide us so that they can be in power and enriched themnselves. This is only their agenda.

  3. Thank you for such an interesting read. I'll pass it on to my friends for them to digest and maybe salvage some of the virgin voters to our side.


  4. My Purple Star Chart shows :

    a. the mullah party will take a beating this coming GE

    b. year of the snake (2013, from Feb 10th onwards ) will give ah jib gor an edge over his nemesis anwar ibrahim

    c. the prices of almost everything consumable in the country will skyrocket starting from the 2nd half of the year onwards

    d. the beginning of the end of the national car project Proton which will suck in more capital injection before it folds up in a couple of years

    e. more buying spree and extravagant holidaying and parties from the top 2% of the majority race.

  5. Almost all political parties in Malaysia have engaged in some form of race or religion baiting.
    To me, The clear champion is UMNO and its sidekicks MCA and MIC, from different directions.
    UMNO stirring the sh*t , trying to instigate Malay fears of loss of their economic "safety net" , so-called threats to Islam.
    The latest icing on the cake was last Friday's nationwide Jakim-directed mosque sermons calling those non-Muslims insisting on using Allah as "Enemies of Islam". Wow ! Jakim has many enemies of Islam in the country.

    From the opposite corner MCA and its daily rag, The Star are trying to stir (successfully , I would say) non-Muslim fears and prejudices about the "Mullah" party.

    There is no doubt PAS holds on to a strict and conservative interpretation of Islam.
    In terms of the tone of the debate , however, it is ironic that the "Mullah party" has been largely level-headed and reasoned, and the dangerous demagoguery has been coming from UMNO and MCA.

  6. Najib doesn't need the full return of Chinese votes to win big.
    He just needs about 30%'ish Chinese votes combined with the heavy Malay heartland support and the confirmed return of the Indian fixed-deposit to win 2/3's majority.

    That' the reason for the two-pronged strategy with the Chinese - MCA to panic enough Chinese "if you don't vote for BN you will be dealing with mullah PAS" and handouts to Chinese schools and recognition of Chinese independent schools.

    He just needs about 10-15% of Chinese to return to BN's loving arms, or stay home and play mahjong on GE 13 day and he's got his 2/3 majority.
    After that, redraw all the constituency boundaries, and UMNO has it guaranteed for another 3 decades.

  7. Muslims become infidels if they let others use 'Allah'

    So we now have an Islam Melayu, which is different from Islam Indonesia or Islam India or Islam Arab.

    The phrase "lain padang, lain belalang" is OK in terms of simple cultural mores, but somehow doesn't quite ring true when it comes to fundamental religious rules, because it becomes self-contradictory if you really think about it.

  8. Justice for the Dead10:26 am, January 28, 2013

    Remember Teoh Beng Hock when you cast your vote on the day of GE13, or before you decide to stay away and play mahjong instead...

  9. "These virgin voters said they would no longer swallow scaremongering about their racial position being encroached upon by other ethnic groups, BUT they would still want to see politicians debate Malay and equality rights than talk about living costs or corruption.."

    To understand the malay minds, educated or otherwise, young or old, one must get through their polite flowerey facade to get to the real 'meat'.

    What malays want, even more so with these so-called 'enlightened, modern, educated' young malays, is do we maintain our 'inalienable' special rights forever.

    PKR and PAS understood this perfectly well. DAP knows this fact too.....albeit all the sound and fury about equality, giving aids only to ALL that truly needs help, etc etc.

    PR avoids like the plague any mention of abolishing the NEP totally or even partially and avoids upsetting the apple cart explaining to the malays the difference between 'inalienable eternal rights' and 'special priviledges within an agreed time frame'.

    Conclusion : the tongkat will still be in full use til the end of time or until such time all non malays ( or most) have migrated out, by which time, the meaning of special rights would be meaningless in a country with 99% malay muslims.

  10. I'm an educated Malay running my own company - its a real business with customers providing services to the public, not government contracts.

    Yet I support the New Economic Policy, because it has given me and other Malays opportunities where we would otherwise have none.

    I did very well in my studies, but I didn't have affluent parents like many of the Chinese I met at the foreign university I attended. The government scholarship gave me that opportunity which I would have been denied.

    My early experience working in the private sector - both multinationals and local Chinese owned businesses - gave me a bitter experience of the discrimination and prejudice which even very highly qualified and hardworking Malays face in the Chinese-controlled private sector. That gave me the determination to strike out on my own.

    In the business world, I don't have the Guangxi or business networking which Chinese businessmen engage in. My early years in business were tough. The easy terms of the initial loan I obtained gave me a leg up, without which I would have found it impossible to break into the business world.

    The special assistance given to Malays is still very much needed help for them to progress.

    1. I too didn't have affluent parents, like hundreds of thousands if not millions of Chinese like me. In fact my dad passed away (leukaemia) when I was 6, and my mum was only a semi-servant/cook, part time because she had to look after my very aged grandparents. We struggled through until I finally completed schooling and was employed. I would have really enjoyed the benefits of NEP, but alas, I was not (still am not, wakakaka) a Malay.

      For every successful Chinese, there are hundreds of thousands of unsuccessful and even miserable Chinese.

      Years on after school I met one of my classmates who became my professional subordinate, but only because his childhood life was more adverse than mine.

      I remember his stepfather was a hawker selling ice water in my village and he (my classmate) worked as his stepfather's assistant from 2.30 pm (after school) until midnight, everyday. On festive season his duty extended up to 2 am. With such a responsibility and childhood education, how he survived school had been a miracle and perhaps explains his poor grades.

      I had seen with my own eyes how abusive his stepfather was, especially when business was rotten on a rainy day. Karate style sidekicks to my classmate coupled with heavy handed cuffs were quiet common. But such abuses were/are common among poor Chinese and Indian families, probably due to the financial stress of their parents.

      But both of us emerged as quite mentally healthy citizens who serve our country to the best of our ability.

      I don't begrudge the Malays the NEP but have wish that it would be needs based and not colour based.

    2. The 2 prongs of the NEP were :
      1. to eradicate poverty, irrespective of race.
      2. to restructure society by eliminating the identification of race with economic function.

      If rich Malays can get preference for scholarships, discounts for houses etc. while poor Chinese & Indians are left on their own, how does this fit with prong no.1