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UMNO had an upper hand over PAS before February 1988 but today UMNO Baru is losing to PAS and PKR. Leaders in UMNO Baru have failed UMNO irretrievably. A failing UMNO Baru now is causing the resurgence of PAS and PKR. The tendency now is for the Malays to support PAS and PKR more than UMNO Baru. And contingently there is a significant number of Malays supporting DAP as well, leaving Barisan Nasional trailing in the race for the 13th general election.
There is a “contingent factor” here that has affected the opinions of Malays on PAS. They are just seeking a clean government when they see UMNO Baru smirched with all sorts of baggage – from abuse of power, denial syndromes to corruption.
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The success of Pakatan government
In a recent study of 2876 Malays from all sectors – government, private and self-employed – in Kelang Valley it was found that there is a significant upward trend of support for PAS. PAS and the Opposition in general have managed to groove a four to five percent more support than they managed to secure in the 2008 general election.
The majority in the study pointed out that the success of Pakatan government in Selangor and Penang has generally influenced their opinions. “We now feel that PAS, PKR and DAP can become a better alternative to Barisan Nasional.” Seemingly, the success of PKR-led Selangor government and DAP-led Penang government has very much influenced their opinions and this is contingently part of PAS’ success.
When asked, “Would Malay power be windswept when UMNO loses in the next general election?” The response was generally in the negative – No. “There is no issue of Malay power being eroded here. PAS and PKR also represent the Malays and the issue of Malay power is a non-issue. If MCA is no threat to UMNO, DAP too will be no threat to the Malays.”
The spiritual leader of PAS, Nik Aziz Nik Mat, has equally influenced their opinions on PAS. When asked on the spiritual leader’s role in PAS, the Malays felt that “Nik Aziz is indeed a significant personality in PAS. To most people Nik Aziz is a symbol of uprightness. “He is a man of high integrity, lives a simple life and also being liked by most people – Muslims and non-Muslims.”
“If Nik Aziz is seen as a symbol of integrity we have leaders like Khalid Ibrahim and Lim Guan Eng who are clean and honest. In fact, PAS as well as Pakatan have many clean and upright leaders who are real assets to the country.”
We are not dumb
The Malay opinion on PAS lawmakers is also significantly positive, as “they have stood steady with the party through good and bad times”. “The fact that not a single PAS lawmaker has jumped ship since the last general election has inspired the Malays. “As for Hassan Ali, the majority felt that “his sacking from PAS is not going to give any adverse impact on PAS. Hassan has lost everything by breaking the party rank.”
The media propaganda is backfiring. The majority Malays were found to have no faith in the government-controlled media and “they do not believe in what is being propagated by UMNO over the media”. “No wrongdoings of UMNO leaders are mentioned in UMNO-controlled media as they are politically gagged. From Altantuya’s issue, first lady’s shopping spree and to the latest Scorpene scandal being heard in the court in France nothing is mentioned in these media.”
“We are not dumb and are now more inclined to accept the alternative media – Internet news and the alternative print media.”
UMNO Baru is also perceived as an “uncouth” party. The majority Malay felt that “UMNO is trying to be too racist by using uncouth means to put down the other Malays and races. The use of ‘sex’ to debase political figures does not go well with our Malay culture. This is impudent and against our own culture and religion.”
Part of UMNO’s problems
Perkasa has added salt to UMNO’s wound. UMNO’s image is badly tarnished when Perkasa has been going overboard with their treasonable acts against the Opposition. “Perkasa is now part of UMNO’s problem. We are not happy with the many past incidences of violence against the Opposition rallies and ceramah. Their audacious behaviour has made many Malays disaffected from UMNO.”
A significant number of Malays have the opinion that there is an uneven playing ground in politics where the Opposition is not given any chance to air their views over the government controlled media. “This gag is making the Malays gradually turning to the alternative media.”
The success of Selangor government under the capable leadership of Pakatan government has influenced their opinions significantly. Over 78 percent of the Malays feel that Pakatan can govern well when given the chance to do so. “This is also part of PAS’ contribution to the pact and we feel those fence-sitters would not mind giving their votes to PAS or Pakatan this time around.”
When UMNO harps on Malay unity by seeking political muzakarah (discussions) with PAS, the Malays see this as UMNO’s desperate move. “UMNO Baru is wilting and their need for PAS now is to salvage their weathered image.”
Over 65 percent feel that there is no need for any muzakarah at this stage as PAS is already well accepted by the Malays. “We fear that the UMNO Baru ‘culture’ will be brought into PAS. We prize PAS as it is – a party for those who fear God more than the material world. We don’t want to a see a corrupt UMNO mortifying the minds of PAS members.”
Already united by race and religion
The majority Malays generally see themselves united as Muslims and by virtue of being Malay but they hate being aligned to dishonest political parties. “We are already united by race and religion. As for politics we differ for some good reasons. We hate dishonesty and hypocrisy. We feel it’s justified to have more than one political party for the Malays.”
As for PAS working with DAP being politically exploited by UMNO, the Malays generally have the opinion that the political intimacy here is not based on religion but “honest leadership” that is devoid of corruption and social injustice. “This is where PAS and DAP overlaps. We are seen to be working on a common platform of good governance and social justice. This is an integral part of Islamic teaching. Just see how the Penang government is led by a Chinese leader. He is an exemplary leader. He is honest, not corrupted. He has no baggage.
“This is Islamic. Quran says: … And let not the hatred of others make you avoid justice. Be just: that is nearer to piety... (5:8)”.
DAP is a multi-racial party
As for DAP’s “threat” to the Malays as inanely labelled by UMNO, the Malays have the opinion that that even when Pakatan takes over Putrajaya it will still be a Malay-dominated government. “The Malays do not brand DAP as a chauvinistic party only UMNO does. DAP is a multi-racial party and we have so much respect for the present Penang leadership – another contingent weight that has built up PAS’ image. It is all through PAS’ sincere co-operation based on common values.”
The Chinese who comprise less than 30 percent of the population are aware that the Malays will always be the major players. “The Chinese only want to choose a better party or players – a party that brings social justice to all Malaysians and is all out against corruption and cronyism. Even when Pakatan takes over Putrajaya, the Malays will definitely be the major players as they form the majority race in Pakatan. DAP is ready for this.”
The educated Malays have the tendency to accept non-raced -based politics. They see PAS as a party for all races – Muslim and non-Muslims. To their perception, social justice in Islam will ensure that racism does not rear its ugly head in politics. “When Pakatan is multi-racial, we see Barisan Nasional still muzzled in the hovel of racism – UMNO for Malays, MCA for Chinese and MIC for Indians.”
They see DAP this time fielding more Malays candidates as it is also a multi-racial party. The Malays are seeing this as a positive step by DAP to portray itself as a multi-racial party. “The day will come when DAP will be dominated by Malay members.”
Never admit their wrongdoings
The Malays see UMNO Baru as a sullied party. “The denial syndrome is affecting leaders of UMNO at all levels. They will never admit their wrongdoings but use the media to deny almost every accusation levelled at them – from abuse of power to corruption.”
UMNO Baru is seen as a vehicle used to dish out projects and contracts to cronies and members. “In UMNO, all are scrambling to be in power to ride the gravy train. Failures of many projects dished out to cronies and incompetent bidders have resulted in wastage of the nation’s resources.”
The cost of living is up and this is affecting the Malays – especially those in the low-income bracket. “We see leaders living in style with so much money to spend lavishly and the poor getting poorer. The one-off ‘bribes’ given to the people is not helping to alleviate the problems faced by the low-income group.”
They also see money politics making a mockery of democracy in the country. “It’s all win by bribing. If there is no bribe there will be no votes for them. This is very unhealthy. It is unIslamic.”
The judiciary is seen by the Malays as being practising “selective” prosecution where the Opposition members are always hounded for UMNO’s political expediency. “We still have doubt in our judiciary, the MACC and the Police. We don’t blame these bodies but UMNO. When politics dictates everything there will be no justice for the people.”
Electoral roll smirched with inconsistencies
The Altantuya’s murder case is still haunting their mind. “We have not forgotten this gruesome murder of this Mongolian lady that took place in the country. It should not have happened. Taking a human life for no sane reason is unIslamic.
Billions of ringgit have been wasted through corruption, bail-overs and poor financial management of national resources and the Malays are not uninformed of all this. “We are aware of all the scandals involving UMNO and Barisan Nasional leaders – from the NFCorp to the PKFZ scandals. Projects are given on the platter to cronies, their subsequent failures and the sub-contracting culture.”
“Mention to us the huge amount of money spent on the prime minister’s daughter’s engagement, the Prime minister’s birthday bash and the first lady’s spending spree – we all know.”
They too perceive the electoral roll as not clean and it is deliberately done so to favour UMNO in elections. “The electoral roll is smirched with inconsistencies. The people’s support for Bersih 3.0 rally is justified. Something is not right with the electoral roll and this has got to do with UMNO Baru that wants to remain in power through deceitful means.
Support for Pakatan
Among the Malay government servants they have the opinion that they will be victimised if they do show their support for UMNO. “We are disappointed as we have to toe the line. We will be kept in cold storage or transferred out if we ever try dictating them to do the right thing. Using teachers and other government servants to promote UMNO politics cannot be accepted. Anyway, we are just waiting to show our support for PAS.”
The study shows that a significant number of Malays have shifted their allegiance to PAS since 2008 for a better Malaysia. As for UMNO, it can go on demeaning PAS, PKR or DAP but the Malay minds have changed significantly. They are seeing all the flaws in UMNO Baru.
As an alternative, a significant number of them are now supporting PAS and PKR.