Towards Putrajaya: PR’s Triple Challenges
I. 2008 and 2013 General Elections
Three months before the 2008 general election, I had told some friends and comrades that the Opposition was going to do well in the election.
The results were much better than I thought. I did not predict that BN would lose its two thirds parliamentary majority; neither did I think that BN would lose state power in Penang, Perak, Kedah and Selangor.
What were the signs that I saw? Among the key signs were a politically awakened Indian community, unhappy civil servants who would privately complained and grumbled against the BN government, Malay factory workers who would show their disapproval of the government during lunch breaks.
After the 2008 poll results, there were some voters who had said that they did not want to vote out BN state governments in Penang, Perak and Selangor but they over voted. Apparently, there was some expression of regret.
However, such talk disappeared after one year or so.
The main reason I believe is because many Malaysians saw that the PR controlled state governments, especially Penang and Selangor, were able to perform well.
The subsequent success of PR in spreading the political message of change has evoked stronger sense of hope.
While public disappointment with former premier Tun Abdullah’s failure to bring about promised reforms after being given the strongest people’s mandate in the 2004 general election caused BN’s dismal electoral performance in 2008 general election, it was clear that the public hunger for change was the main reason for the 2013 Malaysian Tsunami.
In 2008 political tsunami, we saw many Malaysians, especially the younger generation of voters who would not be influenced by BN’s politics of race. BN’s manipulation of hudud laws to frighten the people did not have much impact due to effective rebuttals and counter attacks from PR.
In 2013, we saw more Malaysians rejecting politics of race and fear of BN. The end result was the urban, semi urban and youth political tsunami which only the BN leaders had eyes to see but yet refused to accept the fact.
I observe a big difference between the people’s reaction towards the 2008 and 2013 polls results.
As I said, there was expression of regret among some people immediately after the 2008 general election, but there was none after the 2013 general election.
In fact, there was strong public anger against the BN for “stealing the election from PR”.
Even MCA’s non representation in the Cabinet did not evoke much reaction or worry among the Chinese community.
Nevertheless it is a question of time before MCA crawls back into the Cabinet.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib has recently said that BN lost in the perception of war.
Crime, corruption, injustice, incompetence etc are certainly not public perceptions.
Najib can choose to behave like an ostrich that buries its head in the sand but the fact is that it is because of PR’s ability to offer hope to the people that has made so many Malaysians decide to vote for change.
It was this hope that resulted in 84.5% of Malaysians casting their vote on the 5th of May, a record in Malaysian electoral history.
It was the public hunger for change that made Pakatan win an additional 7 parliament seats, from 82 in 2008 to 89 in 2013. Pakatan also won an additional 32 state seats.
It was also the people’s hunger for change that resulted in Pakatan winning 51% of the popular votes.
The 13 the general election was the first time in Malaysian electoral history that an Opposition coalition won more votes than the ruling government.
II. Triple Challenges towards the 14 Th General Election.
May 5 was a great day as Pakatan had, despite all odds, scored improved results in the 2013 general election. But it too was a day when many Malaysians cried. It was a real sad day as many had waited the long hoped for political change to come about.
But perhaps the May 5 polls results does give us a consolation – that if 2008 political tsunami was seen by some as a political flute, 2013 Malaysian tsunami was certainly a sign of strong Malaysians’’ resolve though failed attempt to bring about a new government.
And the 2013 results shall serve as a strong foundation for Pakatan to propel to greater heights at the next coming general election.
The challenges of next general election will certainly be tougher as a much bruised BN will resort to all means and ways, to stop Pakatan from making inroads into BN’s traditional formidable areas.
In a recent interview with Malaysiakini, PAS central committee member Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said Umno had successfully exploited the fears many Malays that a stronger Pakatan Rakyat would mean a dominant DAP.
Dzulkefly said that this strategy was used by Umno with much success among the rural and even some urban Malays, which surprisingly included Malay professionals, former bureaucrats and technocrats.
He said that these key groups of voters had voted against PAS and Pakatan in the just concluded 13th general election.
This shows that the greatest obstacle that PR must fight against is still Umno’s politics of race.
Nevertheless, the 13 th general election results have given PR a stronger foundation in our struggle to capture Putrajaya at the next election.
I foresee the triple key challenges for PR in our continued journey to capture Putrajaya:-
1. PR must continue to be the beacon of hope for all Malaysians regardless of race, religion, or region.
2. PR needs to ensure that our political messages can effectively reach the rural areas of West Malaysia and interior areas of East Malaysia.
3. PR needs to continue to fight for electoral reforms to ensure free, fair and clean elections.
I end by suggesting that PR sets up a Special Task Force to identify, discuss and decide the strategies to accomplish the triple challenges.