Tag Archives: Umno

Rural Malay voters will be the kingmakers in GE15

Despite the bombastic rhetoric by Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi — who is facing corruption charges in court — and his party cohorts — who are also facing corruption charges in court — that the Malays will only vote for Umno, that opposition parties can’t handle a general election during the monsoon period and that they are doomed to lose, they don’t seem entirely convinced.

If they were, they would go into the 15th General Elections (GE15) alone with its small Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition in a do-or-die fight. For a long time, Zahid declared that Umno/BN would go into GE15 alone without its former coalition partners Bersatu and PAS. But, yesterday, Zahid gave orders to its cyber troopers to stop attacks on PAS, which can only mean, at the barest minimum, that Umno is now open to working with PAS again and especially as a partner in an expanded BN coalition.

Either Zahid wants to go along with PAS’ notion of a united ummah (Muslim community) or he knows but does not want to publicly admit it for fear of losing Malay votes that he is not confident of en bloc Malay support for Umno/BN in the Umno heartland and need partners to form a government.

The battleground in GE15 will be the Umno heartland where its Malay majority voters will become the kingmakers of GE15. It would do well for all political parties to factor this fact into their election campaign strategies.

The Malay rural heartland is synonymous with the Umno heartland because this is where most of the Malay constituencies are found and which traditionally gave Umno its unassailable majority. Though the number of Malay voters is a minority as the majority have left their rural homes to the urban areas where they are now a majority, the number of parliamentary constituencies there remains the same and advantageous for Umno to defend and hold.

But in GE14 that Umno stronghold broke when former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was able to swing about 10% of the rural Malay vote to Pakatan Harapan (PH) which he led to form the next government. PH lost much of that vote back to Umno in byelections and due to other factors, the PH government fell.

The point, however, is that a 10% swing in rural Malay vote was possible then. Is a 10% or more swing possible in GE15? It is possible on one factor alone — former prime minister Najib Razak’s conviction and incarceration.

In Malaysia, there has been no precedent of a former prime minister being sent to jail. Now, one has and GE15 will show if there will be a fallout that results in a change in the voting patterns of Malay voters who once supported him.

GE15 will prove whether Malay voters in Umno’s traditional stronghold have been convinced of Umno’s culpability and buckle the traditional trend of blindly voting for Umno, or not.

Right up to Umno’s successes in recent elections Najib was still a free man and he could present an image of himself as being still innocent until proven guilty. But, he is now in jail and his fellow cohorts in Umno will find it difficult to sell his innocence to their Malay voter base.

Najib’s jailing and the appeal of Zahid’s recent corruption case will cast doubts on Umno’s narrative that the corruption cases are “politically-motivated”. So, Umno will suffer some loss of votes but the extent of it is what GE15 will show and will be of concern to political parties.

Where will Umno’s loss of votes go to? There are only two other parties that can offer any challenge to Umno in its stronghold, namely Bersatu and the new NGO, Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA), led by Mahathir’s new party Pejuang. Both will pick up some votes. Whatever votes GTA gets will show the level of support it has in the Malay heartland. Against Mahathir, Bersatu is unlikely to win enough votes to gain an advantage over other parties.

Bersatu and PAS, due to their association with Umno and their poor performance in government should also expect a loss of votes, which would turn out to be to GTA’s advantage.

Treating GTA as unproven and irrelevant would be a grave mistake. As events have turned out up to now, GTA is the only untainted organization that can offer Umno a good fight. Umno would want its voter base to believe Bersatu is its threat but it isn’t because against it, Umno is likely to win because it is more experienced. Against GTA, it is harder to predict now.

However, GTA is alone in the fight to defeat Umno. Even if it wins a number of seats it may not be able to form the next government unless opposition parties choose to ally with it. Opposition parties stand to gain much more if they allied with GTA than stand against it.

In the urban areas where opposition parties have solid support, diehard supporters will continue to vote for them. It is the fence-sitters who failed to support them in the recent state elections who need to be wooed. Among them are those who are dead set against any alliance with Mahathir and those who are not.

By allying with GTA, opposition parties stand to lose the support of the anti-Mahathirists but may gain the support of the rest because an alliance with GTA could mean a return to government which opposition supporters may want. The latter strategy holds greater sway over the former because a government with GTA and its allies would mean that Umno will be unable to form the next government.

The strategy for GE15 should be to ensure that Umno does not return to government. An Umno government will hold the nation to ransom to compromise national institutions so that Umno leaders get what they want for themselves as evidenced in the past.

As long as opposition parties keep a distance from GTA, they are communicating to the fence-sitters that they are leaving open the possibility of a tie-up with Umno/BN. They would then lose the support of the non-anti-Mahathirists. Whether the latter is a bigger majority than the anti-Mahathirists is left to be seen but it is a risk that should not be taken because any union with Umno/BN is detrimental to the nation and should be ruled out completely.

A loose tie-up with GTA as an ally, on the other hand, will send a clear signal to voters nationwide that opposition parties are keen to form the next government without the Umno/BN baggage and will present a united front to achieve that objective. That message may appeal to the majority again, including urban and rural voters.

It will certainly give rural Malay voters who wish to abandon Umno the hope that their votes won’t go to waste. That would definitely break Umno’s stronghold in the Malay heartland.

For that to happen, PH must be prepared to give up PKR president Anwar Ibrahim as the next prime minister. Whether with Umno or GTA, Anwar will not be prime minister, that is certain.

In a government with GTA, in the absence of experienced candidates for the prime ministership, Mahathir may be needed, preferably, in an advisory capacity with a prime minister-designate he can work with. Opposition parties need to work that out among themselves.

The conclusion is simply this: Working with GTA will give rural Malay voters a boost to consider a practical and real alternative and give hope to the rest that a non-Umno government can be formed which can only mean more votes for opposition parties. Working against GTA will leave the status quo unchanged, which means woe upon Malaysia!

The power is in the people

If Pakatan Harapan (PH) parties PKR, DAP and Amanah are open to forging a pact with Umno post the 15th general elections (GE15), they should come out in the open and say so. They should not make non-committal statements and then after GE15 declare that they have no choice but to join forces with Umno. That would be deceiving the people!

DAP secretary-general Anthony Loke recently said that DAP may have to be open to working with Umno in order to form a majority government to save Malaysia. This was followed by a statement by PKR president Anwar Ibrahim who said that any alliance with Umno would only be a “worst-case” scenario.

Both these leaders’ statements clearly reveal that they are willing to work with Umno in the event no party or coalition wins a clear majority to form a government.

That should not be the case. Umno should not be allowed to form a government by itself or by leading a coalition of parties simply because it will see the return of money politics as has been revealed by the ongoing court cases. And only Opposition MPs can stop them by resisting them — not joining them!

If for whatever reason PH parties are open to forming an alliance with Umno, they should make their intentions clear to their voters before the latter goes to vote! If the voters still vote for them, then, of course, the parties are free to go ahead with any alliance with Umno.

The fact that they have not firmly declared their intention seems to imply that PH parties are not confident their voters will accept their reasoning if they expressed it, which can only suggest that PH parties are playing a game with the voters by not clearly stating their stand on this issue.

Don’t deceive the voters. PH parties are already facing a credibility gap judging by the fact that they have lost most of the seats they held in the recent state elections, which means their voters are unsure of the credibility of their leaders.

If PH parties want to restore their credibility in the eyes of the voters, tell them the truth and explain the difficult position their parties are in and trust the judgment of the voters.

PH parties need to understand that there is no such thing as a “worst-case scenario”, as if they have no choice. The truth is that they have a choice but they don’t want to take it.

The choice is in two areas. Firstly, they have to work with other opposition parties not necessarily in a coalition but in a loose collaboration where opposition parties do not undermine each other. As a result, should the election results favour them, it would be easier to form a coalition government.

Even if Umno turns out to be the Malay-based party with the largest number of seats (considering the negative publicity created by the court cases of its leaders, the figure may be less than the 39 seats Umno currently holds), and if no party joins it, Umno will be unable to form a government.

However, the combined number of Malay seats and non-Malay seats won by Opposition parties will be sufficient to form a government. In other words, Umno can be ignored and should be!

Secondly, Anwar has to rethink his ambition to become prime minister. If after an honest explanation to the voters, PKR wins more seats, Anwar will be in a commanding position to negotiate with fellow Opposition parties, including regarding his candidature as PM.

If, however, he fails to win enough seats he will have to accept the fact that he has lost leverage to negotiate and go along with other nominations for the premiership.

The confidence to negotiate comes from the support MPs get from the grassroots. Malaysian politicians need to understand that their confidence comes not from government positions or who they know or pacts and alliances but from their voter base.

There is no point in holding government positions and making a mess of governance as we have witnessed in the past two years. And, there’s no point in submitting memorandums to the king to call for a royal commission of inquiry as Bersatu and Amanah politicians did with regard to the RM6 billion spent on ships that were not delivered. What can the king do aside from making a comment like he did regarding the Smoking and Tobacco Control Act where he added that it was up to Parliament to resolve the issue?

The king knows what Malaysian politicians don’t seem to understand: that the latter has been vested with authority by the constitution to resolve such issues in Parliament. The fact that Malaysian politicians immediately seek the king’s or China’s or the US’s help simply reflects their own lack of confidence to navigate the authority bestowed on them to solve political issues. If they can’t solve problems, how on earth can they govern and, therefore, why elect them?

Confidence comes from the support of the voter base. So, it is to them that politicians must first go to get support. Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad understands this very well and that is the reason why he has got small parties, including his own, Pejuang, to form Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA) which plans to contest in Umno-held seats.

GTA may lose all the seats it contests in GE15 or it may win a few which would dent Umno’s count of MPs. GTA should not be written off. If it wins some seats from Umno, it may be a game changer in GE15 because it means a loss of support for Umno from its very own voter base. That may trigger a domino effect and swing support to GTA.

This happened to some extent in GE14. GTA is new and with little support. That support may pick up in the near future. Until then it is hard to predict if GTA will lose all or win some in GE15. But the strategy of going to the people is commendable. GTA just needs more believers to follow it.

Why Umno still stands today

It can be easily concluded from the exposés by Umno politicians of their leaders that their party, Umno, is heading towards self-destruction. That may happen in the future but unlikely in the imminent future such as in the coming general election.

The point to note is that it is not the leaders who determine Umno’s political standing. Leaders come and go but it is the supporters who ensure that whoever stands representing Umno in their constituency gets voted in to represent them in government.

Since Merdeka, Malay voters in the traditional rural heartland have been ingrained with the belief that Umno is the only Malay party that represents them and that their support ensures Malay dominance in government. That thinking has not changed and until it is challenged, the rural vote is expected to go to Umno despite the fact that its leaders are facing criminal charges in court.

If Umno politicians are honourable and rise up to the trust their voters unquestioningly place in them, they will hold party elections and change the top leadership. If they can’t solve party issues, how then can they govern a nation and solve national issues?

The hope is that rural voters will be able to see that their leaders aren’t acting on behalf of their supporters but for their own interests. If they can see it, then, there’s a good chance that they may not vote for Umno.

The only way to make them see the truth before their eyes in order to defeat Umno is for other Malay parties to contest the same seats Umno contests and present an alternative to Umno.

The only parties that can do that are Bersatu, Pejuang and Warisan. If past elections are anything to go by, Bersatu seems to have lost support and the small parties, Pejuang and Warisan, remain untested.

Yet, that is the only way to defeat Umno — put another Malay candidate against the Umno candidate and go on an anti-corruption campaign that the voters can understand and relate with, together with their nasi periok issues.

This is Pejuang’s strategy. If it works, it may succeed in swinging some seats away from Umno as Bersatu under former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad succeeded in swinging about 10% of the rural Malay vote to Pakatan Harapan (PH) and enabled it to form the first PH government.

If the PH-government was short-lived, the underlying factor was its inability to hold on to the 10% Malay swing vote. It went back to Umno because Umno politicians went to town claiming that the PH government was dominated by non-Malays — a sufficient argument to spook the Malay voter!

Opposition parties understand this but their supporters may not. Opposition candidates may need to explain the realities of Malay politics to their constituents so that there is give and take between Malay and non-Malay parties rather than the typical confrontational standoff.

Malay-based opposition parties like PKR and Amanah could stand in the Malay rural seats if they are able to reach the Malay voter base but if they go on a campaign of good governance and reforms it will fall on deaf ears! The rural Malay voter wants to know if his/her nasi periok issues take priority.

There is, however, one particular demographic that has been largely overlooked — the Malay urban voters who, according to the 2020 census, are a majority and underrepresented in Parliament. PKR and Amanah, perhaps, need to target this voter base and win them over.

It’s a tough task but not impossible to achieve.

If opposition parties don’t change their strategies and convincingly reach out to Malay voters, the trend to vote for Umno will continue.

A possible way out of the current political gridlock

Umno signaled that it is preparing for the 15th General Election (GE15) soon when it announced that the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the government and the opposition Pakatan Harapan will not be extended beyond July 31, the date by which the government would not call for elections.

Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob has concurred with Umno. So, all political parties will now be gearing up for the GE at any time. If the GE is called soon after July 31, the passing of an anti-hopping bill, which is a condition of the MoU, will only benefit Umno.

So, it wasn’t surprising that Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi when announcing the end of the MoU on July 31, also said that the anti-hopping bill should be passed soon. That precisely is the reason why it should not be passed.

Umno will be unable to become the sole Malay-based party with the most number of MPs if some of its MPs left the party and joined other parties. Umno needs its stable of MPs intact in order to form a coalition with a majority. If a number of its MPs leave the party, Umno will not succeed in forming the next government.

Umno MPs, however, may be reluctant to leave Umno because they need Umno’s machinery and cash reserves to win their seats. But, after winning the seats, they may be more willing to switch sides.

For this reason alone, it might be better for the anti-hopping bill to be deferred, preferably to another time under an able leadership that can provide the oversight to table a well-thought-through ironclad bill that strengthens the constitution rather than compromise or clash with other parts of the constitution.

If the bill is deferred, opposition parties may risk losing some of their MPs in or after the GE. But that can be addressed with individual contracts with candidates who are selected to stand for election.

At this time in the history of our young nation, letting go of the anti-hopping bill until another time will be seen as a magnanimous move by the non-Malay and urban parties to give other Malay-based MPs room to move until a Malay-majority coalition is formed that excludes Umno, PAS and Bersatu. It may be an incentive for MPs to switch to other parties in order to defeat Umno.

Already, opposition MPs are suggesting a “big tent” strategy to bring opposition parties under one banner. If they succeed, it would be a clear indication that Umno or its coalition, Barisan Nasional, will be unable to get a majority. That might be another incentive for MPs currently in the government to leave their parties to join the Opposition.

The current gridlock that has kept political parties from moving ahead may be broken when MPs move to the Opposition that can form the next government. They would save themselves and the nation. Think about it!

How to beat the Najib factor

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin gave lengthy explanations to assure critics that all the data on MySejahtera is solely owned by the government. He further justified the viability of the app after its check-in function is retired as a base to build a digitised medical record system.

However, he failed to address the crux of the matter which is whether the “business arrangement” the government made with the app’s developer, KPIsoft (now known as Entomo (M) Sdn Bhd) was a result of direct negotiation or open tender.

Amidst all the explanations given that remains the unanswered question. Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob could have cast some light on the matter but he’s not around or recovering from a hectic trip to Qatar. He must be the only head of state who makes frequent official trips abroad during this pandemic — to Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Qatar — presumably to boost trade the outcome of which is mainly to open travel lanes, which he could have done via a telephone call!

While Sabri was away, his coalition partners were busy lining up to meet Pejuang chairman and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad. Perikatan Nasional (PN) partner Bersatu’s president Muhiyiddin Yassin had met up with Tun to ask for support to enable him (Muhyiddin) to be prime minister again. It seems PAS president Hadi Awang is also expected to meet up with Tun. Both may be manoeuvering to form a majority government in an alliance with Pejuang.

The above events simply indicate that the top leadership is absent in more ways than one and it is time for a general election (GE) to replace the current leadership so that we have a prime minister who is elected and who actually leads!

But, will a GE solve the leadership problem? If the current alliances do not change, it will not. That, perhaps, is why both Bersatu and PAS are looking to form a new alliance with Pejuang or vice versa.

Political parties and MPs need to be certain who they ally with. There are two parties to avoid at all cost: Umno, of course, with its court cluster leadership and PAS. PAS plays the field, seeing which party to ally with in the name of the so-called ummah but it had no problems standing by and watching while Muhyiddin — in the name of the ummah — broke up the ummah by sacking Tun and a few others. These same people are seeking Tun’s help now. How ironical! Let the people judge for themselves the nature of these politicians.

If Pejuang accommodates these two leaders, it will be alienating itself from the urban-based parties with whom is the best possibility for a coalition with a majority.

However, if MPs from Bersatu and PAS want to join Pejuang, that should be welcomed, in fact, encouraged!

PAS like Umno must be isolated because both are a threat to the multi-racial fabric that holds Malaysian society together. PAS will play the religious card in exchange for votes. That is unacceptable.

Umno, led by the court cluster, is the most imminent threat to the nation. If it is not isolated and comes back to power to lead the nation, the supremacy of the federal constitution will be at risk. That is what is at stake here.

Led by desperadoes president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and adviser and former prime minister Najib Razak, Umno will be willing to compromise the federal constitution to give constitutional monarchy sway over parliamentary democracy if in doing so they can get a royal pardon and escape sentencing that might mean a jail term, or for any other reason deemed fit for them.

Look at Johor. The mandate of the people was overruled by the decision of the Sultan over the choice of Mentri Besar and Umno did not fight for the people. With regard to the Maharani Energy Gateway project, according to Muar MP Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman, the Department of Environment had allegedly taken down an environmental impact assessment for the project from its official website after he raised concerns over a reclamation project linked to the Johor Sultan.

The EIA is a public document. Why was it removed? Apart from Syed Saddiq, who are speaking up for the people? PKR and DAP assemblypersons aren’t because they can’t. They were seen in photographs with the Johor royalty.

We can not afford to have a similar situation at the federal level where constitutional monarchy assumes a superior position over parliamentary democracy. Just like in Johor, that may happen if Umno comes back to power led by the court cluster.

That is the reason why Umno must be defeated and removed from all political equations.

There are four possible ways to achieve this objective.

Firstly, if Umno members can remove the court cluster from their leadership positions, they will save their party and it can be considered a possible ally. But that hasn’t happened and if at all it happens it will happen next year when party elections are held. That’s too long a wait.

Secondly, Umno MPs can leave the party and join other parties. That’s the best course of action if they want to protect the constitution rather than put money in their pockets. Well, they should do it before the anti-hopping bill is passed.

Thirdly, break all ties with Umno whether through a coalition at the state or federal level or the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU)with Pakatan Harapan (PH). Who knows, PH parties may win back the support they lost as a result of the MoU.

Frankly, after being thrown out of the state government in Johor by its coalition partner, PN should have resigned from the government at the federal level. Understandably that might be a difficult thing to do as it would trigger both federal and state elections. So, PN parties need to tolerate their awkward position a little longer.

If none of the above happens, then, the last and fourth solution is to call for a general election. If PN or Umno leaves the government or the MoU is ended and not extended, it would trigger a general election.

Apart from Umno, no other party or coalition wants a general election because they are not confident they can win enough seats to form a coalition with a majority. But if Umno is isolated, all the other parties can negotiate to form a coalition with a majority, perhaps even a two-thirds majority.

It’s a possible scenario if the over-riding objective is to defeat Umno rather than manoeuvre to become prime minister. The candidate for the prime ministership should be one who can get the support of the majority.

For the fourth scenario to happen one very important factor needs to be recognized. The new coalition or parties in that coalition must be able to win some of the seats in Umno’s strongholds and a few more Malay-majority urban seats.

For these voters, the issues are survival and essentials. Multi-culturalism, criticisms of race-based politics and other such favourite middle-class and urban issues will fall on deaf ears. Urban voters need to understand this and refrain from accusing those who can reach the rural and urban poor because without their votes Umno will win, and we can say goodbye to parliamentary democracy!

A general election is the best solution to be free from the Najib factor if Umno can be isolated before that. Between now and then the voters need to be watching: Which MP or party will choose to act to isolate Umno and save parliamentary democracy or stay put and save their pockets? We will then know who to vote for.

No moral grounds but still holding on to power

So, why are Umno leaders making noise again? This time over the defeat of the government bill to amend a clause in the Security Offences (Special Measures) 2012 Act (Sosma) once it expires on July 31, 2022.

The clause in question is Section 4(5) of Sosma, which allows for detention without a court order for up to 28 days. According to Section 4(11) of Sosma, the enforceability of Section 4(5) must be renewed by both Houses of Parliament every five years. Now, that the government bill has been defeated in the Dewan Rakyat, that provision has been removed from Sosma.

So, what’s bothering Umno MPs that this government motion was defeated? Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi expressed shock that the government bill was defeated and blamed it on the opposition saying “they have broken their promises, violated the agreement (MOU signed between the government and the opposition) and completely ignored their previous commitments.”

It has since been pointed out that a number of government and opposition (more government than opposition) MPs didn’t vote resulting in the defeat of the motion. And that the MOU clearly states that the opposition’s obligation to not vote or abstain only refers to a bill tabled by the government which, if failed to pass, will bring down the government. In this case, it wasn’t such a bill.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa — an Umno MP — earlier had also said that the defeat of the bill meant that the opposition’s action had effectively nullified the MOU.

Both Zahid and Annuar stand corrected and their criticisms have stopped but it reveals their sad lack of knowledge of available information and the will to act on correct information. Instead, they make a lot of noise at the risk of looking foolish and when found out behave as quiet as a mouse but will still hold on to their positions.

Joining his fellow party members, Umno’s Padang Rengas MP Nazri Aziz argued that it doesn’t matter if the MOU was affected or not but that it was a matter of perception and that the people would perceive it as the government — despite having a majority — lost.

Perceived as having lost, Nazri felt the Barisan Nasional (BN) has lost the “moral ground” to run the government. Oh, really? What about joining forces with other parties to form an unelected government that to this day refuses to prove its majority? That isn’t losing the “moral ground” to govern?

Strangely, when Umno’s candidate for the Mentri Besar’s post in Johor was rejected, there was little or no noise by Umno politicians. Even at the recently-concluded Umno general assembly, there was not a sound about the Johor MB issue.

It was a clear-cut case. It was within the Sultan’s powers as according to the federal constitution to reject a candidate and choose another from the list of names submitted to him. He exercised his rights under the highest power of the land, the constitution. But, why didn’t Umno exercise its rights under the constitution and, instead, deferred to the Sultan?

Do Umno MPs and assemblypersons know and understand the constitution to act within its authority? It’s within the state government’s authority to call for a confidence vote in the state assembly for the appointed MB. With more than a two-thirds majority, Umno could have rejected the candidate and sent the list back to the Sultan. Of course, it would have soured relations between the two but, as Nazri said, as a matter of perception the people would have seen Umno standing up for them.

They failed to do that and consequently lost the “moral ground” to lead the state government. Yet, they are there.

All this noise on issues that are not issues and silence over issues that are the real issues simply reflects a powerless and immoral government. The Umno-led government claims a majority but fails to defend the people’s choices. They have no moral grounds to govern at all.

Will they, then, step down? Unlikely. They need to remain in government for their own personal agendas. Meanwhile, whatever they do is simply a lot of hot air, shadow boxing. Useless activity.

Most of us the majority see through their antics. Unfortunately for us and fortunately for them, their voter base has bought into their spurious narrative.

I hope word gets around and reaches their voters that they are being led by their noses.

A strategy to stop the Najib factor

Some factions in Umno are clamouring for snap elections based on the party’s success in the Johor and Melaka state elections. If general elections are held soon, Umno might win again based on the formula on which it won the state elections. Then, again, it may not.

Umno won the Johor state elections on a very low voter turnout of 43%. According to Bangi MP Ong Kian Ming, out of the 40 seats Barisan Nasional (BN) — of which Umno is the leading party — won, 20 or half had less than 50% of the popular votes.

It was also reported that in the urban Malay-majority seats which Umno won, the combined votes that went to Perikatan Nasional (PN) and the opposition Pakatan Harapan (PH) made up a majority over the votes Umno got. In other words, the majority of the voters, perhaps even the majority of Malay voters, do not support Umno/BN.

That being the case, it is astonishing that former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s party, Pejuang, failed to win even one seat and instead lost all its deposits. It is important to find out why Pejuang lost so miserably as it would shed some light on the forces influencing Malaysian politics now.

Pejuang would not have gone into the Johor state elections if it didn’t have any support. It may not have formed the state government but, considering Tun’s stature, it would have won a few seats, at the least. The standard explanation given to explain Pejuang’s dismal performance in the Johor state elections is that the voters have rejected Tun and what he stands for. I beg to differ.

Tun represents a strong, albeit unbending, leadership. And, there were expectations that his party would make an impact in the Johor elections. But he fell seriously ill just before the elections and the immediate reaction to that fact was that both Pejuang and his supporters lost heart. It was a reality check for all. The prospect of a strong leadership began fading into history and Pejuang leaders had too short a time to prove that they could provide the strong leadership that their chairman represented.

Tun recovered and by the time Pejuang did, the available time was insufficient, as its president Mukhriz Mahathir explained, to engage the voters and show them their mettle. Meanwhile, the voters made a pragmatic decision: In the absence of a strong leadership, they voted for other parties.

Pejuang has been knocked down but it is not out. According to a Bernama report, Pejuang obtained 18,692 votes or 1.34% of the votes, which means it still has some support. That base support can be galvanized to create the momentum to draw increasing support if Pejuang rises to its feet, lifts up the torch that Tun has lit, stands up for this nation and lives up to its name. It all depends on Pejuang leaders now.

Why am I taking the trouble to talk about Pejuang? Let’s consider what would have happened if Pejuang had found a foothold in the Johor state assembly. Would Johor’s appointment of its Mentri Besar have been handled in the way it has?

Umno has more than a two-thirds majority in the state assembly. Any party with that kind of a majority that holds itself responsible for being accountable to its voters would have fought for its candidate. The prime minister is an Umno vice president and has the leverage to assert its federal government authority to back his party’s candidate in the state. Why did Umno acquiesce and gave in to a “higher power”?

The answer is in its court cluster leadership. Although it is answerable to the people and no one else, Umno’s court cluster would rather ensure its survival by not antagonizing the Johor Sultan whose support they might need at the state and federal levels and, especially, in the event they are convicted and need a royal pardon. That seems to be the only logical explanation.

The court cluster’s intentions are common knowledge and it revolves around one person, in particular, former prime minister and Umno advisor Najib Razak. Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi has publicly acknowledged that it was Najib’s influence that won Umno the majority to govern Johor.

But what is not logical is how the Najib factor is able to demolish all the opposition it has faced and create a power vacuum that is paving the way for his comeback, perhaps even as prime minister. In that power vacuum, vested interests are asserting themselves as in Johor and neither Zahid nor Najib is stopping it.

Instead, every competitor to Najib has been removed or made irrelevant. Muhyiddin has been removed. The formidable Mahathir, too, has been pushed aside and his party struck down. Sabri is a puppet in the hands of the court cluster. Election after election, the Najib factor is gaining ground on an incredulous and inexplicable unbroken winning streak!

There seems to be more than meets the eye to the reasons for the success of the Najib factor, a sleight of hand, pulling the strings to facilitate the survival of the court cluster by ensuring that all opposition to it is removed, and, in the process distorting the political reality. I suspect it is also creating the fear of repercussions should there be any opposition to the advance of the Najib factor.

That, perhaps, is why Umno politicians are unable to do what they know is constitutionally correct. All the noise they make simply masks the fear that if they oppose the Najib factor in any way they would be burnt as Muhyiddin, Mahathir and Pejuang have.

That sleight of hand which is the Najib factor is also common knowledge. My purpose is not to identify it but to expose its modus operandi based on what is evident and, more importantly, to declare that it can be stopped!

The Solution

Sever all links with the court cluster and the party of which they are members, which, in this case, is Umno.

Muhyiddin invited Umno to join PN as part of the Sheraton moves fully aware its leaders were facing criminal charges in court. Intentionally or not, he opened a channel for the Najib factor to access the corridors of political power and influence political outcomes. We have witnessed it in the return of Umno to power.

The only way to stop the Najib factor from spreading to achieve what it wants is to cut all links to it. By doing so, it will be disabled from influencing politics. Politicians and BN partners have to decide whether to remain in and with Umno. If they do and there is conflict in priorities against the priority of the Najib factor for self-preservation, be prepared to get burnt, and don’t say you weren’t warned!

PN is in a precarious situation. For the moment it is safe because Umno needs it to maintain a majority to remain in government. But, when interests conflict, the Najib factor interests will dominate and perhaps at PN’s expense. There has been some talk that some PN MPs are planning to join Umno/BN. Maybe, they should think twice, thrice, many more times or they may regret.

PH, too, needs to sever its link with the Umno-led government, which is the MoU it signed with the Sabri government. PH wants to preserve the MoU in order to introduce the anti-hopping bill. In the current political climate, the bill will deter Umno politicians from leaving and that might not be a good idea if the overriding objective is to cut ties to the Najib factor to leave Umno isolated.

An untethered Umno will be unable to form a majority government. Cutting links to Umno will precipitate a general election. By then, however, all the political parties except Umno will be set free from the creeping tentacles of the sleight of hand and can participate in the general elections in their own strengths. The outcomes will be determined by the interplay of the decisions made by politicians, political parties and voters and will be a true reflection of the support of the people.

It is the duty of the leaders to ensure that the voters are free to determine their own destiny. That will save the nation. They must act now to get back to the rule of law according to the constitution.

Minnows may dominate — if voter turnout is high

Former Johor Umno chief Mohamad Khaled Nordin claimed today that a dominant Umno in a BN coalition would offer political stability as there would be less bickering among coalition partners.

There may be less bickering simply because Umno would be calling the shots! Coalition partners would have no choice but to go along with Umno unless Umno chooses to accommodate them when it suits their purposes.

Non-Malays would have to be wary of a dominant Umno especially if Umno wins a majority of seats in its traditional strongholds which represent only a minority of the Malays because the majority of Malays are no longer there as they have migrated to the urban areas.

According to the 2020 national census, 75.1% of Malaysia’s population is urban and the remaining 24.9% is rural, which would suggest that the majority of the Malay population has now become urban.

When the reverse was true — when the majority of the Malay population was rural — the state and parliamentary constituencies were delineated in such a way as to give them majority representation. The Malay population distribution has changed due to urban migration but the constituencies have not been redelineated to cater to the change in the Malay population distribution.

As a result, the Malay rural areas are over-represented while the majority of Malays in the urban areas are under-represented. This is the reason why Malay parties can still form a majority on their number of rural seats.

This is also the reason why the Johor state elections are very important in showing if the under-represented Malay majority in the urban areas will come out to vote and choose the party that can best increase their representation and serves their interests.

If Umno returns as the dominant party in the Johor state elections on winning the majority of rural seats, it will be a return to the old Umno dictating politics to appease its over-represented conservative rural minority and it will be old politics all over again.

If however, Umno makes inroads in the urban Malay-majority seats and forms a majority government, there will be tension between rural and urban Malay interests and that would make it as politically unstable as the governments of the last two years unless Umno wins a majority of the urban Malay-majority seats, which is unlikely as many Malay parties are vying for the same seats.

The battle will be in the urban Malay-majority seats — if the urban Malay majority goes out to vote. It will be interesting to see if voter turnout will be high in these seats.

The first hurdle of parties whose candidates are standing for election in these seats is to draw the voters out. The next hurdle is to clearly outline what each party can offer.

After the Sheraton Move and the failures of the past two years, voters may be disenchanted and prefer not to vote. Johor voters need to be told that for the first time in Malaysian history they have a choice to change their destiny.

Pejuang, Muda and Warisan are the new parties they can choose from. They don’t have the baggage that Umno/BN, PKR/Pakatan Harapan and Bersatu/Perikatan Nasional parties come with. If the voters want to start on a clean slate, these are the parties to consider. These parties need to position themselves as such and work hard to engage the voters and present themselves as the best alternative to serve their interests.

The non-Malays, too, have a key role to play in the current political scenario — if they come out to vote. They too must be wooed to vote and not stay at home. Political parties need to clearly present to them what benefits they will gain from voting for them for a new better tomorrow. The parties representing them will have the chance to form a coalition with the Malay-based parties to form a government that truly represents all the people groups in the state.

Khaled who had spoken of a “dominant” Umno in the BN coalition as reported in the media also said that the BN’s approach to Malaysia’s multi-cultural background is “integration, not assimilation”. That may appeal to non-Malays. In practice, however, it may not be encouraged if it upsets Umno’s traditional voters.

The alternative is the new parties. Individually, they may not be dominant but together in a new coalition, the minnows may actually be able to deny Umno the dominant majority.

Towards that end, the new political parties need to work extra hard to convince the voters that they can deliver. Contrary to the pre-election consensus that Johor will follow Malacca in voting for Umno, all the focussed hard work of the new parties may actually pay off!

Muhyiddin’s delay plays into Umno’s hands

It’s obvious that Umno’s tactics to withdraw support for the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition is to force the resignation of PN leader Muhyiddin Yassin and pave the way for it to set itself up as a minority government.

If Muhyiddin resigns now, since we are still under emergency, the Agong can appoint Umno as a minority government — since no one candidate for the premiership can claim a majority now — in the same way Muhyiddin got himself and the PN Cabinet sworn in as the appointed government on March 1 last year .

By right such an appointment should face a no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat but if Muhyiddin didn’t face it, it is doubtful Umno would.

Muhyiddin has announced that a vote of confidence would be introduced at the parliamentary session beginning on Sept 7. However, it is reported that the Agong has advised that the vote be brought forward but Muhyiddin appears NOT to be complying.

It is hard to fathom Muhyiddin’s reason or reasons for not bringing forward a no-confidence vote. If it were just a contest of wills, it would be immature and unprofessional of Muhyiddin to go head on against the Agong’s advice because it would make it difficult for him to continue working with the one person who installed him and his gang as the government in the first place. Now it would seem as if Muhyiddin is changing the rules in order to remain in government.

Coupled with the fact that he does not have a proven majority, both reasons give the Agong ample room to set up a new administration, which, likely, will favour Umno as it is the largest Malay-based party and more closely aligned with the royal institution than the other Malay parties. This could result with the current crop of Umno leaders facing criminal charges in court to return to helm a minority government after royal pardons.

Another possibility is that Muhyiddin may be delaying in order to call for snap elections. That — like Umno forming a minority government — should never be allowed to happen. If the July 26-Aug 2 special parliamentary session was postponed on account of the covid-19, why is a snap election permissible? Self-serving twisted logic!

On the other hand, if Muhyiddin heeded the Agong’s advice and called for an earlier special parliamentary session for the specific purpose of facing a no-confidence vote, the MPs in the Dewan Rakyat will decide who is to be the next prime minister with a majority or whether they will support a minority government.

At the same time, it would spare the Agong the embarrassing possibility of having his address rejected by the MPs at the Sept 7 session which the suspicious MPs may decide to do to preempt the PN from deciding NOT to go ahead with a no-confidence vote since the MPs had not rejected the Agong’s address. Judging from its actions so far, the PN is not above such sneakiness.

All things considered, bringing forward the date for a no-confidence vote in Parliament is the smartest solution to the current political impasse. The MPs will first vote for or against the PN. If the vote goes against the PN coalition, the govt falls and the task begins to choose the next legitimate administration.

If Muhyiddin does not bring forward the date for a no-confidence vote against him, he will be forcing the Agong’s hand, and the delay may end up with Umno being appointed as a minority government and Muhyiddin can thank himself for that.

Show your courage, call for a confidence vote now

For the first time since he seized power in February last year, Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition leader Muhyiddin Yassin made the correct constitutional decision to face a no-confidence vote in Parliament. Even so, he fumbled and undermined his own decision by delaying the vote by a month.

The legitimacy of the government is of urgent national importance. Any prime minister or MP worth his/her salt would immediately call for a vote in the Dewan Rakyat to test his/her support, especially when a large partner in the incumbent coalition claims that more than 11 MPs in its party, namely Umno in this case, have withdrawn their support for Muhyiddin.

PN is said to have a maximum of 110 votes in its favour in the Dewan Rakyat. Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi submitted a list of 11 names of those who no longer support Muhyiddin to the Agong, of which eight names are confirmed. So, how can Muhyiddin claim he has a majority?

At this point whatever numbers Zahid or Muhyiddin claims to have are just that — claims. Until these claims are tested in the Dewan Rakyat, they remain unproven and provides no constitutional basis for any party or coalition to claim the right to form a government. So, if Muhyiddin’s PN does not have a majority and he refuses now to prove his claim that he has, what right does he have to remain in government?

He must resign or prove his majority now. He can’t wait. The playing field is level now. Waiting for a month is just a delay tactic to use his incumbency to his advantage and that is giving him unfair advantage. It must not be allowed.

Unfortunately, a precedent has been set — by himself — when in last February he got himself and his cohorts sworn in to form the government although his majority was in question. He failed to prove his majority by facing a no-confidence vote in Parliament.

He’s doing the same thing again. Remaining in government without constitutional authority.

Muhyiddin needs to understand that he came to power on the graces of the Agong — not by the constitutional authority vested on the Dewan Rakyat. Since he is using the authority of the Agong to govern, he is obligated to listen to what the Agong asks. He can not invoke his constitutional authority now when he never got it from the Dewan Rakyat until December last year when the Budget was passed giving him legitimacy.

Now his legitimacy is in question again because his majority is in question. The Agong has wisely advised that a special parliamentary session be called to discuss the emergency ordinances. Muhyiddin fails to heed the Agong and holds a Q & A session in the Dewan Rakyat with no mention of the emergency ordinances except to announce that they have been revoked. Then he postpones the last day of the meeting.

According to the news portal, Sarawak Report, the Agong advised Muhyiddin to resign three times in their last pre-Cabinet meeting but the latter said he will face a no-confidence vote to prove his majority. We don’t know if it was agreed that the no-confidence vote will be in September or that it was understood that it would be held sooner.

The postponed special parliamentary session can be easily recalled for a vote of confidence in a matter of days. Why is Muhyiddin delaying? If he has learnt from his mistake and want to correct it by following the constitution, he must call for a Dewan Rakyat sitting immediately not resort to delaying tactics to gain an advantage.

Does he not know that delaying proving a ruling coalition’s majority, and subsequently its right to govern, will only create more political and economic uncertainties as it allows for intense “frog jumping” and keeps the economy from moving forward?

The FBM KLCI remains jittery and in the doldrums unable to rise up despite Muhyiddin’s public statements. Covid 19 deaths keep breaking daily records, yet Muhyiddin asks if a change of government is good for the nation and if it will affect the National Recovery Plan (NRP).

Anyone looking at the statistics will say, a change of government is the best option. A change of administration will only cause some problems with the national vaccination programme but with good leadership that can be overcome quickly. As for the NRP, what of it? We have not seen any evidence of it. No setback there and no other aspect of government will be affected because the government is running rudderless. Instead, I suspect, there will be all-around relief!

Besides, former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s National Recovery Council under his strong and experienced leadership will do a much better job than what we are seeing now and it will draw able people from across the board.

An immediate no-confidence vote is essential for political stability and for the PN to justify its right to remain in government. If PN truly has a majority as it claims, why doesn’t it prove it with a no-confidence vote? Since February last year, PN has been claiming it has a majority but refuses to prove it. Instead, it resorted to luring MPs over and indebting them to Muhyiddin.

A no-confidence vote in the Dewan Rakyat, on the other hand, will free MPs to vote according to their conscience despite all the allurements. That will be the true test of whether Muhyiddin has the support he claims he has. The more important question is whether he has the courage to face the truth about the alleged support for him and the legitimacy of his coalition.