As if it is a give away on UMNO/BN’s diffidence Najib the BN/UMNO chairman reportedly gave hint that 13th GE may be around the corner-which means some where before this year’s end, from the state farthest from the nation’s capital viz Sabah. And that is the survival tactics of BN/UMNO ie to hang on to these far away states where its weaknesses are lesser known! After Mar 8th 2008 general elections the political geography of the country has changed dramatically: BN/UMNO has been left the southern states in the Penisular and its political life depend on the 54 parliamentary seats in East Malaysia. If the trend continues it may lose power at federal level in the coming general elections. Whether this will happen depend on the trend. After winning in a string of by-elections in the southern states in Penisular UMNO felt that it had stalled the advancing trend of the PR -but still try to invest heavily in the East Malaysia to assure the half-century alliance that there is still future to its rule. UMNO/BN or more specifically the PM who heads it, has been wavering between putting up a gung-ho fight in the capital/Opposition stronghold to win back the lost grounds, or to streangthen its holds on the Southern Penisular and East Malaysian `fixed deposit’ states. Thus if UMNO/BN chief choose to go back to its surer backyards to rally its forces the pointer is more towards an BN/UMNO which is caught in its defensive back-foot!
What has this got to do with the Bersih rally? Actually despite the widespread crack down by police on the Bersih supporters seasoned politicians/observers knows that elections are won or lost on the voters’ sentiment/perception/sympathy. Despite the hundreds plus arrests up to today the voters may get a bit scared their sympathy are growing towards the Opposition. 2 reasons stand out: the appeal for free and fair elections is something they can identify with. 2. The crop of politicians we have from BN now are not to be proud of-which they can justifiably blame it on the unfair election system. Under such conditions the politicians are counting the BN’s vote loses if they persist on pushing the police to intimidate and beat up the Bersih attendants. So the game is a sure-lose for BN-due to the unreasonable appearance of its actions on the people whose `crime’ is simply to participate in the rally. Even a robber caught red-handed will just be charged in a court of law and not be beaten up or given water-cannon blast! The artificial political natue of the treatment they get only deepen the impression that the BN action is unfair!
But the working of the election system precisely is to blame: the urban centres alone cannot deliver overall victories to the Opposition. Only by making sufficient inroads in the rural interiors in the Borneo states that the Opposition can ever hope to win. And this is where the Opposition is still weak. Assuming that the political situation in Penisular remain stagnated at half way ie the 2008 result more or less remain, then the slight increase in opposition votes in the urban centres in East Malaysia will not be able to deliver overall victories to the Opposition. That explain the BN/UMNO’s higher emphasis in the Borneo states-their last `fixed deposits’! In comparison the Opposition still think that they have better chance to capture all the 11 states in Penisular than to capture the Borneo states-as reflected in a projection by Lim Kit Siang a few days back. Thus: like it or not the Borneo states will have to wait for a while before the states are taken more `seriously’ by the Opposition on its way to capture Federal power.
Thus it reflects a reality of Malaysian politics well that Najib float the idea of the coming General Elections in BN/UMNO’s strongest, safest `fixed deposit’ state. It could happen that the Opposition may capture more than 50% of the popular votes nation wide and yet miss out on capturing Federal power! The rural areas in Borneo states have only half the population/voters-yet they share more than 3/4 of the seats-something that the Bersih rally may want fixed if they have a chance.