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Saturday, November 29, 2014

Rightist rhetoric won’t help Umno win GE14

With or without Chinese support, Umno risks alienating its largest vote bank.
COMMENT
SPRCan Umno truly survive without the support of the Chinese community? That seems to be the question left on the lips of the delegates at the Umno general assembly 2014, as there are no signs so far that the trend of overwhelming Chinese support for the opposition will change anytime soon. The usual tactics of trying to buy off the community have failed, and MCA has been rendered toothless and ineffective in marshalling it’s forces to gain back the lost support.
To claim to be able to remain in power without the support of the Chinese community is an ambitious claim indeed. After all, the Chinese community represents the second largest ethnic segment in Malaysia after the Bumiputera community. To remain in power without the Chinese and with a comfortable majority requires BN to not only win over the Indian community, but also all of the Bumiputera voters.
And there Umno runs into another considerable roadblock. You see, Sabah and Sarawak have long been considered BN’s reliable vote bank, the main reason it remains in power today. Notwithstanding the complaints that money politics has long fuelled this monopoly over East Malaysia, Sabah and Sarawak are an even more important support base for BN in the coming general elections and may be the key to deciding who remains in power. The indigenous population of East Malaysia are also considered Bumiputera and are entitled to the same rights and privileges accorded to the Malay community.
So what is this road block? It lies in the fact that East Malaysia’s Bumiputera population is not homogeneously Muslim like it is in West Malaysia. A large segment of the East Malaysian Bumiputera population proclaims Christianity as it’s religion, and the recent practice of right-wing elements to demonize the religion may well come back to bite them come the next general election should the rhetoric be continued.
Umno walks on thin ice with it’s current right-wing rhetoric. It runs the risk of alienating its biggest vote bank. Umno’s defensiveness with regard to religion would apply as well to the voters of Sabah and Sarawak. Religion has always been rife with potential for interfaith strife despite the generally peaceful teachings found in every faith, and adding fuel to the already tense atmosphere of Malaysia can only be described as a bad idea.
In all truth, it is Umno’s prerogative if it chooses to forsake any chance of winning back the Chinese vote. After all, the chances of it doing so are slim anyway, especially with the perception among the community that Pakatan Rakyat is doing an excellent job of administering the states of Selangor and Penang.
The right-wing must find a way to balance out it’s insistence on demonizing the other cultures and religions of this country. Chinese vote or not, it would do well to remember that Malaysia is played out as a multi-cultural, multi-racial country, and is terrifyingly not homogenous. Every community will have it’s own set of demands and needs that must be fulfilled by the party that intends to rule. Sabah and Sarawak are the most important elements in ensuring that BN keeps power. So the coalition had better get its act straight before it loses that fixed deposit to parties that promise to uphold the values and demands of the communities there.

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