Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Strengths of political parties viz GE13 : A monyet’s assessment

The GE13 is in the horizon. Despite many chickenheads making various predictions, no one really has a f*#king clue when the elections will be. May be even Najib doesn’t know. Only thing that is certain is that GE13 will be held between now and March 2013.

I thought perhaps this is an appropriate time for me to assess the progress each political party in Peninsular Malaysia has made since 2008 and their standing today. Of course, since I am only a little monyet and not very smart, please take my assessment with a large dose of salt. I am only an amateur – so forgive my amateurish analysis. Only Peninsular Malaysia based political parties are discussed. I only know a little bit about political parties in Sabah and Sarawak.

The assessment is based on my own review of various political literature, media reports and blogs and more importantly through talking to various individuals who are knowledgeable in the politikus industry in Malaysia. I have made an extra effort to understand the sentiments of the non-Queen’s English speaking crowd and the rural voters as these two groups making up the bulk of voters in Peninsular Malaysia. I would like to advise my readers (most of whom are urban professionals who mostly converse in English) that you guys are a minority. You views may not necessarily be representative of the views of the majority of Malaysians (you can read my earlier article about the importance of sample size here).

I will start with the party that has made most progress and go down in a descending order.

1. DAP has made most progress since 2008. It has a very strong support base amongst the Chinese and its winning of Penang has consolidated its appeal among the Chinese voters. Over the past 4 years, DAP has cleverly strategized its campaigns, has a sleek campaign machinery and probably the most tactical of all parties. If you study its campaigns, you will note that they are rather sophisticated – way ahead of other parties. Lim Guan Eng is a good man. Regardless whether you like him or not, he is doing a fine job as the CM of Penang and that has won him many admirers, Monyet King included. (he could do with better hairstyling though)

Unfortunately DAP has made little progress in attracting non-Chinese supporters. Despite the recruitment of a few high profile Malays (e.g. Tunku Aziz, Zairil, Sakmongkol), DAP is by and large, a Chinese party to the core. To the bulk of the Malays in the country, DAP = Lim Kit Siang = Chinese chauvinist – and it is going to take a lot of effort to wipe out that image. I can see that DAP is trying to rebrand but it will be hardwork. [BTW, I heard Zairil speak last week and was quite impressed with him. Bright and articulate].

Come GE13, DAP should win more seats (both state and Parliament) than it has now. I think it will make inroads in Johor, Sabah and Sarawak. It may lose one or two seats in Perak and NS.

2. UMNO. Surprise, surprise. Of course if you have only been reading Malaysiakini and Chinese newspapers, you will find this hard to believe. UMNO has consolidated itself. Najib is very popular among the people (if he keeps Rosmah at a distance, he will be even more popular). UMNO has a large grassroot network which is active on the ground. You may not hear very much about it – but UMNO Youth and the Wanita and Puteri folks are going good work on the ground outside the Klang Valley and Penang. UMNO now has a lot more professionals. Irrespective of whether you like him or not, Khairy Jamaluddin is very smart and very articulate. If you watched the debate between him and Ambiga recently, to many non-partisan observers, Khairy won hands down.

Najib is a smart cookie. Najib is head and shoulders above his predecessor, Slumberjack. Many of his GTP and ETP are working – although his team could do better by communicating the results clearly. You, my readers, might not see the benefits but folks in rural areas do. Abolishment of the ISA and a slew of other laws is a major breakthrough in terms of respecting human rights. Najib has made more progress on electoral reform than what was done by his predecessors over the past 25 years. All these have won him many admirers, Monyet King included.

UMNO of course carries a lot of baggage. The party still has many half-brained porcupines and tortoise-heads. A lot of the older members are probably still living in the 1980’s. The past (and even present) cosy links between businesses and the party is a problem that UMNO has not yet managed to eradicate. It has an image of lethargy and corruption which will also take a long time to get over with. Its dominance within BN gives the impression that it is also a bully.

Come GE13, UMNO should be able to win more seats than it has now (at the expenses of PKR). With a bit of luck, it could win back Kedah.

3. PAS of course has a long history of grassroot activism and a formidable campaign/ election machinery. The fact that it has held on to Kelantan so long is a testament of its strength. With the 2008 win of Kedah, PAS has also consolidated itself. Among the Pakatan partners, PAS probably has the best / biggest election machinery. Since 2008, PAS has been actively campaigning and exerting its influence in Kedah, Perlis and Terengganu.

The party has a few smart young cookies but suffers "old" image problem. The prominence of Nik Aziz and Hadi gives the impression that it is a party of oldies – which it is not. Of course, its ultimate goal of establishing an Islamic state has never and will never go down well with a vast majority of Malaysians, Malay-muslims included. However by virtue of its loose partnership with DAP and PKR, PAS has somewhat put forward a more tolerant, liberal face. Whether it is sufficient to convince the non-Muslim voters remains to be seen. More importantly, it has to find replacements for Nik Aziz and Hadi who are now more than 300 years old.

Come GE13, I think PAS will more or less maintain what it has now. It seems ambitious in Johor but unlikely to win much in that state. It is completely lost in Sabah and Sarawak. PAS will be strong in Kelantan, Kedah, Terengganu and Perlis – the four poorest states in Peninsular Malaysia. It will lose some seats in Selangor and Perak.

4. MCA. Very difficult to assess. It goes without saying that DAP is now the biggest Chinese party in the country and MCA is struggling to find its footing. But not all is lost. MCA members have rallied around Chua Soi Lek  (despite his “problems”) and CSL is seen as a firm leader. CSL has balls that his predecessors did not have. It has a large grassroot network and has been doing community work on the quiet. Despite what you may have read or heard, the Chinese have not totally abandoned the party.

MCA has to get rid of the image that it is UMNO’s pissboy (well I am not sure what a pissboy is but it sounds like a right word to use here). MCA is of course struggling to disprove this perception. One of MCA’s advantages is that it, though its long association with UMNO, has a better understand of the Malay psyche and is generally seen by the Malays as less chauvinistic than DAP.

MCA will struggle in GE13. However, with UMNO’s resurgence, it should be able to maintain its existing seats and may be win a few more.

5. MIC. The departure of Samy Vellu can only be good news to any party. MIC under Palanivel maintains a low profile. The party has been focussing most of its efforts amongst middle to lower income Indians and mostly outside Klang Valley. Some of its new leaders are very hardworking, smart and articulate. Kamalanathan (I like him), for example is a smart bloke who is articulate in Malay, English and Tamil. Najib has made numerous goodwill gestures towards the Indian community which should translate into votes for BN. With the departure of Samy Vellu, more Indian professionals have joined the party.

MIC of course also suffers an image problem. It has not really produced many leaders who are capable of leading a multi-ethnic society. Many Indian professionals have shunned the party. It has to do lot of work to modernize the party, to inject new blood and make itself relevant.

For GE13, the good news for MIC is that the Indian voters are returning to BN. This is due to a combination of Najib’s gestures as well as MIC’s own effort. MIC should do better compared to its performance in GE12.

6. PKR’s originally strength was that it is the only real Malaysian party with a multiracial leadership. It also had a leader, Anwar, who managed to bring PAS and DAP together. Anwar’s sodomy trial helped PKR aplenty. PKR now runs Selangor and Khalid is doing a fairly decent job.

However, PKR is the most problematic party within Pakatan now. After flying high during GE12, PKR has basically gone downhill since. Seen as the weakest in the Pakatan coalition, it also had to endure a number of frogs that have switched allegiance. Through his own doing, Anwar has lost a fair bit of credibility (including his famous September 16 2008 claim and his alleged role in the recent Bersih3.0 rally). The sex tapes did not help. PKR’s own elections were in shambles – leading to senior members leaving the party. The image of Anwar, Azizah and Nurul at the head of the party also gives the impression that it is still a party for Anwar.

PKR would probably be the biggest loser in GE13. Anwar cannot carry the party on his own anymore. The images of policemen being attacked by a mob during Bersih3.0 rally (which BN will use to the maximum effect) will not win votes for PKR. Pakatan may just hold on to Selangor through the skin of its teeth.

7. As for PPP, KITA, KUTU, GARU, and other miscellaneous parties, they should seriously consider merging with one of the bigger parties. Tak ada harapan.

Monyet King says
Forgive my amateurish analysis. After all, I am only a little monyet. And also, my mind was clouded today for the lack of good teh tarik.

Source: http://planetofthemonyets.blogspot.com/2012/05/strengths-of-political-parties-viz-ge13.html

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