By Jamari Mohtar
May 8, 2018
We have come to the final lap of the 14thGeneral Election (GE 14) with just a day left before Polling Day.
On March 28, which is a month before Nomination Day, I have written that the question is no longer whether the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) will triumph in GE 14. BN will definitely win! The issue then was whether BN would be able to regain its two-thirds majority.
I had also predicted then BN is set to regain its two-thirds majority with the proviso that one week in politics is such a long time that anything goes, as far as outcome of a GE is concerned.
But with one more day left before Polling Day, the die is somewhat more or less cast already, as obviously a day to the countdown, things are shaping up a bit more compared to a hazy fuzzy notion when the countdown is about a week or more to go.
So, which party will be the winner?
A majority of political analysts and observers have now joined the bandwagon of forecasters predicting BN will win. For more details on this, see:
So far, none has predicted a BN victory with a two-thirds majority. Most see it as a current norm for a government with a simple majority, as seen today in many countries with a parliamentary democracy.
But is the attainment of a two-thirds victory for BN really out of the question? I don’t think so. Here’s why I think there is more than a 60% chance for BN regaining its two-thirds majority.
Sabah and Sarawak
In GE13, out of the 133 seats won by BN, a third of it was contributed by BN’s fixed deposit states – Sabah and Sarawak.
This time around, the two East Malaysia’s states can be expected to contribute more seats to BN for the simple reason of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak’s frequent and tireless visits to the two states during the lead-up to GE14 and even during campaigning itself.
This is opposed to a nil visit by the major leaders of the Opposition, especially Pakatan Harapan’s supremo Tun Mahathir.
If time and again, Sabah and Sarawak have been proven to be the fixed deposit states of BN during election time, contributing to BN’s success at the polls, it makes more sense for the Opposition to campaign there as often as they can.
Instead, they were so peninsular-centric in their campaign strategy that it seems they have forgotten Sabah and Sarawak are parts of Malaysia. They have forgotten the painful lesson that they would have won GE13 if not for the role of Sabah and Sarawak as BN’s fixed deposit states.
But for the sake of argument, even if Tun Mahathir were to campaign in Sabah and Sarawak, it will not amount to very much, firstly because of his gaffe in describing Sarawakians as a bunch of lazy, greedy and slow people.
This is proof of at 93, his mental capacity has degenerated to the extent that he can’t tell the difference between the strategic value of when to open his mouth and when to keep it shut in the lead-up to GE14.
Secondly, Tun Mahathir’s missing in action (MIA) in Sabah and Sarawak is yet another proof that at 93, he just doesn’t have the stamina to criss-cross the whole of Malaysia to try his luck at becoming the so-called 7thPrime Minister of Malaysia, simply because his ageing body wouldn’t allow him to do that.
In the case of Sabah, the Opposition is banking on Datuk Shafie Apdal’s Warisan Party. But being new, the party has no track record. Shafie’s track record is all about when he was in Umno, serving as one of its Vice Presidents.
It’s difficult to see him carrying Sabah, as he is strongest only in his home base in Semporna (not the kretek Sampoerna) because of the fractious nature of the Opposition there. Moreover, he is also embroiled in the politics of hate – his grudges against the Chief Minister of Sabah, Datuk Musa Aman is legendary among Umno politicians.
Advantages of incumbency
In a parliamentary democracy like Malaysia, BN as the incumbent ruling coalition, is afforded with many advantages which among other things include the advantage of calling an early election (surprise advantage), the advantage of re-drawing electoral boundaries and the advantage of being still the government while campaigning is on.
These are provided for in the constitution – a universal phenomenon everywhere in the world in a parliamentary democracy. No opposition party anywhere in the world has ever sought to rescind these constitutional provisions on winning an election for the first time. Apparently, it too wants to enjoy these constitutional advantages on assuming power!
Redress or remedies for any perceived or real abuses of the implementation of these constitutional provisions can always be sought through the court.
Moreover, in a first-past-the-post system like Malaysia, Singapore, Britain and many other commonwealth countries, winning the popular votes is meaningless if you don’t win enough seats. But it doesn’t mean that with all these advantages of the incumbent, it is impossible for the Opposition to win the election.
Japan’s Opposition had proven this to be possible, when it put an end to a 54-year almost continuous winning streak of the ruling Liberal Democratic Party (LDP) in 2009, when the opposition Democratic Party (DP) won a crushing election victory.
Japan’s DP managed to do this with sheer hard work over the years whose result can only be realised many years later and not just in 10 years or less, as wished by the Malaysian opposition which tried to win with a lazy and populist short-cut via “an orgy of fake news and doctored photos”, as mentioned by blogger Raja Petra Kamarudin (See http://www.malaysia-today.net/2018/05/05/daps-red-bean-armys-orgy-of-fakes-news-and-doctored-photos/)
Taking over Mahathir’s liability
The most fatal flaw in the Opposition strategy is when it decided to make Mahathir the top dog of Pakatan Harapan and also made him their PM designate.
In all elections after Mahathir has retired, especially in GEs12 and 13, he remained a liability to Umno and BN despite being just an Umno member, and not a candidate.
All the dark episodes of his 22 year rule such as the Lallang Ops, the detention of Nik Adli Nik Aziz under the ISA in what can be seen as a politics of hate just to spite the then MB of Kelantan for bringing the state under PAS in 1990, and the BNM Forex Scandal, Umno and BN has had to defend his record.
In 2016, he did a big favour to Umno and BN when he voluntarily sacked himself from Umno, formed a new party and mutually embraced his former political foe Lim Kit Siang of the DAP by politically sleeping with the enemy.
Since then, the liability for his 22 years of misrule was taken off from Umno and BN shoulders and transferred to PH, putting the Opposition at a severe disadvantage.
Opposition in disarray
When the vulgar-mouth DAP leader Nga Kor Ming was to be introduced as a candidate for Teluk Intan as a ministerial material candidate by Lim Guan Eng, Mahathir was supposed to be present at that event to give a boost to the candidacy by getting the Malay voters there to support Kor Ming.
But at the eleventh hour, Mahathir was unable to be present because he was not feeling well and instead sent his video recording of his speech.
Since a physical appearance is very much different from a video appearance in term of impact, Kor Ming must have been feeling slighted since he has made a sacrifice to move from a Chinese majority area of Taiping to the mixed constituency of Teluk Intan in order to be a giant killer by killing the political career of Gerakan Chief, Mah Siew Keong.
Perhaps in what can be seen as a tit-for-tat for Mahathir’s absence, Kor Ming in one of his ceramahs explained Mahathir’s chairmanship of PH as a case of using the old man to rally the Malays in bringing down Najib and once this is achived, DAP would henceforth assume power in Malaysia for the first time because by then Mahathir would be dead (he used the crude word of “mampos” to describe Mahathir’s death).
The Malays would surely feel appalled at his choice of words that he would soon lose the Malay votes in Telok Intan. PKR President, Datuk Wan Azizah, realising this, has made a scathing remark against Kor Ming, which resulted in an apology from the latter.
This is just one example of the opposition in disarray. The much talked about rivalry between Wan Azizah and PKR’s Deputy President Azmin Ali on the one hand, and the rivalry between PKR’s Rafizi Ramli and Azmin on the other hand is another example of an opposition in disarray.
And just as the campaigning entered its last lap, we heard about the resignation of PKR Penang Youth Chief Asrol Sani Abdul Razak, along with 70 others over disappointment with the way issues have been handled in the state over the years.
And in Kubang Pasu (Mahathir’s bastion while he was PM), almost 440 PPBM members led by its division deputy information chief Ab Manaff Kechik, quit the party, citing their disappointment with Mahathir, whom they described as having “gone overboard” in his political approach.
More serious is the expose of Amran Ahmad, 41, an assistant producer for DAP’s official online television channel UbahTV, who said his party will distribute tens of thousands of materials containing slander against BN and PM Najib.
Amran, who is a former special officer to DAP secretary-general and Penang Chief Minister Guan Eng, also said the “malicious” propaganda material would be disseminated in stages until polling day.
There is more than meets the eyes to this expose when Lim Kit Siang responded with a no comment to reporters when asked about it at an event in Gelang Patah.
There is actually no dearth of stories to highlight the Opposition in disarray so the above suffice for this article.
The myth of a Malay Tsunami
In the beginning, you have the Chinese Tsunami in GE13 supporting the DAP-led Opposition in their quest for power. But sadly, they only won the meaningless popular votes without winning enough seats making them the loser.
Soon after, the Opposition becomes very excited with the myth of a Malay Tsunami in GE14.
When it was pointed out to them how can there be a Malay Tsunami when PAS is no longer a part of Pakatan Harapan, their answer was the confidence they have in PAN and later PBBM through Mahathir to deliver the Malay Tsunami.
Come Nomination Day, it was put to them that if the Malay Tsunami exists, why then is DAP still putting a majority of its candidates in Chinese majority areas, and not in Malay majority constituencies.
Soon the DAP realises that in their excitement with the myth of a Malay Tsunami, they have made the mistake of taking for granted that the Chinese Tsunami will be with them when sentiments are seen to have changed marginally in favour of MCA and Gerakan who are working very hard as underdogs to wrestle back their seats which was won by DAP in GE13.
One reason for this change in sentiment is the way the Opposition has ruled Penang and Selangor for the past 10 years with the Penang “Tunnel Vision” scandal and the Ijok Land scandal happening under their watch.
On top of this, Lim Guan Eng will go down in Malaysian history as the only election candidate carrying the title of the accused. Of course we cannot call him a thief yet until the outcome of his case is known after GE14, unlike his father and Mahathir who liberally use the word “thief” on Najib when Najib isn’t an accused or even a suspect in Malaysia’s court or the court of several countries that are investigating the 1MDB saga.
So now they are in a bind because not only is the Malay Tsunami a myth but their Chinese Tsunami reality is also going to crumble.
And Mahathir now no longer talks about the Malay Tsunami. On Day 9 of campaigning, he introduced another mythical concept, the Rakyat Tsunami, while at the same time, enlisting some dinosaurs of a bygone age to help him engineered a Rakyat Tsunami.
These are all a sign of desperados, because the rakyat will be again with BN assuming power.
Black Swan or Green Swan?
In the field of Strategic Foresight, the black swan theory or theory of black swan events is a metaphor that describes an event that comes as a surprise, has a major effect, and is often inappropriately rationalized after the fact with the benefit of hindsight.
The term is based on an ancient saying that presumed black swans did not exist – a saying that became reinterpreted to teach a different lesson after black swans were discovered in the wild.
The theory was developed by Nassim Nicholas Taleb to explain:
- The disproportionate role of high-profile, hard-to-predict, and rare events that are beyond the realm of normal expectations in history, science, finance, and technology.
- The non-computability of the probability of the consequential rare events using scientific methods (owing to the very nature of small probabilities).
- The psychological biases that blind people, both individually and collectively, to uncertainty and to a rare event’s massive role in historical affairs.
The Opposition would like to believe that the Black Swan of GE 14 is the hard to predict Malay Tsunami.
I would advise them to take into consideration too the Black Swan of GE14 could be the hard to predict “Green Swan” when the party which does not have any desire to be the government and is merely contented to be the kingmaker, finds itself as the KING!!!