An uphill battle for BN

Political scientist Dr Ong Kian Ming, a personal friend, wrote an interesting article in Malaysiakini ‘Hulu Selangor is Pakatan to lose”. (read here).

The article concluded that, pending unforseen circumstances, Pakatan is likely to win. For the sake of those who do not subscribe to Malaysiakini, I will post the whole article below in the comment section.

Kian MIng’s estimate, based on polling station returns in 2008, is that BN won 55%, 35% and 51% of the Malay, Chinese and Indian votes respectively. He argued that Pakatan won because of split voting of some Malays (voting for Bn at state level and Pakatan national level), and this together with the sizeable nonMalay support resulted in Pakatan winning the seat in 308.

I agree with his analysis. This time around, I think BN has less than 20% of Chinese support, and maybe 60% of the Malays. So if Pakatan can win 50% of the indian votes, it will win the seats.

My calculation is based on simple mathematics:

Racial breakdown of Hulu Selangor voters:

Malay   53.9% of total voters

CHinese  26.7%

Indian  19% and others 0.4%

Thus, if Pakatan can win 80% of Chinese, 40% of Malay and 50% of Indians votes, the calculations will be :

80% out of the 26.7% of Chinese votes = 21.36% of Total

40% of the 53.9% of Malay votes = 21.56% of Total votes

50% of the 19% Indian votes = 9.5% of Total

Thus 21.36% + 21.56% + 9.5% = 51.92%.

If the turnout is 85%, the margin will be around 2000 votes.

Unless BN can win more than 60% of Malay votes or more than 50% of Indian votes, it will not be able to win. Chinese votes are gone, and Pakatan may even win more than 80% of the votes , thus making the margin even higher.

Of course, election is very fluid and anything can happen between now and polling day. This is my rough estimate using common sense  and simple calculation.


18 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Dr Hsu
    Apr 19, 2010 @ 14:12:52

    I will post Kian MIng’s article here:

    ANALYSIS After weeks of intra-party wrangling and negotiations, the dust has finally settled and the line-up for the Hulu Selangor by-election has been determined.
    Former Kota Bharu MP and de facto law minister, Zaid Ibrahim, representing Pakatan Rakyat, is set to take on MIC information chief P Kamalanathan.

    This by-election arguably ranks as the most important since the Bukit Gantang by-election in May 2009. The stakes are indeed high. It is an important litmus test for Najib Razak’s popularity after approximately a year in the prime minister’s office. And it comes in the aftermath of a series of high-profile PKR defections.

    This by-election has been quickly dubbed as a contest between a well-known PKR heavyweight against an unknown, and hence lightweight, MIC candidate. PKR’s incumbent status and the contrasts in the national profile of both candidates seem to tilt the race in Pakatan’s favour.

    But is a Zaid victory assured? Is the confidence in a Pakatan victory misplaced, especially given the many rough patches PKR has been through over the past few months?

    According to my analysis of the 2008 general election results, and given the candidate selection process within the BN, my initial assessment is that this by-election is Pakatan’s to lose.

    Split voting among Malays

    BN should have won the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat in 2008 if not for the presence of split voting, most notably among the Malay voters in this constituency. All three state seats in Hulu Selangor were won by BN.

    If all of the voters who voted for the BN at the state level also voted for the then MIC candidate, G Palanivel, at the parliamentary level, BN would have won 55% of the vote. Because of split voting, BN obtained approximately 3,300 fewer votes at the parliamentary level compared to the state level and subsequently lost this parliamentary seat by a mere 198 votes.

    It is not unusual to observe split voting during Malaysian elections. Penang Chinese voters have long established the practice of voting for the DAP at the parliamentary level while giving their vote to BN at the state level. That is, until the last general election.

    Split voting among the Malay voters was also observed in the 2004 general election in Kelantan when more votes went to the BN at the parliamentary compared to the state level, the reverse of the practice in Penang.

    Malay voters also tend to split their votes when a Malay opposition candidate is fielded against a non-Malay BN candidate. This effect is usually more noticeable, not surprisingly, in Malay-majority constituencies.

    The Malay voter split voting factor explained why PKR decided to field a Malay candidate in the Teluk Kemang by-election in 2001.

    In cases such as the Teluk Kemang by-election, split voting by the Malay voters usually does not hurt the non-Malay BN candidate because of the overwhelming support of the non-Malay voters.

    In 2008, however, split voting among the Malay voters coincided with a significant drop in the level of non-Malay BN support, which allowed the PKR candidate to win the Hulu Selangor seat by the narrow margin of 198 votes.

    According to my estimates, using polling station returns, the Malay support for BN was approximately 55% while the Chinese and Indian support were 37% and 51% respectively. If the BN could merely prevent the kind of split voting which allowed the PKR candidate to unexpectedly win this parliamentary seat in 2008, it could easily emerge victorious in this by-election.

    Zaid to bag bulk of Chinese votes

    However, there are a few reasons why I think that it is not realistic to expect that the BN will be able to increase its level of support to that which it enjoyed at the state level in 2008.

    Firstly, I anticipate that the level of BN support among the Chinese voters will not increase and may actually take a further dip. While split voting among the Malay voters went against the BN at the parliamentary level, split voting among the Chinese voters, especially in the Chinese-majority polling districts in the Kuala Kubu Bahru state constituency, actually favoured the BN at the parliamentary level.

    This was because more Chinese voters, such as those in the 82% Chinese Kampung Bahru Cina KKB polling station, voted for the DAP candidate at the state level compared to the PKR candidate at the parliamentary level.

    In this particular polling station, the differential between the parliament and state returns was 11% in favour of the BN at the parliamentary level.

    It is not altogether inconceivable that Pakatan, with the full participation of the DAP, would be able to convince a majority of this 11% to switch their support to Zaid Ibrahim. Zaid’s reputation as a progressive and as someone who has spoken out in favour of reforming the NEP will no doubt make the job of convincing more Chinese voters to support him a much easier one.

    Furthermore, the leadership conflicts within the MCA, which do not seem to be fully resolved, make it very unlikely that the MCA can effectively campaign to swing the Chinese vote back in favour of BN. In fact, the opposite is likely to occur.

    Secondly, I do not anticipate a significant swing back to the BN among the Indian voters. Much of this has to do with the candidate selection process involving the back and forth featuring MIC’s S Samy Vellu and his deputy and former Hulu Selangor incumbent, G Palanivel, on one side and the Umno leadership, on the other side.

    While the president of BN – the prime minister and Umno president – has the final say over the chosen candidate, it is an unspoken convention that the president of the respective component party, in this case MIC, should be allowed to field his preferred candidate.

    BN to bank on Najib’s popularity

    Palanivel, given his position as the former incumbent and as the deputy president of MIC, should have been fielded, especially since Samy Vellu had forcefully insisted, even up to the 11th hour, that Palanivel should be the MIC candidate. Samy played a dangerous game of chicken by threatening an implicit boycott when he marshaled his forces behind the candidacy of Palanivel.

    When Palanivel was dropped in favour of Kamalanathan, Samy had to do a quick U-turn to show that he was willing to support the new candidate. But the well has already been poisoned.

    Samy not only showed himself to be powerless to fend off interference by Umno in the candidate selection process, his forceful and ultimately unsuccessful defense of Palanivel’s candidacy has probably resulted in the demoralisation of many of the grassroot MIC members.

    Even if Palanivel is promised a senatorship and a deputy minister position, one cannot help but wonder if he and his supporters will be willing to campaign all out for the new MIC candidate, especially if the new kid on the block can threaten Palanivel’s own position within MIC if he wins this by-election.

    By reducing the status of MIC’s president and deputy, BN has left itself in the precarious position of relying solely on the popularity of Najib to win back the Indian vote and at the same time, hoping that there will not be a backlash against the new MIC candidate because he has been seemingly ‘parachuted’ into Hulu Selangor at Umno’s behest.

    While the salience of the Hindraf factor has certainly declined since the 2008 elections, it is hard for me to envision a significant increase in the level of Indian support for BN, especially given the confusion and animosity generated as a result of the candidate selection process within the BN.

    All this only provides more campaigning fodder for Pakatan to use. Zaid’s position among the Indian voters is likely to be strengthened given that there is no other prominent Indian candidate contesting either as an independent or a third party candidate.

    Incentives for Malays not to vote BN

    The BN is most likely to benefit from an increase in its support among the Malay voters in Hulu Selangor. Zaid’s position on the NEP can and no doubt will be used against him in the Malay-majority polling stations.

    The by-elections in Bukit Gantang and Permatang Pasir showed a small but noticeable increase in the level of Malay support for BN, probably because of the transition from Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to Najib and also because of a certain degree of discomfort over the power and positions held by the non-Malay leaders in Pakatan.

    But I am willing to hazard a guess that the electoral incentives for not voting for the BN candidate will likely outweigh the benefits of supporting the BN candidate thereby limiting the potential BN gain among the Malay voters.

    What prompts me to have this conjecture? Again, I turn to the candidate selection process. Right from the beginning, certain leaders within Umno, including many from within the Hulu Selangor division, were already voicing their opinion that this seat should be given to Umno to contest.

    I am of the opinion that an Umno candidate would have stood a much better chance of winning this seat compared to an MIC candidate because an Umno candidate would be able to limit the effects of split voting among the Malay voters.

    In fact, if former Batang Kali state assemblyman and former menteri besar, Muhammad Muhammad Taib, would have been the chosen candidate, I am quite sure that he would win this by-election courtesy of his local popularity.

    The Umno leaders at the division level, knowing that another MIC loss will likely lead to this seat being given to Umno in the next general election, will have much less incentive to campaign all out for the MIC candidate. After all, why deprive themselves of the chance of being selected as the Umno candidate in the next general election?

    Similarly, Umno members would also realise the likely consequences of an MIC loss – that this seat would be given to Umno. Lastly, sophisticated Malay voters who want to see this seat given back to Umno in the next general election, would have greater incentive to vote for the Pakatan candidate (or spoil their votes) rather than to vote for the MIC candidate.

    Regardless of the chest thumping and bravado issued by Umno leaders that they will go all out to campaign for BN irrespective of party or candidate, the expectation that an MIC loss will result in this seat being given to Umno has already been set. This way, Umno can benefit regardless of the result.

    If BN wins, credit goes to the prime minister for choosing the right candidate and for winning over the hearts and minds of the voters. If BN loses, then blame goes to the MIC, its candidate and its president. And Hulu Selangor can be reclaimed by Umno in the next general election.

    Pakatan likely to win

    There has been some mention that the higher number of spoilt votes in the 2008 general election will be significantly reduced if the unpopular Palanivel was dropped as a candidate. I want to correct this notion.

    The number of spoilt votes in 2008 – 1,466 to be exact – constitutes approximately 3% of total votes, only slightly higher than the 2.2% average in Selangor and only 195 more than the 1,266 spoilt votes at the state level, less than the eventual margin of victory. Hence, I do not expect a decrease in the number of spoilt votes to play a decisive role in this by-election.

    For all the reasons outlined above, I posit that Pakatan should be favoured to win this by-election, despite the problems faced by PKR in the past few months.

    They do have a higher profile candidate, one who is likely to receive a higher level of support among the Chinese and probably the Indian voters as well.

    The public relations disaster that was the candidate selection process within BN has most likely poisoned the well among the Indian voters. And the underlying electoral calculus, that an MIC loss will result in a future Umno candidacy, will not be lost among Umno leaders and campaigners as well as among the sophisticated Malay voters.

    A lot of course can happen in the course of the campaigning period. But perhaps the biggest danger facing Pakatan is the danger of overconfidence and complacency, given its initial political advantage. Pakatan’s biggest enemy in this by-election may just be itself.


  2. Kenny
    Apr 19, 2010 @ 14:49:21

    BN is unlikely to get more than 60% of the Malay vote. It all depends on how the Indians vote. If more than 50% of Indians vote PR, it will win and vice-versa. Let’s see if the Indians want to be treated like equal partners under PR or remain as beggars under BN. Will they prove that Nasir Safar was right about them?


  3. cilipadi
    Apr 19, 2010 @ 22:08:59


    Umno talks about ‘morality’ to win Hulu Langat bye-bye election,

    Fat hope, fat chance. Of all parties, Umno talks about ‘morality’?

    MCA also dare not mention this word ‘morality’ since the pornstar took over.

    What about Gelakan?

    Actually, I thought of giving up lecturing about MORALITY. Umno realises the important of this? Too late?

    morality makan cili, Umno rasa pedas


  4. disgusted
    Apr 19, 2010 @ 23:09:08

    Hello Cilipadi,

    AMNO “talking” about morality? No, they are not talking, they are slandering.

    They are playing the dirty game. How many of them drink overseas in posh hotels, nobody knows too.

    Drinking a grave sin? What about money politics? Power abuse? And a whole lot of unspeakable activities which caused harm to others. ISA?

    No, AMNO don’t realise anything, don’t be fooled by its hypocrisy.


  5. Bentoh
    Apr 20, 2010 @ 00:03:18

    Hi Dr Hsu,

    In a way your analysis may clearly explain why UMNO is the de facto candidate in Hulu Selangor. UMNO will once again sing on the racial tune to woo Malay votes…


  6. Chauncey Gardener
    Apr 20, 2010 @ 05:25:31

    BN are favourites as they already control the 3 state seats and this has been a BN stronghold in the past,

    While Zaid is a heavyweight, he is not local in this by election. That will work against him.

    The surprise is Ibrahim Ali supporting Kamalanathan’s candidacy. The last I checked, the BN candidate is of Indian ethnicity and his “praise’ of Ibrahim Ali may well work against him among the undecided voters.


  7. Lai Kee Kong
    Apr 20, 2010 @ 10:03:20

    An interesting comment by Ong. However, there are holes in the theory too. He thinks UMNO will not give their 100 percent to win this election so that they can benefit in the future. The thing is, if this is true, it should happen in every election in every malay majority seat. So either it is not true or it is true and it does not matter. What matters is what the voters want.

    In a way this a game theory scenario. Do you cooperate or do you think of self interest? If you cooperate, the return is more on the whole than acting selfishly because you need each other’s help elsewhere because the game is played repeatedly. Even though the instinct is for self interest, I am sure there are saner heads in UMNO.


  8. Dr Hsu
    Apr 20, 2010 @ 10:31:27

    Just heard from one of my sources that Indian votes especially in the estates favour BN, and overall 60% of Indian votes might be against PR. I do not know how true this is. If it is so, then it will be tough for PKR and it is like Ijok all over again.


  9. klm
    Apr 20, 2010 @ 10:36:17

    It is now down to money. Shovelful of money. I heard one foundation took bags of cash to Hulu Selangor.


  10. Dr Hsu
    Apr 20, 2010 @ 10:54:09

    my sources also told me that 85% of chinese votes going to PKR. But for Indian votes, according to Malaysiakini chinese edition, they quoted someone saying that 55% of Indians are for Zaid. The whole situation is still not so clear yet, and very fluid.


  11. Kenny
    Apr 20, 2010 @ 11:19:12

    I also do not agree with analyst Ong Kian Ming that there is incentive for Umno to sabotage the MIC candidate. The reward of getting an extra MP seat far outweighs the future reward of an Umno candidate especially when it moves them closer to regaining 2/3 majority in parliament. Umno’s mentality is also infantile in that immediate rewards are more important than future rewards.

    As I’ve said before, how the Indians vote will be crucial with the Chinese and Malay votes largely immovable. Whichever party gets more than 50% of the Indian vote will probably win. With Hindraf confusing the Indians by attacking PR since their ISA release the community has no direction. I should say that Hindraf while proclaiming itself non-aligned actually helps BN in an underhanded way.


  12. A true Malaysian
    Apr 20, 2010 @ 11:24:38

    The attitude and mentality of Indian is something not easy to understand, and also a contributing factor for their predicaments.

    Just see the number of political parties formed by Indians, and get to know what I mean.

    So long they don’t change their attitude and mentality, their predicaments will be there unsolved. Just imagine, how to explain, if Dr. Hsu’s source is correct, 60% of Indian votes are in favour of BN, which ironically, the main cause of their predicaments (apart from their own attitude and mentality).

    I am not doing race profiling here, as we can see, those Indians in Pakatan Rakyat are so much different.


  13. hanprem
    Apr 20, 2010 @ 11:40:04

    For UMNO to talk about morality is just like asking a prostitute to preach morality to school children.

    There are so many skeletons in BN’s cupboard. BN will try to win the by-election by hook or by crook. Unfortuately, there are so many gullible voters who will will be sucked in by BN’s dirty tactics.


  14. disgusted
    Apr 20, 2010 @ 14:57:44

    Yes, there will always be gullible voters. But who’s to blame. they lead simple and often tough lives, making a livelihood, from hand to mouth.

    Their political thinking (if any) don’t penetrate deeper than beyond physical survival. And they deserve the type of government they voted in. They don’t realise the harm their voting preference can affect those who want better changes.

    They will forever remain suckers until they wake up…by then, perhaps a little too late.


  15. Kenny
    Apr 20, 2010 @ 15:43:46

    An article in malaysiakini has PKR’s Kapar MP claiming 55%-60% Indian support. The Indian vote is very fluid now and could go either way. However I’m incline to believe that PKR can get the majority of Indian votes based on MIC being widely disliked in the Indian community. The fracas over candidate selection may cause some MIC Indians to register protest votes. The MIC candidate Kamalanathan is perceived as being subservient to Umno. He also made the mistake of defending Perkasa.

    Vicious character attacks on Zaid may actually help PKR win more of the Malay vote. Umno never learns that Malays do not like personal attacks. There is also disgruntlement among Felda settlers.

    BN got almost 100% of the orang asli votes in 2008 but that’s not likely to happen now after the Putrajaya rally and the Umno minister’s insulting response.

    The Chinese are of course rooting for PR. It looks like a win for Zaid. I expect a majority of at least 3000 votes.

    Anyway, it’s good to see Dr, Hsu, a Gerakan leader rooting for PR too. You give hope for a better Malaysia, Dr. Hsu.


  16. disgusted
    Apr 20, 2010 @ 18:02:54

    The Chinese should remember the “female frog” from Perak and the community should remember Chinese history of a general (traitor) who opened the gate to the Mongols. Now, frogs are given an “All-Scar” award. It’s good, makes us remember these traitor frogs. many Hulu Sgor Chinese have relatives in Perak and the justice must be made in Hulu Sgor, give their verdict.

    THIS SHOULD BE the only PLATFORM the Chinese should base their voting preference. They can shut their ears and eyes on all the stupid issues AMNO raised. “Yam Seng” to all Chinese voters. Exercise your CONSCIENCE!!


  17. Nick
    Apr 20, 2010 @ 18:09:50

    Let’s assume BN win big. Najib will be over the moon and might even be tempted to call for an early GE13. Everyone will be touting a turnaround in BN’s fortunes. I wish this was so. It will further cement BN’s arrogance. But this is precisely what people in Perak, Penang, Kelantan, Kedah, NS wants. Hell let’s go for general election and I can bet my last dollar that BN will lose BIG in all these states. A temporary setback for PKR may actually be a good thing for the opposition. In either case, this by-election will be a win-win for PR. Damn the corrupt BN evil doers, robbers and killers.


  18. disgusted
    Apr 21, 2010 @ 00:33:15

    Reasons why you should not vote Barang Naik for the rest of your life:

    1 Massive coruption
    2 Rampant abuse of power
    3 Arrogant leaders (and Liars)
    4 Rape of Perak
    5 APCO
    6 PKFZ
    7 Destroy the 3 pillars (judiciary, executive and legislative)
    8 Racism
    9 Croynism and nepotism
    10 Rape of natural resources
    11 Incompetent enforcement
    12 Suppression of human/individual rights (ISA etc)
    13 Protecting corrupt leadership/leaders
    14 Condoning corrupt police force
    15 money politics/Votes buying
    16 Rewarding frogs
    17 Mismanage economy
    18 Stupid/idiotic policies
    19 Brainless ministers
    20 hypocrisy, greedy and power lust elitism
    21 Failure in managing environment
    22 Condoning overpopulation migrants
    23 Failed to curb crimes, rapes etc
    24 Failed to resolve traffic chronic jams
    and the list of failures never fail to end…..


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