Friday, November 11, 2016

US Presidential Election and Pakatan Harapan

The US presidential result you already know, many
analyses you might have already came across, so I waste no time here.
What I find relevant is the observation of low voter turnout on the US polling day… 46.9% reported not voting.
This trend of lower voter turnout is actually also a current issue plaguing our opposition coalition here in Malaysia for the past 2 years.
In the last General Election, Malaysia had achieved the record highest turnout rate: 84.8%. Due to malapportionment and Gerrymandering flaw practices by EC in our electoral system, BN managed to hang on their governance seats in Putrajaya, despite losing popular votes for the second time in history (first in 1969).
Following by-elections held after Teluk Intan (including the most recent twin-by elections in Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar), PR/PH’s electoral performance had been marred by lower voter turnout and less enthusiastic supporters' sentiment. Even the combined number of votes for the opposition parties still could not overcome BN's.
What caused more than 10% depressed voters decided not going to poll stations in the recent twin by-elections? Maybe the same question is also for Hillary in US -- what happened to the 5% voters missing from the poll, and another 2-3% more voters rather voting for unelectable third party candidates?
If the Democratic Party’s main campaign was to go against Trump, portrayed how bad the Republican candidate is and hope this would work to pull more people voting for their party candidate Hillary Clinton, then they know how wrong it was. Michael Moore’s pre-poll prediction is correct, the Hillary problem and depressed voters would give way to President Trump. The difference between Obama and Clinton is that, the former represented hope and vision. That actually gave impetus and reasons for voters to vote FOR him because they believe in him, rather than they voted for him because they were so disgusted with another candidate. Some might have even volunteered and campaigned for Obama. We could see less number for Clinton this time round.
Same here for Pakatan… if they do not go to ground (in rural and mixed areas) collect sufficient feedback from the middle-lower and lower-income households, find and devise good policy solutions to the general (and specific area) problems, then I imagine it would be difficult for Pakatan parties to urge fence-sitting voters coming out to vote for them (don’t even mention to convert BN supporters). Banging BN probably will be same old tunes to many voters' ears, that would not be enough to deliver the crucial winning votes.
Many would want to hear more fresh and coherent ideas from Pakatan, and how Pakatan's vision and policies could be different. Whether or not Pakatan wants to admit it… in the last GE, their manifesto was populist and their policy proposals were too-urban centric (eg. abolish tolls, lower car price). As far as I understood, there was also no serious policy research done before drafting out the manifesto and policy framework… will Pakatan Harapan be any different next time? I worry.

BN always hold two sets of strong cards in ‘racial’ and ‘religious’ identity, does Pakatan have good, consistent, coherent and clear counter-arguments that could win hearts and minds for all (if not most) Malaysians, or at least stop the lingering doubts about Pakatan's stand? Vagueness would not instill confidence for many voters.
On socioeconomic, sustainable development and environmental issues, can Pakatan distinguish themselves from BN policies? The current two PH-governed states have to show good examples so to convince voters that their actions are actually consistent with what they promised before.
With the Bersih 5 rally date approaching, the general public enthusiasm is still quite dampening at this time point. This signifies the change of public sentiment and it is very telling even for civil society.
Will our opposition coalition also suffer from the ‘Hillary problem’ – too much political baggage, lack vision and direction (besides united to defeat BN in one-on-one fights – most voters wouldn't even care), too elitist until stay out of touch with grassroots’ daily life concerns?
With the next general election will likely be called within 2 years, Pakatan Harapan must present and sell ‘HOPE’ to general masses, as much as they claim themselves representing ‘Harapan’. No use just talking about power-grabbing and seat-arrangement strategies. Lower voter turnout will dent their hope in Putrajaya even further. If that is the case, poor Anwar would have to suffer in the jail for longer period.

No comments: