By Koon Yew Yin
According to news reports on the celebration of Umno’s 71st anniversary, Prime Minister Najib Razak had teased Umno supporters by asking if he should dissolve Parliament as early as the following day.
Some observers see it as a sign that he is very confident of a victory and that he may call for an election soon.
However, there are two sayings which he needs to be reminded of.
One is the old saying “Pride comes before a fall”.
The other is a quote attributed to Harold Washington, the first African-American elected as Mayor of Chicago: “Let’s not be overconfident, we still have to count the votes.”
Barisan Nasional-sponsored analysts, who dominate the official media, have been saying that BN has more than the required number of votes to win the next election by a comfortable margin. In fact, some are so confident that they are assuring BN of a more than two-thirds majority. Because these analysts are tied to the BN money machine, this message of a big BN victory will be drummed into our heads over the next few months.
But is this big BN victory a sure thing?
Going by my knowledge of politics in Perak, I wish to differ.
Tide turning against BN
In Perak, most voters have not forgotten that power was “stolen” from the then Pakatan Rakyat by BN. In the next election, many voters will want to correct the injustice and vote for the opposition.
Included in this group will be most of the civil servants as well as Felda settlers who have been regarded as Umno’s and BN’s vote banks.
To some extent these voters have also been PAS’ vote banks.
But will the Malay civil servants and Felda settlers continue to allow themselves to be swayed by racial and religious politics and vote with their hearts rather than with their heads in the next election?
Or will they realise that both Umno and PAS have let them down badly and are not worth the support that the two parties have been provided with during the past 50 years and more?
Today, everyone, except for the elite, are suffering from a socio-economic crisis arising from the mismanagement of the economy and pervasive corruption. Food is more expensive, transport prices have soared, education costs have escalated.
According to Cuepacs president Azih Muda, civil servants have ended up heavily in debt to manage rising living costs, to the point that more than 60,000 of them risk bankruptcy.
“This is a direct effect of the hike in cost of living. Civil servants end up taking up a lot of loans and this is unsustainable and they are unable to manage their finances,” Azih told the foreign news agency Reuters.
This report was, understandably, not carried in the mainstream Malay media. Neither have the numerous reports on the financial mess inflicted on Felda settlers through the launch of Felda Global Ventures Berhad.
This time, I am sure the revolt of the Malay masses will take place. And when this revolt led by the civil servants and Felda settlers happens at the polling booth, a new page in our nation’s history will be reached.
Battle for change led by Dr Mahathir
Fittingly, the battle for change will be led by Dr Mahathir. Several weeks ago, I attended a Parti Pribumi Bersatu meeting at Padang Rengas, Kuala Kangsar, where I took the opportunity to renew my friendship with him and gave him a copy of my book,” Road Map for Achieving Vision 2020” which was partly inspired by Dr Mahathir’s vision for our nation’s future.
Dr Mahathir was my business partner before he became the prime minister.
It is not only the Malay masses who will push for change. Today we have a new opposition coalition which will operate as a single entity against BN.
Featuring PPBM, DAP, PKR and Parti Amanah Negara as its component members, the opposition coalition will also include East Malaysian parties. This is an unprecedented grand coalition of Malaysian anti-BN voters which, in my opinion, can bring about the biggest upset in our political history once it gets its act together.
In the last GE, the opposition secured more than 51% of the total votes, but in terms of state and parliamentary seats, the opposition had less than BN because of the gerrymandering.
Although the gerrymandering will continue during the next election, the significant difference is that Dr Mahathir’s new party under Muhyiddin Yasin will be competing for Malay votes in the small towns and villages.
I believe, too, that PAS is deeply divided under president Hadi Awang, who is presently sick and unable to exert much influence. Once it becomes clear that the new grand opposition coalition will win, I expect many PAS leaders and voters to join the opposition and quit the friendship with BN. – FMT
Koon Yew Yin is a retired chartered civil engineer and one of the founders of IJM Corporation Bhd and Gamuda Bhd.