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Malay Tsunami in Malaysia: A 10% Malay swing possible

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How much of a Malay swing against the ruling () is needed for the opposition Pakatan Harapan to win the upcoming General in Malaysia?

This has been the question asked by many, though on the ground, there is a feel that the has lost a significant percentage of support among the Malay community.

But as Dr. Ong Kian Ming Member of Parliament (MP) for Serdang explained in a recent media statement issued from his office as MP, a swing in support from Malays, Chinese and Indians (the largest ethnic groups in Malaysia) has happened before and it would not be surprising if it were to repeat in the next GE.

Table 1 below shows the estimated support for the BN by racial group and changes in racial support for the BN from 1995 to 2013. See Table 1.

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Table 1: Estimated support for the BN by racial groups in Peninsular Malaysia, 1995 to 2013

1995 1999 2004 2008 2013
Malay 81% 54% (-27%) 65% (+11%) 59% (-6%) 64% (+5%)
Chinese 55% 65% (+10%) 75% (+10%) 35% (-40%) 14% (-21%)
Indian >90% >90% (NA) >90% (NA) 48% (-42%) 38% (-10%)

(Change from one election to the next is in brackets) (NA = Not Available)

Source: Estimates by Dr. Ong Kian Ming

According to the MP – who made his own calculations of the Malay-Chinese-Indian swings in the last 5 GE’s in Malaysia (from 1995-2013), the in 1999 are to be viewed as central in the next GE.

At that time, the country was still in the shock of the trial, his sacking from Umno and from the government – in which he lost his post of deputy PM and that of Minister of FInance – and this brought a massive swing of Malay votes to the opposition.

The ‘Anwar Factor’ as we will call it here damaged the BN-Umno to the point that it had to count on the Chinese-Indian votes that did not swing outwardly to remain in power.

The BN and the Umno had then lost a massive number of seats and a large percentage of votes in the so-called Malay belt made of the states of Kedah-Kelantan-Terengganu. The Party Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) benefited largely from the Malay swing in 1999, becoming the largest opposition party in Parliament.

Hence, Dr. Ong in his media statement said a Malay swing of 10% is not out of the question given the impact of Tun Dr. Mahathir and the formation of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM).

He said the creation of Pakatan Harapan which includes Mahathir’s PPBM is a significant milestone for the opposition.

With a historically unpopular Prime Minister , the 1MDB scandal, and the impact of the ‘infamous’ goods and services tax (GST) resulting in a sudden rise in the cost of living, the Malay vote is likely to swing against the BN in , said Dr Ong.

“A Malay swing against the BN of 15% would bring BN’s Malay support to about 50% which would leave BN teetering on a knife’s edge.

“A swing of 15% or more in any voting block doesn’t usually occur but we are living in unusual circumstances. It happened in 1999 among the Malay voters and it happened again in 2008 among the non-Malay voters.

“If I had been told in 2013 that Dr. Mahathir and Tan Sri Muhyiddin would form a new political party to fight UMNO in , I would have said that you were out of your mind. And yet, what was then unthinkable is now reality. As unlikely as a 15% swing may sound, it is not out of the realm of impossibility,” he said.

Of course, if there is a 15% swing in the Malay vote against the BN, the next question we have to ask is how much of this swing would go to PH and how much of this would go to PAS? To answer this question would require another media statement, said Dr Ong.

The PAS has since the jailing of for the second time in 17 years joined the Umno in a tacit alliance (not yet officially declared) in which the Umno and the PAS hopes they will garner sufficient Malay support to keep the BN in power.

The BN-Umno said they are winning the elections with a massive turnout in their favour as is still popular and the issues of 1MDB and GST are well and buried away from the voters concerns.

However, the Democratic Action Party (DAP) parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang has written about a 10 and 5 formula whereby a swing of 10% against the BN by Malay voters and a swing of 5% by non-Malay voters would enable PH to win 113 out of 165 parliament seats.

That would equate to 68% of seats in Peninsular Malaysia, thereby paving the way for PH to get to Putrajaya and form the next Government.

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