Should Anwar be blamed for the defeat of Harapan in Melaka?
Should opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim be blamed for the defeat of Pakatan Harapan in the recent Melaka state elections?
The Answer is most definitely not!
An analysis of the Melaka election results will conclusively show that Harapan’s defeat is due to two main factors:
a) the massive loss of Malay votes and
b) the heavy absenteeism of the non-Malay voters.
Such loss of Malay support is due to the migration of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) from the Harapan coalition to team up with new partner PAS, which is a result of the Sheraton coup. The latter was originally engineered by then Harapan interim Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad to avoid having to hand over the premiership to Anwar as promised earlier.
And the non-Malay voter absenteeism is due to the accumulated disillusionment of the Chinese community during Harapan’s short-lived rule over its failure to effect meaningful reforms under the autocratic Mahathir. The latter cold-stored Harapan’s reform agenda while meticulously ensured that Anwar was ostracized from his administration.
Anwar as scapegoat
It is seen from the above causes that the seeds of Harapan’s Melaka’s defeat were planted by Mahathir during his treasonous premiership.
It is hence the height of injustice to single out Anwar as the scapegoat for Harapan’s disappointing electoral performance.
And it is also the height of irony that DAP leaders should publicly call for Anwar’s resignation as the Harapan leader when it is DAP which should take the blame for its servile stance towards PM Mahathir’s betrayal, thus infuriating the Chinese community. Such fury was given vivid expression when Harapan was humiliated by a crushing defeat in the Ijok by-election in Johor in Nov 2019, three months before its fall through the Sheraton coup.
At this stage, let me quote some figures from analyst Bridget Welsch’s analysis to illustrate in quantitative terms Harapan’s loss of Malay votes and the extent of absenteeism of non-Malay voters.
Compared to GE 14 in 2018, Harapan’s share of Malay votes have been halved from 29% to 15%, while the turnout of Chinese and Indian voters have drastically plunged by one third, from 84% to 55%, as compared to Malay voter turnout which declined only 16%, from 85% to 71%. Such changes in turnout of voters along racial lines resulted in Harapan’s defeat in many marginal seats, as Chinese are almost monolithically supportive of Harapan, then, as well as now.
As for DAP’s assertion of PKR’s acceptance of former Umno leader Idris Haron as its candidate as the main cause of an electoral backlash against Harapan, this claim is neither logical nor factual.
Idris Haron is no frog
Idris Haron was no political “frog” as alleged. He didn’t jump from Umno to PKR. He was sacked by Umno long before he joined PKR. He was disaffected by then Melaka government led by Umno’s Sulaiman Ali and wanted the chief minister’s resignation; and Melaka Harapan saw it as an opportunity to restore its GE 14 mandate (stolen through the Sheraton coup) and supported Idris’ move to topple the chief minister. In fact, Idris would have been hailed as a hero if the Melaka governor had toed the Federal line by appointing a Harapan chief minister (who had the majority support through the Idris move) without resorting to a fresh election – to avoid a flare up in the still raging Covid-19.
If there had been a backlash due to Idris’s PKR candidacy, there would have been a spike in Umno’s share of popular votes, but there was none. There was only the loss of Harapan’s Malay votes to the new team of Bersatu-PAS and the loss of Chinese votes through their disinterest to vote.
Now that we have settled the issue of the real causes of Harapan’s defeat in Melaka, what is most important for Harapan is to stop the current finger-pointing and re-consolidate the camaraderie of its component parties – to plan and act rationally as one united force to bring the much-needed reforms to revitalize the country.
Treat the Melaka episode as a learning lesson and the steppingstone for the greater things to come in the coming General Elections 15th.
[By Kim Quek – 28.11.2021]
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