Read here article by Syed Jaymal Zahid in Malaysian Insider
Umno Race Tactics a Flop While PAS Maintains Chinese Support
Syed Jaymal Zahid
If the Permatang Pasir by-election was to gauge the effectiveness of Umno’s communal politicking, the results point to only one conclusion: FAILURE
Mohd Salleh Man, PAS Penang commissioner, beat Rohaizat Othman, the scandal-hit Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate, with a majority of 4,551. The former garnered 9,618 votes against the latter’s 5,067.
PAS won in all Chinese dominated areas throughout the state constituency. From the suburbs of Sama Gagah and Cross Street to the semi-rural town of Permatang Pauh, the Islamist party thumped their Umno rivals with big majorities.
In Sama Gagah, where Umno and its allies in Barisan Nasional spent most of their time campaigning, PAS edged out its old foe by raking in 1,397 votes against Umno’s 594.
In Cross Street, a DAP stronghold, Umno fell behind PAS with a 642 majority and in Permatang Pauh, the former gained 875 votes against Umno’s 354.
Campaigning materials depicted PAS as an extremist group; focussing on Chinese-sensitive issues like the pig abbattoir closure in Kedah and the beer sale issue in Selangor to regain much of the lost Chinese votes that went to Pakatan Rakyat in last year’s general elections.
But the Permatang Pasir results have shown that Umno’s racial attacks have not been effective, said PAS vice-president and Permatang Pasir by-election director Datuk Mahfuz Omar.
“The voters have completely rejected the kind of racist politics played by Umno and BN,” Mahfuz told a post-victory press conference in Permatang Pasir.
Mahfuz claimed observations made by the party indicate a similar voting trend from the 2008 general elections, where Chinese votes mainly went to PR and the Malay votes are equally spread among supporters from both sides of the fence.
“Just as what had happened in the general elections, it has happened again here which shows that the people want change and transparent governance, a government with integrity, something that Umno and BN cannot provide,” he added.
The continued support shown by the Chinese voters here is not the only barometer of Umno’s ineptitude at communal politics.
Umno sang a different tune in Malay majority areas, portraying PAS as a party that has compromised Islamic values by being a stooge to a Chinese dominated party, the DAP.
This approach has also proven to be a failure. If Permatang Pasir is any gauge, Umno’s attacks have not gained much traction on the ground except among its own core supporters.
The results of yesterday’s by-election suggests a hardening of support on both sides of the political divide as PAS’s relentless attacks on Rohaizat’s candidacy also did not seem to have gained the party more votes.
Deputy Prime Minister and BN deputy chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin, the leading man behind the party’s ongoing racial attack, yesterday admitted that there were no significant changes in Malay voting trend.
Rohaizat, on the other hand, hinted that his defeat was caused by “the failure of the Chinese community here to fulfill its vows of support” which is an indirect admission that the race card has not worked its magic for Umno and BN.
Malaysian Society in a Dangerous and Uncertain Cross-Road with UMNO 's Racist Posturing
Read here article by Khoo Kay Peng in Straight Talk for more
Stumbling blocks to nation's progress
Khoo Kay Peng
At dinner last night, a foreign investor asked me if he should continue to bet his money on Malaysia in the next five years. He was anxious to find out if Malaysia can ride out the current economic crisis.
I told him that the indicators so far are not good. On the economy, it is quite obvious that the government and the ruling elites do not display enough political will, deep economic knowledge and policy wisdom to take this country to a higher level.We have identified two crucial challenges for the economy.
First, it is quite obvious that our fixation with building mega dollars industrial parks and hubs is not working.
Malaysia's economic success cannot be solely dependent on industrial parks.What we should do is to focus on enhancing the quality of education in the country. Without a pool of highly skilled labour, it will be difficult for us to attract higher value investment into the country. Malaysia's dependence on low cost foreign labour is a major barrier for innovation.
It is an open secret that this government does not focus on the substance of a good education policy. The whole debate on the use of language has created a diversion from the real problem faced by this country.Until and unless something is being done to enhance, revamp and reorganise the curriculum and the quality of teachers in this country, Malaysia's hope of joining the ranks of high-income countries will remain a mere dream.
Since the last general election, many Malaysians and foreigners are hopeful that this country will change for the better. Many of them will be disappointed to find out that the quality of political discourse has taken yet another dip for the worse.
The opposition coalition has not performed much better either. Constant bickering and open disputes over trivial issues only helped to expose a lack of calibre in their leadership ranks.
Malaysians must make a serious choice on whether they should continue to tolerate current political antics or demand better quality politicians in the next general election.
The use of extreme racial and religious language in the ongoing Permatang Pasir by-election is an indication of what to expect in the next general election.
Race relations in the country could turn for the worse if Malaysians allow themselves to be manipulated and influenced by the propaganda and rhetoric.
Less than capable and tainted politicians will continue to hide behind the race and religious curtain for survival.For those who thought that racism in Malaysia is over after the last general election, they might be disappointed.
The next general election will put Malaysian political maturity to test.Malaysians will find little fault with race and religion if we can agree that good governance and a responsible government is more important.
Mutual respect and acceptance can be nurtured once the blame game stops.The local politics is not only suffering from a devious manipulation of race and religion to score political points but also corruption and abuse of power.
Several scandals e.g. the PKFZ fiasco, thousands of custodial deaths, judicial independence, alleged collusion between the ruling government and the public institutions and others have rocked the country in recent times. Many foreign observers are surprised that many Malaysians have been remarkably resilient and tolerant towards these scandals. Many governments would not have survived even one of the scandals.
Socially, this society is at a crossroads. The ruling government is very aggressive in promoting its new slogan, '1Malaysia'. But as many as 40 percent of Malaysians are not quite sure what it really means.
The government is now considering dropping a race identification tick box from all official forms. This is merely a cosmetic move as a person's race can be easily identified from his/her name.
So far, the ruling government does NOT show any indication that it is serious in eradicating real racial profiling, promoting equality among all Malaysians, respecting democratic rights to assembly and free speech, enhancing democracy and improving its own governance.
Other emerging countries are using the crisis to improve and correct their internal discrepancies. It does not take long for Malaysia to fall behind the pack if the government continues to focus on political contestation and neglecting everything else.
After hearing me, the foreign investor told me he had made up his mind on where to put his money and place his next bet. I hope he is still committed to Malaysia.
-Khoo Kay Peng in "Straight Talk"
UMNO's Race Card proves dicey in Permatang Pasir By-election
Read here for more
As the dust settles on Malaysia's eighth by-election — predictably won by the opposition Pakatan Rakyat — it's become apparent that the prevailing trend has prevailed again.
The Permatang Pasir by-election in Penang was won decisively on Tuesday by PAS, making it a clean sweep of seven by-election wins in Peninsular Malaysia for the opposition alliance since last year's general election. A by-election in Sarawak was won by Barisan Nasional.
PAS candidate Mohd Salleh Man, 52, defeated Umno's Rohaizat Othman, 38, in Permatang Pasir, where the seat fell vacant after the incumbent, a PAS assemblyman, died of a heart attack last month.
An analysis of the voting results indicated again that race or religious rhetoric is a dicey strategy for electoral success.
Analyst Ibrahim Suffian, whose Merdeka Centre does independent polling, said studies have shown that such rhetoric may swing a small percentage of Malay voters, but alienate a far larger number of non-Malay voters.
“It does NOT help to win substantial Malay votes, but it repels others,” he said.
The Permatang Pasir by-election reflected this. Of the 20,000 voters, 72 per cent are Malays, 26 per cent Chinese, almost 2 per cent Indians, and the rest are classified as others.
The PAS candidate took 65 per cent of the total votes, just slightly lower than the 66 per cent in last year's general election.
A look at the racial breakdown showed that PAS' share of Malay votes fell by 3 percentage points, but its Chinese support rose by 6 percentage points.
Political analyst Ong Kian Ming said PAS's Malay support fell from 65 to 62 per cent, but its share of Chinese votes went up from 71 to 77 per cent.
Analysts agree that the ratcheting up of Malay rhetoric had sent the Chinese votes fleeing from Umno. In recent weeks, the Umno-linked Utusan Malaysia newspaper had repeatedly called on the Malays to rise up as they were losing political power.
The death in custody of opposition aide Teoh Beng Hock also stirred anger.
Ibrahim said some of Umno's rallies during the Permatang Pasir by-election were strong on race rhetoric. He noted that as a result, Umno had won some of the older Malay voters.
But significantly, the Chinese had disregarded recent PAS-led measures to enforce Islamic laws more strictly in Selangor. Clearly, the Chinese see PAS as a more moderate party than Umno.
“Umno has cemented its position in public perception as the more extreme,” said Ong.
Going by the eight by-elections, analysts believe that parties which occupy the middle ground in public perception have the best chance of winning seats.
This is because the Malay swing vote tends to be very limited. Ibrahim said the Malay core vote base for PAS and Umno is fairly entrenched.
It's unclear which direction PAS will take now. The party is split between those who want to stick to a multiracial platform, and those who want a stronger Islamic agenda.
This struggle has yet to be resolved. Some within PAS will see the Permatang Pasir win as “a vote for a moderate stance, but some may interpret it as an approval for an Islamic agenda”, said Ibrahim.