As the end of the year approaches, there is still no sign of any election being called. Now it looks like the general election (GE) will only be held after the automatic dissolution of our Parliament in late April 2013. Another possible date is perhaps March 2013.
Malaysia’s political landscape cannot be more different from that of the United States. Yet the recent presidential election there reinforces one important fact. That even if a person or a party cannot win the majority of the biggest ethnic group, the person or the party can still win the election by winning an overwhelming majority of the minorities.
President Barack Obama won because of the votes of the minorities. He carried almost 93 per cent of the African-American votes, over 70 per cent of the Asian and Hispanic votes, but got only 39 per cent of the votes of the White majority. In contrast, his opponent won the majority of the white votes at around 59 per cent but still lost the election.
Based on this, I think it is possible for Pakatan Rakyat to win the next general election in Malaysia, given that majority of the Chinese will vote for the opposition. What is needed is to make certain that the majority of Indian votes go to PR. Most of the Malay votes (my estimate is over 60 per cent) — the Malays form the biggest ethnic group in the country — will be for BN.
Bearing this in mind, I think it is politically unwise for PAS members to publicly suggest that should PR win their party president should be made the prime minister.
The support among the Chinese and Indian Malaysians for PR should not be taken for granted. One of the reasons for the level of support shown is that many of these people believe that even if PR comes into power with little government experience, it has at least a very experienced leader in Anwar Ibrahim and he can be accepted by all the ethnic groups.
While many Chinese had no qualms about voting for PAS candidates in the last election, it was because they supported a coalition in which PAS is only an equal partner and not the dominant one that would head the group. If the PAS president is to be the next PM, PAS would be perceived to be the dominant force inside the coalition, a prospect which may not be unlike that of BN having Umno as the dominant force. If that is the case, expect fewer of these people to support PAS in the next election, thus weakening the prospect of PR forming the next government.
PKR, on the other hand, is seen to be more moderate and multiracial. As such, its leader Anwar would have much more appeal and would be better accepted by all groups.
Those PAS members reminded me of the Taiping Rebellion of China in which a rebellious group which started as a reform group against the Qing Dynasty degenerated into a group of leaders fighting more for the spoils of war rather than the cause, when that war was not even half won.
I suggest that PAS members put more effort into winning the votes rather than harping on about who should be the PM. By doing so, they are actually doing a favour for BN; a situation akin to shooting one’s own foot.
I think generally PR should not be too complacent at this stage. By all indications, they have a chance to win, but the prospect is still an uphill battle, even though the uphill slope now is not as steep as before.
Remember the story of the tortoise and the rabbit. The rabbit, while on the way to victory, became too complacent and thus lost the race to the humble tortoise.
This is a lesson which PAS members as well as their president should take to their hearts if they do not want PR to become the proverbial rabbit.
This article is also available in TheMalaysianInsider .