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

Full details of the Political Donations and Expenditure Act must be known before a decision to support or not can be made

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, Member of Parliament for Serdang, on the 30th of March 2017

Full details of the Political Donations and Expenditure Act must be known before a decision to support or not can be made

Yesterday, on the 29th of March, 2017, myself together with my colleagues, Anthony Loke (Seremban), Teresa Kok (Seputeh), Chong Chien Jen (Bandar Kuching), Julian Tan (Stampin), Oscar Ling (Sibu), Jeff Ooi (Jelutong) and Ng Wei Aik (Tanjong) met with Senator Datuk Paul Low, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department to discuss the details of the Political Donations and Expenditure Act.

The recommendations[1] of the National Consultative Committee on Political Financing were published on its website on the 30th of September 2016.[2]

We expressed our disappointment that this committee chose to only focus on political donations and expenditure without addressing larger issues of reform which are linked to political donations and expenditure including the independence of the Election Commission as well as the office of the Attorney General (AG).

We also highlighted some of the shortcomings of the recommendations including the proposal to lift all spending limits and not to have a cap on political donations to political parties and individuals. This will skew an already uneven playing field in favour of the Barisan Nasional (BN).

At the same time, we welcome the following recommendations:

  • The creation of an office of the Controller of Political Donations and Expenditure and the assurance of a transparent and fair process to appoint the Controller
  • The creation of a parliamentary standing committee on political financing to scrutinise the work of the Controller on behalf of Parliament
  • That state funding be provided to support the effective operations of the constituency offices of the elected Members of Parliament and elected State Legislative Assembly members
  • The ban on state owned companies and companies receiving government contracts and concessions from making any political contributions
  • Steps to be taken to criminalise discrimination or victimisation of donors and the creation of a mechanism to enable donors who feel they have been unfairly treated to seek justice

We informed the Minister that state funding for MPs should include access to constituency development funds which are currently being denied to opposition MPs.

We also took note that many of the finer details to do with the implementation of the proposed act have not yet been confirmed and is in the process of being ironed out by the technical committee.

We appreciate the assurance by the Minister that he will keep us informed of any future developments with regards to this proposed bill and that he ‘will not spring any surprises’ on us.

We will await the full details of the proposed bill before we decide on whether to support the bill or not.

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang

Photo: DAP MPs meeting with Paul Low

[1] http://transparency.org.my/what-we-do/reforming-political-financing/full-report-from-the-national-consultative-committee-on-political-financing/

[2] http://politicalfinancing.my/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/Media-STATEMENT-JKNMPP-English-final-290916.pdf

Abdul Rahman Dahlan’s recent statements show why we cannot expect the BN to implement a fair political financing system

Media Statement by Dr. Ong Kian Ming, MP for Serdang, on the 24th of October 2016

Abdul Rahman Dahlan’s recent statements show why we cannot expect the BN to implement a fair political financing system

The Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Abdul Rahman Dahlan, is no stranger to making controversial statements in order to propel himself up the ranks of the UMNO leadership. But even I was shocked at his latest tweets where he proposed to blacklist companies with government contracts who support Bersih because he accuses Bersih of having an agenda to illegally topple the government.

Firstly, it is shocking to see a Minister accuse Bersih of having an agenda to illegally topple the government. None of the initial 8 demands of Bersih which includes calls for institutional and electoral reform calls for the government to be toppled via illegal means. These 8 demands were simplified to 5 main points for the upcoming Bersih 5 rally – clean elections, clean government, the right to dissent, protect parliamentary democracy, save the economy – and none of them calls for the government to be toppled via illegal means.

In fact, I tweeted a challenge to Abdul Rahman Dahlan (@mpkotabelud) asking him to point to any one statement by a Bersih leader which called for the illegal toppling of the government through the upcoming Bersih 5 rally on the 19th of November, 2016 and he did not respond.

Secondly, I question the right of the Minister to blacklist companies who support Bersih and ban them from getting government contracts. On what legal grounds is the Minister basing his actions on? Will the Minister target companies who support opposition parties next?

Thirdly, the actions of the Minister clearly show that the BN has no credibility when it comes to implementing a political financing act that is fair and impartial. If the Minister wants to target companies for supporting Bersih based on spurious and baseless grounds, what is to prevent the BN from selectively discriminating against companies and individuals who support the opposition if this information has to be revealed under a Political Financing Act?

The bullying and fear mongering tactics of Abdul Rahman Dahlan must be soundly rejected by all Malaysians.

Dr. Ong Kian Ming
Member of Parliament for Serdang