Friday, October 16, 2009

Bagan Pinang BN victory, the beginning of the evaporation of Indian support for PR ?

Voters in this small town near Port Dickson have clearly exercised their vote to give BN a landslide victory. Based on the last 8 bi elections the incumbent always held fort. BN was expected to retain Bagan Pinang . There was a high 40 % postal vote factor in this bi-election. Postal votes are normally pro BN. However the exceptionally high margin secured by the BN candidate confirms that more Indians have decided to give back their votes to BN..

Through out the elections, observers were gauging if PR could make the inroads in Bagan Binang. In the case of BN it was very pertinent for them to retain the seat. Against the wishes of the likes of Dr.M and Tengku Li, PM Najib chose Isa a controversial candidate who was censored and penalized by his own party. This was indeed a political gamble.A loss in Bagan Pinang could actually have seen weakening of his position within his party. The win in Bagan Pinang today can be seen as a mandate to PM Najib Razak to continue his BN leadership.

This election has shown us the glaring weakness within PR. PR has seemingly lost ground and have not settled in as the ruling government in 5 major states, more importantly they have lost ground gained with the Indian community..

From the results ,and the ensuing commentaries posted

on the Bagan Pinang bi-elections are we to infer the following?.

1.Corruption though an important issue only took 2nd place to tangible issues like housing, health, education and food.

2.Indian temper against MIC and Umno seems has cooled off.

3.PR has not convinced the voters that it wis a viable alternative to BN to rule the country.

4. PR failed to present to its Indian voters effective socio economic programs to secure their upward mobility.

If the above are true, the Indian community which was responsible for the tsunami elections in 2008, was eager to see policy based resolution to their perennial problems by an alternate PR led government but this however did not happen in the PR governed states. As such they had to weigh other options for their future.If PR does not distinguish itself as a viable governing material it should not be surprised if it looses its stake in the next GE.

The success of PR in the 12th GE was aided by the issues that were dominating the political landscape like the Suhashini custodial battle,Melaka pig breeders issue,Herald publication KDN withdrawal, Shah Alam temple demolition , Hindraf demonstration and subsequent ISA detention of its 5 leaders which was of intense public interest then. It was further facilitated by the flaws in the judgment of the timing of the elections by the former Prime Minister,but this time round PR will not have that benefit.

Be sure that the current Prime Minister will time the elections to his advantage. He is on track to appease the Indians. He will work around the other races soon. PR should not just wait to pounce on controversies and flaws on the governance of BN ,but should steer its state governments to deliver a distinctively viable socio-economic agenda .With two economically well developed states in hand it should not be a daunting task.If it fails to impress in the ensuing months that it can also deliver, forget about staking a claim for the seat in Putra Jaya. From the lessons from Bagan Pinang we know voter sentiment is very volatile, and no party can claim absolute rights to govern, Malaysian politics seems dynamic in its pattern of swing.In the next 24 months if PR fails to demonstrate its governance in its ruling states we should not be surprised at the reversal of vote swings.

It was a strategic political error that PR did not develop a mechanism wherein the participation of the leaders of the “Hindraf inspiration” was secured in the running of the PR controlled states. Is it a manifestation of Umno type arrogance or is it a deliberate strategy to sideline and marginalize those Hindraf leaders so that the Indians support can be split and absorbed within the so called multi racial parties like PKR , DAP and into Pas through dubious fan club mechanisms.? Is a strong united Indian community centered on the struggles of Hindraf ,a threat to others who connive to hijack Indian support by empty political rhetoric?

From the Bukit Selambau bi-elections, failure of PR to accommodate the request of Hindraf for a candidate of their choice, it is evident and has become difficult to believe that a PR led federal government in the future will give consideration to the 18 point socio-economic agenda for the Indian community which was the core of the Nov25 2007 Hindraf spirit.

Indians are emotionally distraught and downtrodden. If by just political rhetoric PR plans manage the Indian support ,such a support will evaporate in no time.I just hope Bagan Pinang is not the beginning of such a process.

by Malini Dass