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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Towards a united, just society
Towards a united, just society
31 May 2013 3.02pm

We have boxed ourselves into a corner as a country. How do we disassemble the NEP apartheid policies that fundamentally cannot continue forever? The injustice is simply not sustainable in the long run given the openness of information flow. No one, even the most liberal and generous gives up perks easily. What will make this transformation to a race blind society possible given the tremendous financial benefits afforded to some under the current system. I would like to hear the good doctor’s comments on this subject.

Isma
Isma
30 May 2013 2.15pm

A most interesting read. Echoing Jules, a constructive article and civilized in a way that is relatively rare and, may I add, with lucid comments. I also concur with the conclusion there is no quick fix. But, say what you will, there is a fix that takes time and it applies to all Malaysians, whether urban Malay, rural Malay and everyone else. The fix is education. I note those people (and in particular Malays) who support UMNO / BN seem blind to the faults and weaknesses of UMNO / BN. In fact, I was informed a supporter of UMNO explained away bribes as ‘gifts’ and thus are perfectly acceptable. This kind of rationalising is lunacy. A bribe is a bribe and is a crime but it takes a mind able to grasp the forces at play in bribe taking to recognise that a crime has indeed been committed. This unfortunately, is the crux of the problem. Our country’s long ruling political party has become too corrupted and intend to stay that way so they manipulate all messages to support their cause. The manner of manipulation is… Read more »

Jules Z
29 May 2013 4.26pm

This must be one of the most constructive and civilized article and replies I’ve read in a long time. Collectively, most if not all the pressure points of the Malay folks and their votes were highlighted. The weaknesses brought up by the good doctor, Abang Ir, Abang kampung, Alex and every single posts here should make a good reading for Pakatan’s think tank and strategists. I can only concur to each and everyone’s opinions and I believe you guys make more sense than the entirety of BN’s cabinet. However, I would like to make a point here with regards to the votes of the civil and GLC’s servants which I think Pakatan have not speak of, if I may. BN have ever since Independence, provided for this massive group of voters, which we all know are largely made up of the Malay folks. As pointed out by all of you here, I believe Pakatan have ‘overlooked’ their needs or ideals in trying to capture their votes. Do forgive me if Iam being a little bit blunt but from from a non Malay’s point of view looking… Read more »

Bangsa Malaysia
28 May 2013 12.01am

The kampung Malays are unhappy with urban development and want things done their way. Just leave the kampungs Malays alone in peace and just progress on. Orang kampung already have a better life from BN, they don’t care how BN does it. They have no need to ubah. They can survive with land and agriculture. Yes they do not trust Anwar or LKS or even anybody else for that matter,. It is us only urban citizens who want to ubah.because we suffer greatly, We have the need, as we know better what lies and stories told to us. It is for our own survival. The kampung Malays who are influenced by religious values vote PAS. But kampung Malays i think will never support PKR. And the same goes for DAP. The Malay value system simply will not allow it. This is precisely why we have the election “results” we have today. Orang kampung wants to rule this country, forever. Hence it is only through real education that progress is possible. The migration of orang kampung to towns helps, but we know it is extremely painful for… Read more »

Aliran
Aliran
28 May 2013 3.02pm

Perhaps exposure to independent views via alternative media will also play a big role. Many of the older folks in the interior also have little access to such views – think also of the indigenous folks in Sabah and Sarawak.

Pak Ali
Pak Ali
27 May 2013 8.11am

It’s an interesting analysis that you have made Dr Jeyakumar. It boils down to the fear of the unknown. But more crucially, I think it is a question of TRUST. The Malays simply don’t trust Lim Kit Siang. (Rightly or wrongly, there’s a history associated with him). As for PAS folks, well, they will always vote for the party because they have been promised Heaven. Some kampung Malays (and urban ones too) bought the idea, some don’t. PKR seems OK for the universal values it seems to stand for. However the non-PKR Malays simply don’t trust Pak Anwar. He sings different songs to different folks. He is prone to wheeling & dealing. He promises heaven & earth if he comes to power. He will say whatever you want to hear, not what is really good for you. (Free education, cheaper petrol? Why not when he can get the votes, even though anyone having any sort of grey matter between his ears will know that there is no country in this world that can deliver such promises, and sustain it over time, unless perhaps we happen to… Read more »

AlexUB
AlexUB
26 May 2013 10.21pm

Dear Doctor

My opinion is that not many Malays were with PKR and that the bulk of Malay votes for opposition were from Malays who supported PAS historically, voting for reasons quite different from that of the liberal and netizens. I think it will be very difficult for PKR to win over, if ever, the majority of all Malays, urban or rural. Whatever PKR says of BN’s malpractices, BN/UMNO had been good for Malays. Whilst the opposition can trumpet high ideals, to the ordinary Malays such ideals do not really matter for it is undeniable that Malays do have a sense of well being and comfort under BN that PKR, in trying to win over the urban and liberals, can only be viewed as a threat to this very sense of well being. The Malays do not fear change, they are well taken care of now…why should they change?

kaki pulau
26 May 2013 7.48pm

Perhaps the fear of change lies in being kept ignorant, all this while of other possibilities. People, not just Malays, who feel more safe and secure clinging to a traditional system and way of life, fearing loss of identity, culture or values if a political structural change happens, need to understand that such change has to be for the better. That a political change will not obliterate values and traditions they hold dear, that it will not be a threat to their traditional ways of life but will benefit all irrespective of their ethnic identity. The BN in its pre-election campaign frequently brought up the issue of challenges against the monarchy and the rulers, yet in reality, the change of government was never about making any other changes to the constitutional monarchy of this country or any change to the institution of rulers. It was only about changing the ruling party in Federal Government. So, the myth that the Malays will lose out under a multi-racial government is completely baseless and remains a myth, nothing else.

Lim Teck Hing
Lim Teck Hing
26 May 2013 5.58pm

The problem of rural Malays’ fear is real. They must be convinced that voting for a change will not jeopardise their privileges. The refusal of BN to accept the real reason for their “loss” is expected because to do so would mean acknowledging a sizeable portion of the Malays are beginning to loose faith in BN. Thus the think tank of BN could have advised the leadership to use a “distraction” strategy and what better way than to conveniently blame it on the Chinese voters and stir up a racial issue so that they (BN) do not have to explain the real reason for loosing their grip.

najib manaukau
26 May 2013 8.12am

How come the home minister did not ask the non supporters of BN/Umno to immigrate before the election ? Also he did not say where are the Malays, who supported the opposition, to immigrate to ? Can he now make a further announcement on that, … ?
Also how come every time these rapscallions from Umno will retrospectively argue that their speeches were taken out of context only after their speeches ?

Bangsa Malaysia
26 May 2013 12.27am

Dear Doctor,

Further to my comment above, if a survey or poll can be done as to see how many Malays still want their identity and privileges protected by the government, whatever government, then we can see clearly just how many Malays will vote BN still

The PKR Malays are principled Malays, they have their principles to hold on to.
The PAS Malays have Islam, they hold on to religious values.
What do the UMNO Malays have other than race ? Answer = Nothing.

Now do you see the source of fuel for all the rage and fire ?
.

Bangsa Malaysia
26 May 2013 12.14am

Dear Doctor, Hello. I am a Malaysian Malay, my race is Bangsa Malaysia, of course. I am a retired Engineer. Your analysis is correct, but not being a Malay, i guess you have trouble understanding the Malay psyche, thus your statement “They fear that they will be neglected by a government that places too much emphasis on meritocracy.” is although correct, is not to quite accurate and complete. My observation of it all is that Malays who still support BN/UMNO are unable to shed or let go off their identity as Malays, and do not quite agree to the concept of bangsa malaysia, meritocracy, democracy or whatever nasi you have out there ! No. All they know and aware of is their identity as a Malay, and the fear is the loss of this identity, implicating also the loss of political power, also the loss of protection privileges as stipulated in our constitution, also a loss of religious control, because non-religious Malays want their own definition of Islam, so that they are able to hold on to the identity of Malay-Muslim, and not as what PAS… Read more »