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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

The honeymoon period is the best time

The Malaysian voters are a very generous lot during the honeymoon period (like 1955, 1964, 1974, 1978 and 1982) but will punish the ruling party when there is internal strife (like 1969, 1990 and 1999). So, when Malaya saw independence, when Malaysia was formed, when Malaysia had a new Prime Minister and the Prime Minister was still in his honeymoon period, etc., the ruling party would do well. When the ruling party is facing internal strife or the honeymoon was over, it suffers.

THE CORRIDORS OF POWER

Raja Petra Kamarudin

In 1955, during the first municipal elections to be held in Malaya, the Alliance Party won all but one of the 54 seats contested. This was due to the Merdekaeuphoria.

In 1957, Malaya gained independence or Merdeka.

In 1959, two years AFTER Merdeka, during the first parliamentary elections to be held in Malaya, the Alliance Party won only 74 of the 104 seats and 52% of the popular votes. The ruling party lost 30 seats whereas two years BEFOREMerdeka it lost only one.

In 1963, Malaysia was formed, and in 1964 the Alliance Party recovered. The ruling party won 89 of the 104 seats contested and almost 59% of the popular votes.

In 1969, the Alliance managed only 95 of the 144 seats. The popular votes also dropped to below 50%. The Prime Minister, Tunku Abdul Rahman, was forced to resign soon after that.

In 1974, soon after Barisan Nasional was formed, the ruling party won 135 of the 154 seats. The popular votes also increased to almost 61%. But this time it was under a new Prime Minister, Tun Abdul Razak -- the second Prime Minister of Malaysia.

In 1978, the ruling party won only 130 of the 154 seats contested. The popular votes dropped to almost 57%. This was under the third Prime Minister, Tun Hussein Onn, who had taken over more than a year earlier (he waited too long to hold the election).

In 1982, the ruling party won 132 of the 154 seats and almost 61% of the popular votes. This was also under a new Prime Minister, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad -- the Fourth Prime Minister of Malaysia, who took over only a few months before the elections.

In 1986, the ruling party’s performance declined slightly. It won only 148 of the 177 contested and less than 56% of the votes.

In 1990, the election held after the Umno crisis -- that resulted in the split into Umno Baru and Semangat 46 -- the ruling party’s performance declined further to 127 of the 180 seats and about 53% of the popular votes.

In 1995, the ruling party recovered and won 162 of the 192 seats and almost 65% of the popular votes, partly because the opposition was in chaos. Semangat 46 closed down soon after that and most of its leaders/members rejoined Umno.

In 1999 (due to another split in Umno and the formation of Parti Keadilan Nasional) the ruling party’s performance declined to 148 of the 193 seats and only 56% of the popular votes.

In 2004, the ruling party recovered and won 198 of the 219 seats and more than 64% of the popular votes. This was under a new Prime Minister, Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, who took over only a few months before the election.

In 2008, the ruling party won only 140 of the 222 seats and only 52% of the popular votes. Tun Abdullah was forced to resign soon after that.

The Malaysian voters are very a generous lot during the honeymoon period (like 1955, 1964, 1974, 1978 and 1982) but will punish the ruling party when there is internal strife (like 1969, 1990 and 1999). So, when Malaya saw independence, when Malaysia was formed, when Malaysia had a new Prime Minister and the Prime Minister was still in his honeymoon period, etc., the ruling party would do well. When the ruling party is facing internal strife or the honeymoon was over, it suffers.

Najib Tun Razak took over in 2009, more than two years ago. He should have called for a general election while he was still enjoying his honeymoon like what Tun Razak Hussein, Tun Hussein Onn, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi did.

Now, the honeymoon is over. People do not love Najib as much as they did when he first took over as Prime Minister back in 2009. And, as the statistics above have shown, once the honeymoon is over, you no longer get the peoples’ support.

Najib would have done better if he had called for the 13th General Election back in 2010. If he waits till 2012 or 2013, he is going to suffer (by then he would have been PM for three or four years respectively). And the longer he waits the worse it will be for him.

For the opposition, it is better that the general election is called later rather than sooner. In fact, if the election is held now, it will be a 50:50 situation. Both the opposition and the ruling party will face an uphill task.

Back in 2010, the opposition would not have performed so well. The ruling party would have been able to regain some ground it lost in 2008. In 2012 or 2013, the opposition will be able to perform better.

So, time is on the side of the opposition and the longer the time, the better. Time is not in Najib’s favour and the longer the time, the worse it is for him.

That is what the statistics show and statistics do not lie.

** Sabah and Sarawak not part of the Federation yet

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