Thursday, April 09, 2009
Malay vote shift at Bukit Gantang
If not deviated by other viewpoints, my first hunch from any observation is usually right.
The same thing happened last Thursday night at the dinner at Simpang, Taiping organised by a local Chinese community. My hunch then was the 5,000 attending audience was giving muted response to the campaigners. The excuse given by everyone for the damper was the three hour rain preceding the event that turned the padang into a padi field.
By the time we met the community leaders at a riverside seafood restaurant in Kuala Sepetang on Friday, I was convinced into believing of a turnaround in the Chinese community. In rural Chinese communities, such community leaders are opinion leaders.
The outcome of the Chinese voters is to the contracy and remain in the same 2008 pattern. While, the Malay majority votes showed a shift back to BN.
The Chinese votes for PAS increased from 70% in 2008 to 85% in 2009. The cynical view could perhaps be that seeing power is within grasp, the Chinese are not relenting. Political power may have overriden their usual concern for economic stability.
Another possibility is that the on slaught on Nizar, Nger and Nga may have backfired. Nizar has build up quite a respect with the Chinese community and benefited from sympathy votes.
The extent the idea for the dissolution of State Assembly and state general election is received is not certain. The constitutional issue was not allowed use for campaign with the case still pending in courts.
Nevertheless, sentiment amongst the Malays may have shifted away from PAS. BN's votes from Malay voters increased from 14,500 for 2008 to 17,000 and PAS's Malay votes correspondingly deccrease from 11,500 to 10,000.
According to PAS's Director of Operation, Asmuni Awi, the figures reflect a simlar trend but the quantum differ significantly. Their claim is Chinese votes rose from 65% to 75%.
To spin the reduced Malay votes, PAS claimed it is higher than expected. Malay votes was at 43% and their expectation was 40%. An UMNO blog claim Malay votes for PAS stands at only 37%.
Overall, Nizar received 21,860 votes against 19,071 votes for Ismail Saffian for a majority of 1,789 votes. Compared to Anwar Ibrahim's 7,000 majority prediction and 'bookies' prediction for 4,500 majority, this is significantly less.
The 1,500 shift in Malay votes was not sufficient to compensate the Chinese voters rise. Nevertheless, it is a silver lining for BN, in particular UMNO for it is indicative that Perak majority's shift in opinion on the derhaka gesture of Nizar.
For Malay-based PAS, this is a positive development in their quest to gain acceptance from the non-Malay voters. However, the extent in the shift of their Malay base is uncertain. Are they benefitting from a negative sentiment against UMNO than a truly positive acceptance of PAS?
If it is a true acceptance, it came with a high price. For one, they maybe deemed as dependent on DAP support and their agenda influencedby DAP. On Allah issue, Nik Aziz has taken a strangely compromising position. Nizar, in answering to questions in the State Assembly on Negara Islam, dispell Negara Islam as PAS's agenda.
Are the traditionalist in PAS comfortable with new liberal ideas pervading into PAS? Is this a permanent change or merely for political expediency? Will PAS be comfortable to foresake their traditional Malay base and compromise further their party's Islamic agenda?
PAS will have its party election in the middle of this year. It is expected that the Anwar-sympathiser Erdogan faction, associated with these liberal and more accomodative liberal ideas, will make an attempt to wrestle power from the ulamak faction.
And, it is around the same time the trials of Anwar Ibrahim sodomy charges will begin.
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