How Anwar win the Malay vote
August 30, 2008
Original source : Super Admin, Malaysia Today, see it here or just read it below..
Analysts told the New Straits Times that the ruling Barsian Nasional’s persistent focus on the sodomy allegation, aimed at running down Anwar in the eyes of Muslim voters, had backfired. Sodomy, refusal to swear on the Quran and accusations of collusion with the US and Israel.
In an earlier time in Malaysia, this would have been enough to sink any political hope of power. Not anymore. Case in point: Permatang Pauh.
It was a given that in the by-election for this constituency the Chinese (about 25 % of the population here) and the Indians (about 6 %) would back opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim. The big surprise is that most of the Malays (who make up about 70 % of the constituents) voted for him.
Mr Anwar got 31,195 votes, winning by 15,671 votes and surpassing his wife Dr Wan Azizah Ismail’s 13,388-vote victory margin in the 8 Mar general election.
Analysts told the New Straits Times that the ruling Barsian Nasional’s persistent focus on the sodomy allegation, aimed at running down Anwar in the eyes of Muslim voters, had backfired.
PKR strategist Saifuddin Nasution Ismail told the newspaper: ‘The Malays were not influenced by the swearing and sodomy issues that Umno had tried to capitalise on, and they punished BN.’
Political scientist Professor James Chin of Monash University said Malays generally were unhappy with what could be perceived as Umno’s misuse of Islam to target an individual.
The Quran-swearing episode by Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan was seen by many Malays as a conspiracy by Umno. Most do not believe in the sodomy allegations.’
Prof Chin’s views are actually shared by some BN leaders in private, said the New Straits Times.
The move also backfired badly when doubts were cast on the incident. The sodomy charges had intially made a huge dent in Mr Anwar’s attempt to retain the seat, reported the Edge.
However, Mr Anwar’s campaign received a tremendous boost in the last few days when Federal Territories mosque imam Ramlang Porigi admitted in Permatang Pauh to having been directed by ‘higher-ups’ in what he believed was a political conspiracy, to witness the swearing of Saiful on the Quran.
Mr Ramlang even went to the extent of claiming that the swearing had been initiated by the office of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
This revelation, Mr Anwar admitted, turned the tide in his favour, especially in the final 48 hours of campaigning. The arrival of PAS’s top leaders in Permatang Pauh also helped shred lingering doubts, especially among the older Malay voters, on the swearing incident on the eve of nomination day. As the days went by, the campaign became more racial. Malays were told that a PKR victory would mean a loss of their ‘privileges’.
Again, this did not sit well with the Malay voters.
Former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohammad spoke for most Malays when he said in his blog that affirmative action is not something to be proud of and that it is certainly not to be considered a privilege. The former premier has his hand on the pulse, said Malaysiakini. No recipient of affirmative action feels proud.
‘Umno politicians have to change their style of campaigning. It needs reform,’ says Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia political scientist Associate Professor Mohammed Agus Yusoff.
Speaking in Singapore, Umno vice-president Muhyiddin Yassin said results also showed that the voters’ (including the Malay majority’s) mindset had shifted and that they now wanted something which ‘is fairer, not racial-based (politics) but one that is based on the profile of the multiracial and multi-religious Malaysians’.
Mr Muhyiddin, who is International Trade and Industry minister, is here to attend the Asean Economic Ministers Meeting.
‘Although it was just a by-election, it could be an indication of a trend that the voters had already decided that they wanted change even if they didn’t know what the changes were, and refused to accept BN’s leadership,’ he was quoted in Bernama as saying.
Permatang Pauh’s racial composition mirrors that of the country. Malays make up about 70 %, the Chinese 25 % and the Indians 8 % of Malaysia’s 27 million population.
Dr Koh Tsu Koon, Penang BN chairman and Gerakan acting president also said the by-election might reflect a trend.
‘While the by-election results showed the preference of the Permatang Pauh voters, BN must also take serious note that it may well be reflective of the overall perception and feeling of Malaysians elsewhere,’ he said
Dr Koh said BN must acknowledge and address the people’s dissatisfaction and even disenchantment with the establishment for what was perceived as a lack of commitment, communication and concrete results, especially in the past two years, Malaysiakini reported.
Former prime minister Mahathir as usual put it in his usual blunt style in his blog. He said voters did not want to vote for Mr Anwar but were even less inclined to vote for BN. This is the dilemma faced by Malaysian voters, he said.
He said: ‘The BN candidate was good, but if he won, Abdullah would declare himself the winner and claim that support for BN and himself had returned. He would also claim that BN’s support was restored under his leadership