Ironically, both BN and PR leaders are happy with the Sarawak election results. The only exception is SUPP but even their own leaders knew about their fate long before election was called..
BN leaders have expected something even worse. In fact, just a few months ago some of them have privately expressed the fear that they may lose more than one third of seats. So to them, to be able to secure more than two third, despite losing more seats than 2006, is a good result. The fact that PM was there for the whole week was due to this fear of losing the two-third.
PR of course is happy since they double their representation, even though it has fallen short of their one third target.
The results reaffirms what we know all along: that the urban votes are now dead against BN, not just the urban Chinese, but urban Dayaks, and in West Malaysia, even some percentage of urban Malays and Indians too.
A reader whom I suspect is a BN member since he uses the BN sales pitch wrote the following comment in my blog in the last post:
Just think rationally, if the rest of Malaysia is still with BN, won’t you think chinese will be sideline even more than before. All the remaining 5 chinese mayors and all the state ministers post – how many will remain?
As a former member of a component party, I have heard this sales pitch many many times before.
Let us not just argue but look back at recent history.
In 1999, the Malay votes turned against BN because of the Anwar factor, and what saved the day was the Chinese and Indians votes, which helped BN to pull through. In 2004, Chinese votes were generally behind BN and Pak Lah, after he has uttered the famous (or infamous depends on which side you are on) phrase ” work with me, and not for me”. 2004 election was also the one election that BN won the highest percentage of popular votes ever.
So since 1999 till almost 2006, the Chinese sentiments were with the government of the day. They have a relatively high representation inside then.
What did the urban votes get in return? More racism even to the extent of keris raising, more extremist views ( and more double standard when it comes to uttering extremist views) , more marginalisation, more corruption, more so-called
pirate-isation privatisation where billions were lost as leakages and wastage, more abuse of power by our various institution to the extent that ISA was used to ‘protect’ a journalist. These were real happenings that occurred during the period when the government of the Day enjoyed relatively high support of the urban people (eg. in KL Gerakan won 2 out of 3 urban seats in 1999 and 2004, seats where there were Chinese majority but with sizeable Malay and Indian voters, and nationally it won 10 of 12 Parliament seats contested).
AT that time, there were many elected Non-Malay Ministers inside the cabinet. The representations were there, but things worsened. The perception is that these people talked outside but dared not voice out inside.
The truth is there were actually 2 types of representations of these component parties inside. One was the quiet type, agreeing to whatever policies decided, and dared not object very strongly, since many of them put their self interest above all else. There was another type that spoke out quite strongly inside too, but being a small voice, the voice was totally ignored. The latter was also the one that would not be allowed to rise up to a high position, since anyone who dared to speak out were chopped and sidelined in every component party without fail.
Many a times members of these component parties were told not to ‘rock’ the boat. In one of the National Delegates’ conference, I actually argued that it was not the members who rocked the boat, it was the ‘ineffective’ leadership and the ‘dare-not-voice-out-too-strongly’ attitude of the top leaders of these component parties that not only rocked but also sank the boat. The voting patterns of 308 and 416 show that what i have uttered is generally true.
So the perception among the urban people is that even with these people inside , their grouses had not been heard.
As a consequence of getting huge support, the government of the day became so arrogant that the some ministers could not even take fair criticism in their stride and acted as if they could never be wrong, since they believed that most people, even the urban ones , were behind them.
It was only after 308, when many of the component parties suffered huge losses and humiliation that the government of the day began to appear to want to seek change. That is how the slogan of ‘1Malaysia’ came about. They are forced to seek change not because they wanted it, but because they knew that if they don’t, they would get booted out. It becomes a case of either change or be changed.
It is this fear of losing their power and perks that makes them soften their stand and, and outsource the more extreme parts to their associates in certain NGO.
Ironically, only when the representation of the urban area was at its lowest, did the government of the day realise that there is a need to change. But given the warlord culture, it is a mammoth task.
So when the urban people all voted for the government, they were taken for granted. There were few scholarships, there were few opportunities to get government contracts etc etc. Members of some law enforcement agencies were more busy tending to their own ‘cari makan’ than to catch criminals. Crime rates soared.
These all happened when urban people voted for the government. So i would not blame them if they got fed up and seek to change.
I will quote a true example to show how timid these leaders were inside. When some of the BN chairmanship of parliamentary kawasan of some component parties were taken away by Big Brother last year, I raised the point that if the component parties cannot even fight to retain their own seat allocations, how are they going for fight for the interest of the people? The answer I got from the Top leader (and our representative to Supreme council) was that even CSL (the DVD actor) did not say anything, so he just kept quiet. He then put the blame on his predecessor,
the adviser ( note: I canceled the 2 words because the advisor resigned some time back). When a representative who is supposed to represent a component party inside the ‘Supreme Meeting’ cannot even utter the word “No” , how can he effectively represent the people? CSL, as told by my own Top leader, was not vocal at all inside; but outside, he appears to be another man, vocal in quite a number of issues. A typical case of 2 face.
The comment of the our ‘wise’ reader above is actually standard BN sales pitch, and people in the urban areas would not buy this sale pitch anymore. If the government is serious to win back urban votes, they need to do more than sales pitch.
What the government needs to do is not to punish the people who voted against them by withholding development. What they need to do is to find out WHY people voted against them, and tackle the problems at its roots: Be more equal and fairer, be more transparent, be more people orientated, be less corrupt. Adopt policies that are inclusive and will not marginalise any group.
Go direct to the people, even if the urban people have no more representations inside. Listen to the people. They have eyes and ears everywhere, so feel the pulse. .
The fate of the Indians was a good example. While they have voted time and again for BN and MIC, they became the most marginalised group. Only when the NGO Hindraff appeared on the Horizon, did their plight get noticed . But sadly what was being done for them is still not enough, still very far from uplifting this community from poverty.
The Chinese community has asked that the UEC exam be recognised. They have been asking this for many many years. Only now, after the community has shifted their support against the government, did the government come out with some changes to let some of those who pass UEC be admitted into main stream universities. This could not even be achieved during the time when their representation was relatively high inside the government. I think this example speaks plenty for itself that ineffective representation is even worse than no representation.
Tan Sri George Chan has finally hit the nail at its head when he attributed the cause of the routing of SUPP and his own defeat to this : whatever change that was being done was ‘too little and too late”.
Unfortunately, He paid the price for realising this ‘too late’.