Malaysiakini : “If Mahathir cannot help create a wave of change among the rural
Malay voters for the 14GE in the remaining 100 days, then no other
political leader could accomplish this ‘Mission Impossible’.” – Lim Kit Siang
| The quote by Lim Kit Siang that opens this piece is open for debate.
Most post-election analyses have determined that Mahathir did not create
the Malay tsunami that his allies hoped he would.
For the record,
in numerous pieces before the 14th general election, I advocated that
Harapan should stop waffling and endorse the former prime minister for
the top job, using the same line of reasoning as Kit Siang.
upcoming Semenyih by-election comes on the heels of the Cameron
Highlands debacle. Post-May 9, the Malay power brokers in Harapan and
their non-Malay enablers have failed to counter the Malay and Islamic
narratives of the Umno/PAS union. This by-election is seen as a
bellwether for Malay support of Harapan, and Harapan political
operatives tell me that they are leaving nothing to chance.
thought that Harapan playing the BN game in Cameron Highlands was bad,
you will witness the full glory of neo-BN in the Semenyih by-election.
Most analysts agree that Harapan has to play the race and religion card
in Semenyih. This has received blowback from many quarters, which
Harapan partisans have been calling and emailing me,
outraged that the strategy seems to be to court the Malay vote in the
upcoming Semenyih by-election, which runs contrary to the idea of New
Malaysia. Firstly, there is no New Malaysia. This should be evident by
If Bersatu and Mahathir were needed before the election to
court the rural and semi-urban Malay vote, why is there opposition to
tactics and strategies to maintain the Malay vote post-May 9? Lim Kit
“Pakatan Harapan lacks any personality capable of convincing rural
Malay voters to support the pact, aside from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.”
2017, Kit Siang said that while he did not agree with all of Mahathir’s
reasoning for not allowing the DAP to contest under the Bersatu ticket –
if the DAP were de-registered – he understood his stand. Meanwhile,
Mahathir said that PPBM (Bersatu) needed to remain a Malay party because
the Malays were still communal.
said: “If they (Malay voters) see a multi-racial party, they will not
support it. They (Pakatan Rakyat) got a lot of support from the Chinese,
but little Malay support and without it, you can’t win. So we can
replace Umno with our group (Bersatu), not by being like Umno, but we
would be a Malay party.”
Kit Siang seemed fine with this and offered a kind of restatement of old Alliance-style politics when he claimed
– “Bersatu was still more Malaysian than Umno, as the former wants
Malays to unite and work with other citizens, while the latter wants
Malaysians to remain Malays, Chinese and Indians and is even trying to
polarise the next elections as a battle between the Malays and Chinese.”
this whole idea of Bersatu and Malay power brokers playing the race and
religion card in Semenyih as something anathema to New Malaysian
politics is horse manure. There are two kinds of partisans. The ones who
understand they were making a deal with the devil to oust Najib, and
those who believed there was a new Malaysia.
'RM90 million scandal a positive strategy'
and PAS people who I talk to are feeling good about the upcoming
Semenyih by-election. Umno has never been the underdog, one said, and if
we take Semenyih, we would have demonstrated that we are still a force
to be reckoned with in the Malay community, an old Umno friend, said
Meanwhile, PAS political operatives tell me that they
are going to be playing up the “persecution” card in their campaigning.
“This RM90 million scandal could be a positive strategy for us, because
the AG is a non-Malay, and we can argue that this is some sort of
religious persecution,” one of them said.
Indeed, for people who
held their noses and voted for Harapan, knowing full well what they were
getting into, the stench is becoming unbearable. But what else is there
for Harapan to do, asked a non-Malay political operative who spoke to
me a few days ago. People, non-Malays, talk about the “Malay” strategy
as if it were something in the past and not the strategy Harapan
employed to give it federal power.
I keep asking Malay political
operatives in Harapan why they do not offer a counter-Malay narrative to
what Umno and PAS are offering. The answer is always the same. The
grassroots are not interested. Those who voted for Harapan are mocked by
those who did not vote for Harapan, as being lied to by Mahathir. They
took a chance on us and now we have to deliver like Umno, a Harapan
political backer informed me.
I argued that this is the problem.
The Malay political elite does not want to change the narrative. The
non-Malay establishment has calculated that it is better that they play
along, instead of making waves, allowing the discourse to be dominated
by this New Malaysia horse manure which plays into the hands of the far
I often reference this Bersatu strategist I like talking to
because she gives it to me straight: “Commander, it is like this. The
Malays are in a win-win situation now. Those who did not vote for us are
not going to be marginalised by Harapan, and they know it. “Those
who voted for us are a bit confused as to what exactly the Harapan
Malay agenda is. PAS and Umno are pointing to those policies which they
say usurp Malay rights and Islam. We have to play the race and religion
card and if any non-Malay member says how can we do this, they are liars
because they knew this would be a fight for the Malay vote.”
the real question about playing the Malay tune, in Semenyih and beyond,
is how far right is the Malay Harapan establishment willing to go, to
defeat the Umno and PAS union, and how far is the non-Malay
establishment willing to follow the Harapan Malay establishment?