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Monday, January 31, 2011

Chinese votes alone not enough for Pakatan

Pakatan takes another hard knock in Tenang, making its goal of capturing Putrajaya looks all the more harder.

ANALYSIS

LABIS: Pakatan Rakyat’s fixation, and the popular debate on wooing the Chinese votes generally, often masks one crucial fact – its inability to capture the Malay votes.

Too often the swing in Chinese support towards the opposition hogs the limelight, but the fact remains clear that without the Malay votes, Pakatan’s Putrajaya quest is impossible.

Barisan Nasional (BN) saw its candidate Azahar Ibrahim garner 6,999 votes against the 2,992 gained by PAS’ Normala Sudirman, with a majority votes of 3,707 at the Tenang by election.

This is about 1,200 more than the victory margin attained by the late Sulaiman Taha of Umno in the 2008 general election, whose death triggered this 14th by-election since the last general election.

In the immediate aftermath of the election, the discourse turned on the Chinese votes as seen in the debate between BN and Pakatan politicians on the micro-blogging site Twitter.

The discussion on the return of Malay votes to BN was given little, if no attention at all, despite the clear fact that it signals Pakatan’s inability to capture the support from the country’s majority electorate.

Much of BN’s majority came from various factors including the increase in Chinese votes towards the ruling coalition as reflected in the sweeping of three out of four predominantly Chinese polling districts.

However, the majority garnered remain least convincing despite the fact that Tenang falls under the Labis parliamentary constituency, a known fortress of MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek.

The low voter turnout from the ethnic Chinese, which registered about 55% or 20% less than in 2008, could also have contributed to its victory assuming that the rest form much of Pakatan’s Chinese base here.

The Chinese form close 39% of the 14,753 eligible voters here.

On the other hand, the voter turnout for the Tenang Indians, which make up about 12%, was said to have registered a voter turnout of less than 40%. Their votes account little to the by-election’s outcome.

This means the Malay support made up most of the majority gained by BN. This means it increased significantly.

Pakatan chief, PKR de facto leader, Anwar Ibrahim had admitted in the past that the bloc must widen its Malay power base if it ever wishes to capture Putrajaya.

The continuous decline in Malay support in almost all of the 14 by-elections, including Tenang, is a clear indication that Pakatan has failed miserably in their campaign to win their support.

And BN’s Malay lynchpin, Umno, is well aware that it is not heavily dependent on Chinese support to maintain power. Without the help of its non-Malay component allies in BN, its parliamentarians alone hold enough seats to form and maintain as the government of the day.

Pakatan’s credibility now as a potent opposition force is questionable as the Malays continue to abandon the pact and, as of now, making its Putrajaya ambitions nothing less than a mere wishful thinking. -FMT

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