Malay voters more concerned about their political position, says expert

Sharon Tan

IDEAS chief executive officer Wan Saiful Wan Jan says many parties are using DAP as a code word to mean the Chinese community. – The Malaysian Insight file pic by Kamal Ariffin, October 21, 2017.

THE political position of Malays trumps the issue of rising cost of living among Malay voters, especially those living outside Klang Valley.

This was the position of Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs chief executive officer Wan Saiful Wan Jan, who said: “Outside the Klang Valley, especially the typical kampong, you will see is that even though they are concerned about the rising cost of living, there is one bigger issue they are more worried about and that is the position of the Malays.” 

Speaking at the IDEAS Café talk entitled “GE14: Is Umno in trouble?”, Wan Saiful said ethnic politics was by far Umno’s strongest argument in their campaign.

“I think they know this and from the trend, you can see they are really harping on this. And the attack Umno is using is that DAP cannot be trusted.

“If you read a little bit more, it is really not about DAP but about the Chinese. DAP is more like a code word,” he said.

Wan Saiful shared his encounter with voters in Felda settlements in Johor who say that if Malays are not careful, they will end up like Malays in Singapore.

He said when asked whether they had relatives or friends in Singapore, 99.5% of those he spoke to had none. 

“When I asked why were they are so worried, they said they got their sources of information mainly from Malay newspapers such as Utusan and Berita Harian while others read Sinar Harian.

“Utusan is by far their number one source of information followed by RTM1, TV3 and WhatsApp chat groups,” said Wan Saiful, who is a senior fellow at the ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute based in Singapore.

He said it was interesting that people who complained did not rely on facts but merely “felt” that Malays in Singapore were being discriminated against.

“That feeds into the sentiment that if Malays in Malaysia are not careful, they will lose political power. And therefore, they, too, will be affected.

“The code word used is we must not trust DAP. But if you mention names like Tian Chua, who is not with DAP at all, they will say DAP. Even if you mention Mat Sabu, the most un-DAP of all people, the will say Mat Sabu Amanah is under DAP,” said Wan Saiful.

He said if this cycle continued, some would benefit from it politically but the country would be divided even further.

“The message being used is ‘We are the Malays, do not trust the Chinese, and to make sure Malay political power remains, you must vote for us’.

“’Us’ at the moment can be both sides. It can be the government or the opposition. It can be Umno or PAS. The argument is even used by some in Bersatu,” he said, adding that the more this kind of language is used, the more the divided the country will become.

This argument, he said, will help Malay parties, be it Umno, PAS or Bersatu, win seats in the next election.

Wan Saiful said that Bersatu also used the same argument, although it is in the opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan (PH).

“Bersatu is putting forward the argument that because it is a Malay party, it should be the leader. And it works. From a political strategy point of view, that is the right argument to make.

“If you want to win the Malay votes, Bersatu has to be the leader. It must not be DAP,” he said.

He said potential swing states, like Johor, Perak, Malacca and Kedah, are slightly risky for Umno.

 He said DAP, the most stable party in Johor, backed Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin to be the PH chief in Johor because they know its campaign has to be led by a Malay. – October 21, 2017.

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  • The Muslims continue to be their own worst enemy fed by continued ignorance and emotion. A traditionally gentle, peaceful community has been systematically converted beyond recognition without much concern for the well-being of future generations.

    Posted 6 years ago by Xuz ZG · Reply

  • When Malays vote based on race and religion instead of on policies and meritocracy of leaders, Malaysia will continue to slide backwards. Even now may be too late to do catch up. Our natural resources, especially petroleum, were squandered through trying to develop the country via racist ideologies since 1970.

    Posted 6 years ago by Malaysian First · Reply

  • " ...... that if Malays are not careful, they will end up like Malays in Singapore ....." - Would the Singaporean Malays who are shopping, dining and entertaining themselves in Johor and elsewhere willing to become Malaysian citizens? Laughable, yet the Johorean Malays are so ........ to see that.

    Posted 6 years ago by Malaysian First · Reply

  • It's why it cannot be done without Sarawak and Sabah and it should not be. Sarawak and Sabah are full partner in Malaysia. The problem is if you survey them, they still think UMNO/BN is the party of development which is nonsense and do not think Hadi's PAS is their problem.

    Posted 6 years ago by Bigjoe Lam · Reply