A book for all aspiring young politicians

Book Review by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang and Assistant National Director for Political Education for the DAP, on the 18th of March 2018

Most of my colleagues in the DAP who were elected into office for the first time in the 2008 and 2013 general elections did not grow up thinking that they would be state assembly representatives or Members of Parliament. None of my friends grew up thinking that they wanted to be the next Prime Minister of Malaysia. But since the tsunami elections of 2008, many more people in the younger generation can imagine themselves being elected representatives. More of them are interning and working for elected officials both in the Barisan Nasional as well as Pakatan Harapan. Public policy is being discussed and debated more rigorously among students via events such as the Model United Nations and public policy competitions such as the Malaysian Public Policy Competition (MPPC).

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Message to Datuk Seri Panglima Said Salleh Keruak: 2017 is not 1990

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, on the 28th of August, 2017

Message to Datuk Seri Panglima Said Salleh Keruak: 2017 is not 1990

I was a little surprised to read that the Minister for Communications, Datuk Seri Penglima Said Salleh Keruak, responded to my media statement on the possibility of a 15% swing in the Malay vote against BN in the 14thGeneral Election. Usually, Barisan National (BN) Ministers do not like to respond to my media statements which contain facts and figures. I congratulate the Minister for Communications for his awareness of the swing in the Malay vote as we approach the 14th GE.

I agree with a number of points he made in his blogpost.[1]

Firstly, I agree that Pakatan Harapan (PH) cannot assume that young voters are more supportive of the opposition even though in GE2008 and GE2013, based on research on the voting streams, the support level for the opposition in the younger voting streams was higher than that in the older voting streams. It cannot be denied that the BN’s main weapon to court younger voters, the Minister of Youth and Sports, Khairy Jamaluddin, is well received among the younger generation, especially through social media. In my opinion, Khairy’s social media strategy is more effective than that of our Prime Minister’s. His popularity has taken another step upwards after ‘going to the ground’ to encourage and support our SEA Games athletes as well as representing our country in the sport of polo.

Secondly, I agree that our country is not currently experiencing an economic crisis, at least for now, unlike the situation approaching GE1999.

But Said Salleh should be aware that 2017 is not 1990.

Prior to GE1990, the opposition parties only held 27 out of 177 parliament seats or 15% of total parliament seats. Prior to GE14, the opposition parties (including independent MPs) hold 89 out of 222 parliament seats or 40%.

Prior to GE1990, the opposition did not control a single state government. Prior to GE14, the opposition are the state governments in three states.

Prior to GE1990, all the media were controlled by the government. Prior to GE14, the online media is giving the mainstream media a run for its money in terms of the number of users. Social Media has given another channel to the opposition to send its message to voters.

Prior to GE1990, the opposition was led by a former Minister of Finance who had left UMNO. Prior to GE14, the opposition is led by a former Prime Minister, two former Deputy Prime Ministers, the leader of the opposition, a former Menteri Besar (Kedah), a Menteri Besar (Selangor) and a Chief Minister (Penang).

Prior to GE1990, the young leaders in the opposition were not well known by many. Prior to GE14, the young leaders in Pakatan Harapan who are 40 and under include Nurul Izzah, Syed Saddiq, Nik Nazmi, Wong Kah Woh, Hannah Yeoh, Zairil Khir Johari, Steven Sim, Yeo Bee Yin, Kasturi Patto and many others. Other than Khairy Jamaluddin, the most well-known young leader in the BN is arguably Jamal Yunos who aspires to run for the UMNO Youth Chief position.

Prior to GE1990, GST did not exist while petrol, sugar, cooking oil and other subsidies were still in place. Prior to GE14, the implementation of the GST and the withdrawal of various subsidies have decreased the income of the people and increased the cost of living from the cities to the kampungs.

Prior to GE1990, the Prime Minister at that time was not involved in any mega scandals which stained the country’s reputation all over the world. Prior to GE14, Malaysia is more well known as a kleptocratic state as a result of the 1MDB scandal where billions of ringgit are suspected to have been stolen from the Malaysian people and used to buy diamonds, bungalows, paintings and posters, and yachts, among others.

All these factors do not mean that a Malay swing of 15% from the BN to the opposition will take place. But, one wonders, does Said Salleh’s blogpost show that UMNO itself is afraid that this Malay vote swing to the opposition will become a reality in GE14?

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang

[1] https://sskeruak.blogspot.my/2017/08/analisis-ong-kian-ming-menarik-tetapi.html?m=1

Is a 15% Malay swing against the BN in GE14 realistic?

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, on the 26th of August 2017

Is a 15% Malay swing against the BN in GE14 realistic?

My colleague and Member of Parliament for Kluang, Liew Ching Tong, has been discussing the possibility of a Malay tsunami in the upcoming 14th General Election which will allow Pakatan Harapan (PH) to win power at the federal level.

DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang has written about a 10 and 5 formula whereby a swing of 10% against the BN by Malay voters and a swing of 5% by non-Malay voters would enable PH to win 113 out of 165 parliament seats (or 68% of seats) in Peninsular Malaysia, thereby paving the way for PH to get to Putrajaya.

How much of a Malay swing against the BN is needed for PH to win Putrajaya? Is a Malay tsunami in the form of a 15% Malay vote swing against the BN something realistic?

To answer the question of whether a 15% Malay vote swing against the BN is a realistic projection in GE14, we must examine vote swings among other voting ‘blocks’ in previous general elections in Malaysia.

Table 1 below shows the estimated support for the BN by racial group and changes in racial support for the BN from 1995 to 2013.

Table 1: Estimated support for the BN by racial groups in Peninsular Malaysia, 1995 to 2013

1995 1999 2004 2008 2013
Malay 81% 54% (-27%) 65% (+11%) 59% (-6%) 64% (+5%)
Chinese 55% 65% (+10%) 75% (+10%) 35% (-40%) 14% (-21%)
Indian >90% >90% (NA) >90% (NA) 48% (-42%) 38% (-10%)

(Change from one election to the next is in brackets) (NA = Not Available)

Source: Estimates by Dr. Ong Kian Ming

From Table 1, there has been one instance of a more than 15% swing in Malay support against the BN, which was during the 1999 ‘Reformasi’ election where BN’s support among the Malays fell by 27% from 81% in 1995 to 54% in 1999. PAS emerged as the largest opposition party in parliament after the 1999 general elections. The loss in support for the BN was felt most in the northern states of Kedah, Teregganu and Kelantan where PAS won most of its parliament seats. What ‘saved’ the BN in the 1999 GE was its high level of support among non-Malay voters. Chinese support for the BN increased by an estimated 10%, from 55% in 1995 to 65% in 1999. Indian support for the BN remained high at over 90%.

In the 2004 GE, Malay support for the BN rebounded somewhat when it increased by 11% from 54% to 65%. BN support among the Chinese increased by a further 10% to an estimated 75%, one of the highest levels in Malaysian history. This was the Pak Lah tsunami effect which allowed the BN to capture 91% of parliament seats.

In the 2008 GE, the BN suffered a tremendous drop in its non-Malay support. BN support among the Chinese voters fell by 40% (from 75% to 35%) while BN support among the Indian voters, mostly because of the Hindraf movement, fell by at least 42% (from more than 90% to 48%). BN support among the Malays fell by a smaller amount, from 65% to 59%, a drop of only 6%.

In the 2013 GE, BN support among the Malays increased slightly, by 5%, from 59% to 64% while BN support among the Chinese and Indians fell by a further 21% and 10% respectively to 14% and 38%.

To go back to the initial question, how much of a Malay swing can we expect in GE14? A Malay swing of 10% is not out of the question given the impact of Tun Dr. Mahathir and the formation of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) and later on, the creation of Pakatan Harapan which includes PPBM. With a historically unpopular Prime Minister, the 1MDB scandal, and the impact of the GST and rise in the cost of living, the Malay vote is likely to swing against the BN in GE14. A Malay swing against the BN of 15% would bring BN’s Malay support to about 50% which would leave BN teetering on a knife’s edge. A swing of 15% or more in any voting block doesn’t usually occur but we are living in unusual circumstances. It happened in 1999 among the Malay voters and it happened again in 2008 among the non-Malay voters. If I had been told in 2013 that Dr. Mahathir and Tan Sri Muhyiddin would form a new political party to fight UMNO in GE14, I would have said that you were out of your mind. And yet, what was then unthinkable is now reality. As unlikely as a 15% swing may sound, it is not out of the realm of impossibility.

Of course, if there is a 15% swing in the Malay vote against the BN, the next question we have to ask is how much of this swing would go to PH and how much of this would go to PAS? To answer this question would require another media statement…

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang