Monday, March 10, 2008

Elections: facts, figures, quotes

With thanks to Malaysiakini and Malaysia

Barisan Nasional only gained about 51 percent of the popular vote from the 7.9 million ballots cast on Saturday.

However, it took 63 percent of the seats contested - or 140 of 222 seats in Parliament.

Interestingly, its peninsula-wide popular vote was only 49.79 percent, which effectively means that the opposition received the majority vote in this part of the country.

The New Straits Times said the ruling Barisan Nasional coalition - made up of 14 race-based parties - achieved 51.2 percent of the popular vote after support from ethnic Chinese plunged from 65 percent to 35 percent.

Backing from the smaller ethnic Indian community plummeted from 82 percent to 47 percent, while the number of Malays, who form the coalition's bedrock, fell from 63 percent to 58 percent.

The youngest candidate was PKR’s Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, who is 26. He defeated Seri Setia incumbent Seripa Noli Syed Hussin.

The largest majority was won by DAP’s Teresa Kok against BN’s Carol Chew, by 36,492 votes in the Seputeh parliamentary seat in Kuala Lumpur.

The smallest majority was just 14 votes for BN’s Hamdi Abu Bakar who beat Abu Bakar Haji Hussain of PAS in the Pengkalan Baharu state seat in Perak.

Prominent blogger Jeff Ooi - whose campaign was done online and funds were raised through his website - won the Jelutong parliamentary seat in Penang for DAP.

Other bloggers are Tony Pua (DAP, Petaling Jaya Utara parliamentary seat), Elizabeth Wong (PKR, Bukit Lanjan state seat) and Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad (PKR, Seri Setia state seat).

The full team from the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry all lost in the polls.

All top MIC leaders were wiped out - president, deputy presidents, two vice-presidents, women's chief and youth chief (one of the three vice-presidents, KS Nijar, did not contest).

"Prior to the elections, Barisan Nasional had kept on telling people to show their dissatisfaction through the ballot box. Now they have really shown it." - PPP president Datuk M. Kavyeas

"In the years to come, convincing younger voters to support a party purely on communal grounds will become tougher. A two-party system seems likely to evolve from the outcome of this general election. The first page of the new Malaysian political era opens today." - Wong Chun Wai, Star editor-in-chief.

"The race-based system is breaking down. The government is not looking so representative... and may have to re-engineer itself to be much more cognisant of this shift in the way people are voting" - Johan Saravanattu, Institute of Southeast Asian Studies. Saravanamuttu said the dominant Umno, which leads the coalition, would have to do a radical rethink about how it could become more inclusive to face the new challenge posed by PKR.

Silliest comment of the day goes to former Information Minister Zainuddin Maddin:
"It is not that they love PKR or PAS more that they voted against me.

The Chinese showed their resentment because of the economic backlash they often complained about. So, PAS and PKR should not be overly proud of their win (in Kedah).

The people may have to pay a price for their decision."
Completely missed the point.

"It’s also significant because the revolt is very multi-racial, and it’s taking place in urban areas throughout. But in the remaining states, some of the old patterns (of voting) remain, which means that the ‘tsunami’ (of change) has not reached the entire country. Sabah and Sarawak, meanwhile, seem to be on a trip of their own and are rather unpredictable.

The other significant thing is that (Datuk Seri) Anwar Ibrahim had his ear to the ground better than any other political analyst. He was the only one who thought that something like this could happen. He was most astute in reading and understanding the Malay mind. He read it correctly...

This demonstrates that we are moving into a middle ground that needs to be consolidated. This middle ground has candidates who are very conscious about bridging the gap and about being non-racial. All said and done, the BN has racially-exclusive component parties but now we have political entities which are actually multi-racial in composition and orientation."
- Dr. Francis Loh, political scientist, USM

"The fact that so many independent candidates and so many new faces have come to the fore shows that the Malaysian public has grown weary of the old faces, the old discourses and the old mode of politics in the country. We are now a more complex and plural society than before and we need to forge a new politics that reflects this diversity and pluralism.

We need and want a new Malaysian politics where merit, equality, fairness and accountability prevail. The Malaysian people will no longer tolerate empty promises, discredited politicians, bankrupt politics, cronyism, nepotism and abuse of power. The Malaysian nation wants the country back. We will no longer surrender our future to politicians and elites alone."
- Dr. Farish Noor, Malaysian public intellectual, author of The Other Malaysia

"In the lead-up to the election, the trend with the ethnic Indian and Chinese electorate was a huge protest vote against the BN. There was substantially less fear of an Islamic state. Within the Malay ground, the original assumption was that the Malay electorate was with the BN. Malay support for the BN was comfortable at the point when the election was called.

From the dissolution of Parliament till nomination day, the bickering and horse-trading between Umno candidates started the erosion in Malay support. During the campaign period, the erosion increased because the BN’s communication strategy was out of tune with the electorate. In the final days of campaigning, there was further erosion because the BN went on the attack. The attack on Anwar and the belated attempt to go on an offensive further pushed the Malay electorate away from the BN.

Malay support for the BN is split. In a lot of areas, the support for the BN was not much more than 55%, while in places like Kelantan, the BN support from the Malays was much less. Of course, internal and local factors also come into play. Then on polling day, Malay turnout rates were lower than expected."
- Ibrahim Suffian, programmes director of Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research

"Finally, a word for Umno. It would be foolish to write them off as a spent force. They'll still be running this country, and if they are smart enough, they'll retool, haul themselves into the 21st century and remain a potent force.

If they don't resort to any hanky-panky in the coming days, they'll deserve praise for respecting the country's democratic system despite all the ills that have diseased this grand old party."
- letter to Malaysiakini

"The challenge for the opposition in the coming months and years is a huge one. There will be many more ways to fail in this challenge than to succeed.

The parties have to be always vigilant, honest and humble. Their members will not be exempt from frequent visits by the demons of human weaknesses.

But the same people who have put them there can as easily reverse the decision if they should betray the faith. Checks and balances are essential for any system of government.

Whatever their political persuasions may be, Malaysians will benefit from the change. Let us all get down to hard, honest work."
- Yeo Yang Poh, former Bar Council President

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

Opposition can only ignore Indian votes at their own peril
- Indian vote bank the Achilles Heel in a two-party system

By Joe Fernandez@Fernz

Indian votes play the Kingmaker role in Peninsular Malaysia, not Chinese or Malay votes although there is a lot of talk about Chinese and Malay dissatisfaction. The Indians have been conveniently forgotten by the instant pundits-plagued media, again. The Chinese and Malay Opposition are just jumping on the bandwagon of Indian dissatisfaction and adding their own petty issues which detract from the core issue in the just concluded General Elections: Indian dissatisfaction with the BN. There is nothing the Chinese and Malay Opposition can do on their own without the support of Indian voters. Just as easily the Opposition won five states in Peninsular Malaysia, they can lose them again at the next General Elections if the Indians defect to the BN. That’s why Samy Vellu has pledged to stay on as MIC president and continue to soldier on. He knows. He knew. Even know, he’s plotting the destruction of the Opposition day and night.

It is not the Indians alone that are dissatisfied with the BN Government. Others are dissatisfied too. The difference is that the votes of the Others cannot make even an iota of difference at the polls against the might of the BN without the votes of the Indians. An Indian vote in a marginal constituency is worth its weight in gold compared with a non-Indian vote in an ethnic-majority constituency.

If the BN wants to win back the sizeable Indian votes in the 64 Parliamentary seats (BN obtained the Indian votes in only three Parliamentary seats), it must not touch the following in a negative way: Hindu temples; Tamil schools; and Tamil language.

It must not allow the Civil Courts to compromise the Federal Constitution by bending over backwards to accommodate Syariah Court rulings in an adverse manner against non-Muslims.

No snatching of non-Muslim corpses by claiming that they had secretly converted to Islam by reciting something in front of some people on their deathbed.

No bringing in foreign workers, legal and illegal, at the expense of Malaysians. Depressing local wages by using foreigners is also unacceptable.

The BN Government must rein in the Malay Police who are brutally engaged in a long running war with Indian youths. So many Indian youths have been beaten blue and black in police custody, and even killed, for no other reason other than their race. Has even one extra-judicial killing been investigated and the guilty punished?

The BN Government must make efforts to Malaysianise the Malay Police, the Malay Civil Service, the Malay Judiciary and the Malay Teaching Service. What will become of the Lingam tapes? There must be substance in the follow-up, not just form and cosmetics.

The BN Government must ensure that equal rights, as guaranteed by the Federal Constitution, are respected and honoured. Don’t drag in the question of special privileges (for the Umnoputras certainly) to deny equal rights to all.

The System must be for all, not just for some people. Contradictions, deviations, discrepancies and hijacking of the system must be eliminated. Government created opportunities must be made available to all, without fear or favour, and not just for some people only. There must be no discrimination or quota systems. The NEP, instituted in the name of the Bumiputera masses and the poor and socio-engineering, must go because it has been abused and abused enough time and time again to enrich the Umnoputras at the expense of all.

The Malaysian Prime Minister must behave as a Prime Minister for all races and not just for the Malays. He should never tell Indians to go and see some stooge of an Indian community leader when they have grievances to discuss with him. One day Badawi says he has big ears and the next day he refuses to meet with Hindraf leaders.

The Malaysian Prime Minister must stop saying things like: Melayu mesti buat ini, Melayu mesti buat it, Melayu mesti buat ini and itu, Agenda Melayu, ketuanan Melayu, perjuangan Melayu yang belum selesai, Melayu Baru, Islam Hadhari, incorporation of Islamic values, the Islamic state, the Social Contract etc. These are things that should be raised by Malay community leaders and not the Malaysian Prime Minister.

The BN, Umno in particular, must stop bribing Indian community leaders with some crumbs to betray the community.

The BN must not insist on the MIC being the sole representative of the Indian community in the Barisan Nasional.

Finally, the Opposition can only ignore the Indian community at their own peril. Don’t take the community for granted and become complacent and rest on your laurels. Anwar Ibrahim is no magician. This man has never impressed me. He’s a shallow intellectual and political chameleon – Chandra Muzzafar is right - who jumped on the Hindraf phenomenon (makkal sakthi or people power) and did very well for the Opposition. He must be laughing himself to death at the utter stupidity of the BN leaders in handling the Hindraf issue just as he was laughing himself to death when he effortlessly went from ABIM leader to Deputy Prime Minster although he made a mess of every Ministry he headed and would have made a mess of the economy too in 1998 had not Mahathir stepped in and sacked him. Let the Indians have their rightful place in the sun or witness Malaysian politics going into a long period of uncertainty, swinging from one extreme to another, and finally degenerating into chaos, instability and economic ruin.

The Bumiputera community was the excuse for the NEP in 1970 in the wake of the searing Sino-Malay race riots of 13 May 1969. Today, the Bumiputeras have nothing more than the proverbial shirt on their back and have turned to Islam in solace. They were used and thoroughly used again and again since 1970 as an excuse to enrich a privileged few, most of whom have since gone bankrupt and bankrupted quite a number of state institutions too.

The Opposition, in power in five states, should not make the same mistake with the Indian community which has put them where they are now. True, Others supported too. But their votes would have meant nothing at all against the might of the BN without the golden Indian votes, the deciding factor. Just look at the way the votes went in the just-concluded 12th General Election. However, the BN has been wise enough not to publicly blame Indian voters for their electoral debacle.

5:45 am  

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