Monday, May 13, 2013

Start Planning For The Next One

As Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim got 100,000 people together in in Kuala Lumpur for a rally to protest alleged electoral fraud in last week’s Malaysian General Election, I have to question; "Is this is the correct move for the opposition?"

Do I think there was fraud in the election? Yes, I do. Do I think it was so massive that the 133 to 89 victory by the Barisan Nasional (BN) government would be overturned? No.

The reason is in the numbers. Currently, Anwar’s allegation is that has been cheated of up to 30 seats due to electoral fraud. Frankly, even if Anwar is proven right in two thirds of those 30 seats, the opposition would still lose!

The margin of victory may be inflated by fraud but it's hard to imagine BN not winning the election with the information we have now. So what I think the Malaysian opposition should do now is to take the result as what it is; a moral victory where they not only stop BN from getting the two third majority but also took more seats from them. They should do this and look to the future; figure out what went wrong in this election and rectify the identified problems. Top of the agenda is the lack of votes from the rural areas of Malaysia.

Like many people who had looked at the results, I believe there is an urban-rural spilt in the Malaysian electoral. The opposition did very well in urban areas but I think it says a lot that they lost Kedah and Perak as badly as they did. These 2 mostly rural states were taken by the opposition in 2008 but the opposition was comprehensively beaten this time round.

This is the reason why BN won despite losing the popular vote. Whereas the Malaysia opposition did very well in highly populated city areas, BN won the rest of the seats in the countryside. This is a weakness the Malaysian opposition needs to rectify because…well, most of Malaysia are rural areas! It’s a simple case of geography!

With Prime Minister Najib Razak more worried about a leadership challenge in UMNO (United Malays National Organisation) than the opposition now, this is the perfect time for the Malaysian opposition to plan how to get votes from rural Malaysia in the next election. The battle in 2013 is over and with UMNO too busy fighting each other, the opposition should make the most of this head start and start planning for the next one.  

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