Sunday, April 17, 2011

Consequences of Sarawak State Elections

To keep it short and simple, ‎it is a bruising win for Barisan Nasional in Sarawak state elections. An unofficial report highlighted a major drop in Barisan Nasional's popular support from 63% in 2006 to just 55% in 2011.

A drop of 8% is significant enough to jolt the ruling coalition. Opposition has successfully doubled their seats tally to 16 although it is still a long way from the coveted 24 seats required to breach the 2/3 wall.

Some of the consequences for BN:

1) The Sarawak outcome has effectively cancelled out the gains PM Najib had enjoyed in the last couple by-elections. The fact that the coalition has performed worse than 2006 is going to put additional pressure on his leadership of UMNO and Barisan Nasional which has a history of pushing out leaders who perform poorly at the polls. Abdullah Badawi regime lost just 8 seats in the 2006 state elections.

2) General election which has been slated for mid-half of this year may be shelved temporarily until the coalition has digested the post-election analysis for Sarawak. According to UMNO Youth Chief Khairy Jamaluddin, the leadership transition promise in Sarawak must be fulfilled as soon as possible. The speed in which Taib installed himself as a Chief Minister of Sarawak is going to derail the promise.

Najib cannot afford to call a GE without solving the issue of leadership transition and a leader overstaying his presence. However, it is going to be very difficult to force down Taib. His party has just delivered a clean slate in the state elections.

Taib has a firm grip on PBB. Any attempt to replace him with an UMNO friendly CM is going to upset Taib's faction in PBB and trigger a civil war in PBB. It may even worsen the situation for BN in the 13th GE. I doubt Najib would take this risk. He would not risk losing between 5-8 parliamentary seats in Sarawak by calling for an immediate GE too by June/July. Hence, the stand-off is expected to continue until at least 2013.

3) The outcome may put both Gerakan and MCA in a very difficult position if the PM calls a GE this year. Both parties, like SUPP, have been talking about reform and change since their stunning defeats in the 2008 GE but did very little to convince anyone the parties have been reformed. How long more can UMNO carry the burden of winning elections to ensure that the BN coalition stays in power?

4) PM Najib is open to more internal attacks and sabotage. His 1Malaysia slogan appears to be less effective in Sarawak compared to West Malaysia. However, the outcome of Sarawak elections is going to change the dynamics here.

Sarawak is a good mid-term review for any political parties hoping to win big in the next GE.

Najib needs to recruit, use and retain good people if the he wants to reverse the momentum.

Pakatan parties are going to come charging at him. The complete annihilation of SNAP in the state elections is going to make parties in Sabah think twice about not choosing to cooperate with Pakatan. I am sure that there a lot of young candidates in Sabah hoping for similar breakthrough in the state elections. This situation will be replicated throughout Malaysia.

Politically, BN is facing a Japanese syndrome (aging syndrome). Youth, qualification and dynamism are the assets in politics. Not many youths are attracted to join the BN towkays parties. Towkays or tycoons are often not easily accessible. Urban voters are looking for representatives who can serve their interests, outspoken and hard workers.

Najib and the rest of BN component parties need to be able to reenergize their parties by recruiting young, credible, smart and energetic new members and candidates or risk suffering a worse defeat than 2008.

For Pakatan, it is obvious that Dap has provided a sturdy stewardship to their onslaught of Sarawak. It's influence and credibility is going skyrocket in Sarawak and places the party has a reasonable presence throughout Malaysia.

PKR needs to learn from the outcome too. They may have achieved an increase of 300% in their winning margin (from 1 to 3 seats) the party has failed to convince the Dayaks, Ibans and other indigenous groups to vote for them.

For example, a Dap candidate would have won Senadin comfortably but PKR lost the seat by a slim margin of 58. Two of PKR candidates See and Baru Bian are popular lawyer activists in their own rights. The party lost 46 out of 49 seats it had contested. This is hardly impressive.

The three parties, Dap, Pas and PKR, should have realised that any weak link in their partnership is not going to help them defeat BN if the parties do not work hard to address their internal issues and weaknesses.

PKR could temporarily seek some refuge by winning three seats but the party could hardly be counted on to deliver more rural and semi-rural seats if nothing is being done to address its internal issues.

The last thing I would like to see is racialization of the Sarawak elections. The political dichotomy in Sarawak is quite clear. It is Urban vs Rural political models rather than Chinese vs Non-Chinese. Urban voters who had contributed to Dap's stunning victories and huge margins are made up of also urban Dayaks, Ibans and the rest who gave the party its victories especially in seats such as Batu Kawah and Dudong.

One thing is sure in Sarawak after 416 - the political landscape has shifted. I have an advice to all parties - ignore it(the shift) at your own peril. The desire for a real change, an accountable government, anti-corruption, a fair deal and responsible governance to inspire positive socio-economic development are far more important than any personalities in Sarawak.

It is time for BN to focus on these issues rather than Anwar Ibrahim and his alleged scandals.


Anonymous said...

"It is time for BN to focus on these issues rather than Anwar Ibrahim and his alleged scandals. "

In fact, you could used exactly these same words after the 308 GE.

And BN had not bothered to focus on 'these issues' but became more arrogant and flagrant.

Anonymous said...

PKR and PAS let sarawak b lesson to learn, in Selangor many of your supporters are looking away from PKR and PAS as many of these elected PKR and PAS ADUN and MP have never come out to service the people except DAP, I being the voter in Kota Damansara which voted PR but now i having second thought who to vote come next 13 general election, believe me there are many such me.

clearwater said...

Hmm, no mention of unfair election practices, postal votes, money and gifts and so on? These too played a part. A cynic would say the rural folks in Sarawak once again have sold out their childrens' future for some cheap handouts.

Anonymous said...

Unless PR can win rural votes, the gains stop at the urban and rural boundary.

There can be no change if it continues this way, just like in Peninsula Malaysia.

AJD said...

Good analysis and very balanced. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

Well said. Well said indeed.

Samuel Goh Kim Eng said...


To secure one's position in a rush
Trying to do personal things in a hush
Will not defend Jericho's wall with a brush
When it starts to crack with the final crush

(c) Samuel Goh Kim Eng
Mon. 18th Apr. 2011.

Anonymous said...

The majority of Sarawakians have made their intentions known in this election:
They once had a white rajah;
They now will get a "White Haired" Rajah. Perhaps they deserve him. And according to history it will take another 100 years to overthrow him! Good luck Sarawakians!

Anonymous said...

Lets watch the ding dong battle by Umno to get Taib out.Maybe MACC can help Najib!It is very gratifying to see DAP wins big.I think DAP's Penang is a role model!

Anonymous said...

The Chinese in Malaysia have to face the stark reality that to get a Fair deal in our country we have to throw away MCA,Gerakan,SUPP for these leaders are only serving their self-interest.I challenge all the bogus leaders of chinese based parties in the BN to QUIT BN and join other Indigeous party to fight for the Right of all Malaysians irrespective of race colour or religion and I am sure any Malaysians will give their wholehearted support.Accepting scraps from UMNO is a total betrayal of the the Trust of the people you claim to represent. Enough is enough the results of the elections CLEARLY demonstrate the frustrations of the chinese communities in East and West Malaysia of the Unfair practice existing in our country and the nons will unite with any party which will genuinely and sincerely fight for the rights of all Malaysians irrespective.
On the recent election results one thing is clearly noticable:

55% popular votes = 55 seats

45% popular votes = 16 seats

It doesnt need an expert to analyse the support the opposition garnered from the rakyat.
UMNO/BN days are numbered.

Anonymous said...

A litmus test to tell the nation that things are changing and transforming albeit at a slow pace.

If the opposition perseveres the trend will move from the city into the suburbs and rural areas. Any dictatorship can be toppled by the all important vote.

The truth will prevail and the Land of Sarawak is crying from all the plunders, rape , corruption and stealing from its own land.

Thanks for a truthful, concise and precise analysis of the Sarawak 416 election.

Anonymous said...

Unlike the urban areas, rural areas are different. There are taikohs under BN payroll. If PR goes into the rural village for the second time, PR will be chased away again by the taikoh headman. That is the mentality in rural areas. It needs time and PR has to start now to overcome such resistance.

Anonymous said...

pek moh is holding BN and Najib by their collective balls.He will stay on another 2 years,till 2013 GE. Najib can't force him to step down as CM becoz Pek Moh can threat to withdraw his party,PBBS,from BN. Thus he and his party are the king makers,Najib is PM and BN is gomen of M'sia due to Taib/PBBS. Pek Moh is one big headache to Najib.