Electoral gains by PN might send the wrong signals
In the very recent state elections concluded yesterday, PH-BN coalition has been virtually wiped out in Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu. It was not something totally unexpected. There were predictions before the elections.
PH-BN lost its two-thirds majority in the wealthy state of Selangor by winning 20 out of the 56 seats. Even the former Menteri Besar Azmin Ali won the seat rather narrowly.
Negeri Sembilan was the only state that PH-BN maintained their dominance, yet losing four seats to PN. PN making future inroads in this state cannot be discounted.
PH-BN obtained its two-thirds reduced majority in Penang. The linchpin of PH-BN in Penang, the DAP, managed to win all the 19 seats and at the same time using its influence among its supporters to enable PKR to win seven of the 13 seats that it contested, Amanah one seat and Umno gaining two seats.
The powerful presence of PAS’s influence on the Malays is pretty obvious. Anwar’s hold on the parliamentary constituency of Permatang Pauh was shattered by the inroads made by PAS.
Without DAP, PH-BN would have possibly lost more seats in Penang. How long the DAP is going to deliver the non-Malay votes to parties that have no Malay support remains to be seen. DAP is under tremendous pressure to safeguard and protect the cultural and ethnic rights of the non-Malays. It cannot by a bystander any more.
In the coming state assemblyman session in Penang, it is expected that there will be more lively debate, compared to the sterile atmosphere before.
Whatever said and done, PN seems to be the clear winner in the state elections. Clearly, the bulk of the Malay support had gravitated towards the PN.
It is not so much the gross winnings about the respective coalitions, but the total number of seats won compared to seats contested and the percentage of support.
The DAP with the full backing of the non-Malays won all the seats it contested. However, this was not the case with PKR, Amanah, or Umno. All these parties took the electoral beating delivered by PN with the exception of Negri Sembilan.
In effect, there is polarisation in the voting patterns in ethnic terms and to some extent in class terms. The latter needs to be flushed out. While the non-Malays gave their support to PH-BN, the Malay non-support for PH-BN is rather obvious.
A more detailed analysis will possibly reveal that many of the PH-BN candidates were elected on the grounds of non-Malay support, maybe Negri Sembilan might be an exception. But such situation might change fast with rapid inroads made by PN.
What are the some of the important lessons that can be drawn from the outcome of the recent state elections? First, there is growing electoral polarisation in the country. The vast majority of non-Malays casting their lot with PH-BN, the Malays throwing the support behind PN.
In fact, the trend has continued from the days of the GE15.
Second, many of the PH-BN Malay candidates would have lost without the support given by non-Malay voters especially those aligned with the DAP.
In this regard, the DAP appears to be the kingmaker. How long this particular role will continue will be dependent on the position taken by the unity government.
Third, the unity government has been put in the most embarrassing position. Although the government might not collapse, there are, however, political implications.
Fourth, if the unity government moves in the direction of appeasing the conservative forces in PN to get Malay support, then there is a possibility that non-Malays in the DAP might become alienated.
The question is: whether the DAP has sufficient moral and political clout to influence the policy directions of the unity government. Too much appeasement politics like the MCA or MIC might be costly to the party politically.
Fifth, sad to say that Umno has become more of a liability to the unity government. However, Umno might not be at the receiving end, there is still room for the party to prevent its dangerous slide, by adopting certain political maneuvers. It is not Umno is not totally out of political options to deal with changing political scenarios.
Sixth, it is sad to say that the social and economic situation of the non-Malays and Malays are not going to get any better. If the unity government starts addressing the issues of the conservative Malays to gain the support of the Malays, the government might not prioritise the social and economic welfare of the deprived social classes.
Seventh, there is a sure possibility of the government facing the problem of ethnic polarisation but also issues of class deprivation. The political gains made by the PN might not be very pleasing to foreign investors. Investments might be delayed affecting the creation of jobs.