Celebrating Mahathir’s defeat, not Najib’s victory

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The frenzy of predictions for football games as the weekend approaches is nothing compared to the zeal that’s buzzing nationwide ahead of the general election. Termed the “Battle of Titans”, it will be interesting to see if GE14 lives up to the hype.

Merdeka Center is back with its Nostradamus-like prophecies. Malaysia’s independent pollster predicts that Barisan Nasional (BN) will prevail in GE14 despite losing popular support. Its survey predicts that Pakatan Harapan (PH) will win 43.7% of the popular vote while BN will obtain 40.3%. In the last general election, the opposition coalition had 3.49% more of the popular vote compared to BN. In predictions for GE14, the difference in predicted popular vote is 3.4%.

A Selangor government-owned think tank, Institut Darul Ehsan (IDE), predicts that PH will retain Selangor’s legislative assembly but could lose its two-thirds majority as BN is expected to win more seats in the state. Can we draw anything from these predictions?

In 2013, Merdeka Center ran surveys, too. Prior to the election, it estimated Pakatan Rakyat (PR) would win 89 seats and BN 85 seats. Forty-six parliamentary seats were labelled a “toss-up” that could go either way, and another two, it was predicted, would fall to parties aligned with neither BN nor PR. What was the final result? Merdeka Center was spot on with regards to the number of seats won by PR, as PR did indeed obtain 89 seats. However, BN outdid the predictions by obtaining 133 seats.

But given the large turnouts in rallies for PH and Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s optimism based on the attendance, how is it that the predictions give a different story?

Firstly, this is because most of PH’s rallies are held in areas where the opposition triumphed in the previous polls. People in those areas are not going to add to the existing tally anyway. Remember, the huge turnouts were there even during the last election where everyone thought BN was going to be washed away.

Secondly, one has to consider the fact that PAS is not part of PH. Say what we want, it would be foolish to assume PAS is insignificant. Smaller turnouts in street rallies after DAP divorced PAS cannot be taken for granted. While it is true that PAS would stand no chance in urban areas, why not take a drive to the rural areas and witness for yourself whether PAS boasts more support or PH.

Thirdly, the redelineation exercise that recently concluded will only favour BN. In the 1999 general election under Mahathir’s leadership, BN lost its two-thirds majority and only obtained 56.5% of the popular vote – a drop of over 8% compared to previous elections. Following a redelineation exercise before GE11, BN got back its two-thirds majority in the 2004 polls, which was also partly due to people rejoicing over Mahathir’s resignation.

In the past, we have seen rowdy behaviour from BN supporters. The unruliness and lack of respect in their mannerism disgusted us. Today, we are seeing the same kind of individuals supporting PH. The slander and disparaging remarks made on social media against anybody that speaks a different language than PH has turned many BN supporters into sleeper cells.

Even national icons like Lee Chong Wei and Tony Fernandes are being personally attacked. It is disgusting to see individuals who have contributed absolutely nothing to the glory of the country slandering those who keep our flag flying in the international arena. These people completely lack the finesse the opposition once boasted.

Mahathir’s lack of apathy towards those who are not in his favour will work against PH too. Firstly, Mahathir’s visit to a former PAS president’s grave 16 years after his demise has not worked out well, especially in the Malay heartland. Subsequently, he wanted to visit the grave of Tok Guru Tuan Nik Aziz.

As Mahathir had slandered the faith and ways of the late Tuan Guru Nik Aziz in the past, it came as no surprise that the family pulled the shutter down on him. Mahathir is a political chameleon that will go to any extent to win.

The youth of today may not know him, but those of us who lived through his tyranny will never cast the ballot in his favour. In less than 48 hours, we will see if Merdeka Center’s prediction is right again. I am sure many of the older generation are eagerly waiting to celebrate Mahathir’s first defeat, rather than Prime Minister Najib Razak’s victory.

Karamjit Gill is an FMT reader.

The views expressed by the writer are not necessarily those of FMT.