The broad consensus among Malaysians is that the Malay votes would be the determinant of the outcome of the impending general elections expected to be held before August 2018.
Never has the Malay votes been so fragmented with different segments of the Malay populace having endeared themselves with political parties that would further their interests.
Political parties in Malaysia must impress the electorate that whatever political power that emerges after the elections would continue the present Malay hegemony and the preponderance Malay vested interests.
The growing urban elites and educated Malaysia which indeed is the product of the New Economic Policy have begun questioning the UMNO elites of the various policies that promote extravagance and wastage.
Indeed the educated Malays are already beginning to question the mega scandals that have rocked the country such as the likes of 1MDB which would invariably result in the government have to fork out of its coffers at the expense of the taxpayers.
In addition, they realize the sudden spike in the cost of living may not have to do with economic factors alone but also the increased incidence of corruption which has now become so deeply embedded among political hire-ups.
Then there is PAS, the political party which has been riding on with its Islamic credentials. Almost a decade of squabbling with the UMNO on its interpretation of Islam and calling UMNO followers as infidels are now brother at arms with the same party through an electoral understanding that is aimed to keep the ruling party in power.
Barisan National understands that the communal drummings of the past and advancing one particular race at the expense of the other has not gone down well with the voters.
The disastrous outings in 2008 and 2013 have shown that the non-Malays have chosen to stay away from BN and it would be now in their interest to woo the Malay voters to stay in power.
One such way of doing so is through an electoral understanding with PAS, playing up the religious card and creating a specter of threat from the Chinese to drum sufficient Malay votes to tilt the equation in their favour.
PKR which emerged in the wake of Anwar Ibrahim’s jailing has grown to be a formidable force with its alliance with DAP and Mahathir trying to keep the fragmented coalition relevant.
It support has grown from a meager one seat in 1999 to be a coalition that is now seen as the alternative to the ruling government.
Then we have Bersatu, a party that was formed by disenchanted UMNO members who feel UMNO has strayed away from its original struggles and formed a coalition with PKR and has large number of ex UMNO followers who have now thrown their support behind DR Mahathir with a hope that Malaysia would be able to regain its lost glory.
According to Invoke PAS and UMNO has less than 40% of the Malay support while PKR has about 25% of the support, while 35% of the Malay voters are sitting on the fence. Indeed if half of the 35% support Bersatu, there is a good possibility that the opposition could win.
The opposition needs to clearly flaunt its Malay credentials and assure the Maly rural voters that the present aid and assistance would continue if they come to power in order to make significant electoral inroads in the rural Malay heartland. If they do so, history in Malaysia is in the making.