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Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Analyst: Expect Christians to dent BN 'safe deposits'



Rising political consciousness among Christian voters, who make up about 40 percent of the electorate in Sabah and Sarawak, is expected to threaten BN's stranglehold on the two states, which it often boasts of as "safe deposits".

NONEThis assessment was made by Denison Jayasooria(left), principal research fellow at the Institute of Ethnic Studies, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) during the 15th Malaysia Strategic Outlook Conference in Kuala Lumpur this morning.

Denison observed that Christian voters have been conservative and more inclined towards the incumbent government in the past, but recently there has been a “rise of Christian community” similar to that of the Indian community in the 2008 general election.

Issues related to religious freedom and rights of the non-Muslims, highlighted by the recent controversies over religious polemics, have caught the attention of the Christian community, he said.

Denison said that although Christians only make up 10 percent of the national population, their numbers are significant in Sabah and Sarawak.

“(Thus) Sabah and Sarawak are no longer the safe deposits for the BN,” he concluded.
Denison, who is also a committee member of the Society for the Promotion of Human Rights (Proham), was one of the three panellists to speak in the forum entitled ‘Politics Unusual - What to Expect in the Next General Election?’
Encouraging feedback

In terms of Indian voters, he pointed out that in contrast to the previous political adulation given to certain politicians like former MIC president S Samy Vellu, the direct intervention of the Najib administration in the long-standing issues faced by the Indian community, such as stateless individuals and Tamil schools, have received an encouraging feedback.

“Najib has won the hearts and minds of a sizeable number of Indians of the lower class.”

In contrast, he noted that opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim still resorted to the political gimmicks of singing Tamil songs and mimicking Bollywood actors.

NONEHowever, his fellow speaker James Chin (left) opined that although Najib had managed to subdue the anti-establishment sentiment among Indian voters, their support had not returned to the MIC.

The professor of political science and Head of the School of Arts and Social Sciences of Monash University, Sunway Campus, commented that the Indian votes are still fluid.

On the other hand, Chin found that the support of Chinese voters is still firmly behind the opposition and the percentage may go up to over 80 percent.

“Najib should have called the general election much earlier, maybe two years before when he was in a stronger position,” said Chin, adding that the premier’s popularity has been falling throughout 2012 and was approaching the bottom line of 50 percent.

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