Will multi-cornered contests lose us an otherwise winnable 14th GE?

Posted on April 20, 2018

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many-colours-one-dream923089_576322912401152_1069880995_n Some 5 months after the last GE, I wrote this :

“By middle of last year, the Strategic Evaluation and Advancement Team (SEAT) at ABU had come up with its plan to take UMNO / BN out of Putrajaya at the 13th GE.

First, there had to be 222 straight contests in all the parliamentary constituencies. Never mind if BN threw in independent candidates. Opposition parties had to work it so that they only offered one candidate.

Next, win the media war in the Malay heartlands.

Finally, prevent UMNO / BN cheating by the use of foreigners to vote on polling day.

ABU would work the second and third.

The first was in the hands of the opposition party leaders…

…Together with our allies in ABU, we would target 62 parliamentary seats in Malaya.”

I am not done quoting from what I wrote earlier, but let me just make an observation here.

The ABU strategy in the last election was this.

  1. Opposition parties were to work it out so that they only offered 1 candidate in each seat.
  2. The Malays in the heartlands had to be won over.
  3. We had to stop the cheating on polling day
  4. The focus had to be on the marginal seats

What happened?

In the case of 2, 3 and 4, in so far as the ABU effort was concerned, I believe it was a case of too little and just too late.

What about 1?

We were let down.

I quote again from my earlier post :

“From January until September, last year, I made numerous trips to Labuan to meet leaders from Sabah, from SAPP and STAR, both to get information  as well as to share what information I was getting on the ground there.

Information I was getting was that the mood for change was so strong but Sabahans felt great scepticism whether the opposition could unite to so as to take on BN in straight fights in all 25 parliamentary seats.

And if they did not unite, then BN would romp home again.

I took this to the Sabah leaders, and urged them that this time, they had to show themselves to be leaders of the people of Sabah, and not just party leaders, that they had to put party interests aside and put the interest of the people first before all else.

I shared with them that based on our intelligence gathering, if we put up a united front against BN in GE13, and did all that needed to be done, we were good for 121 parliamentary seats.

8 from Sarawak, 14 from Sabah, and 99 from Malaya.

Back here in Malaya, we tried to take the same message to Pakatan leaders who would give us the time of day.

This time, please, be leaders of the people, and not just your parties.”

Opposition finally won only 3 parliamentary seats in Sabah.

Kota Kinabalu, Penampang and Sandakan.

Check and you will find that Pensiangan, Kota Marudu, Beaufort, Keningau and Tenom could well have been won by the opposition had there been straight contests there.

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I suggest that the strategy for the 14th GE remains the same.

  1. Opposition parties need to work it out so that they only offer 1 candidate in each seat. Exclude PAS in this regard. Treat them as in bed with UMNO.
  2. The Malays in the heartlands have to be won over. Priority targets must be the fence-sitters, the as yet undecided. Getting votes from UMNO and PAS supporters would be the surprise bonus.
  3. We have to stop the cheating on polling day
  4. The focus had to be on the marginal seats

I think 2 has been and is continuing to be tirelessly worked on by INVOKE and the PH leaders. I hope that voters who may be going back to their respective kampung over the next few weeks will also do their part in sharing with folk back home on the real situation in the country.

As for 3, Bersih, Tindak Malaysia, INVOKE and many more NGOs, together with the opposition parties are working to get PACA volunteers trained and ready to be deployed at polling and counting centres on polling day, particularly for the all-important marginal seats. PATRIOT is looking to serve as PACA when the armed forces and police personnel cast their early votes. Efforts are being made to see how abuse of postal votes can be minimised, if not prevented altogether. As for the possibility of phantom voters going to vote on polling day, I will write on this on another day.

With regard to 4, I think everyone who is seriously working to see the end of UMNO / BN this 14th GE knows that the focus has to be on defending the marginal seats won by the opposition in the 13th GE whilst going all out to win the BN-held marginal seats.

That leaves 1.

And this my concern.

Lets look at Malaya first, and I only want to focus on the parliamentary seats.

Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) has announced that it will be contesting in four parliamentary and 12 state assembly seats.

The four parliamentary seats are Batu Gajah (K Kunasegaran ), Sungai Buloh, previously called Subang ( Zainurizzaman Moharan ), Cameron Highlands ( Suresh Kumar ), and Sungai Siput ( Dr Jeyakumar ).

Of these, only Dr Jeyakumar is known to me.

He has been the MP of Sungai Siput for 2 terms. In the last election, he beat the MIC candidate with a slim majority of 2,793.

I don’t think that anyone will dispute that Dr Jeyakumar must be fully supported in his quest to be re-elected, and there should not be any question of PH fielding a candidate in Sungai Siput.

As for the other 3 seats,

  • Batu Gajah was won by Sivakumar of DAP, beating a MCA candidate by a majority of 38,410
  • Cameron Highlands was won by Palanivel, then of MIC, beating DAP candidate M. Manogaran by a majority of 462
  • Sungai Buloh ( previously called Subang ) was won by Sivarasa of PKR, beating a MIC candidate with a majority  of 26,719.

Why are PSM intent on contesting these 3 seats?

I don’t know.

Are they justified in contesting those seats?

Again, I don’t know.

They may very well have good reason to, and may have good reason to believe that their candidates offer the rakyat the best prospects of winning these seats

What I do know is that of these 3 seats, two were won comfortably by the opposition the last round and must be defended at all cost, whilst the third is up for grabs with the right opposition candidate.

I also know that there is every likelihood that all 3 will be lost to UMNO / BN if PH and PSM do not sort things out so that only one candidate is put up.

Cross over to Sabah.

There appears to now be 4 packs vying for 25 parliamentary seats.

Pakatan Harapan Sabah ( PHS ).

Warisan.

Gabungan Sabah comprising  Parti Solidariti Tanahairku (STAR), Parti Maju Sabah (SAPP), Parti Perpaduan Rakyat Sabah (PPRS) dan Parti Harapan Rakyat Sabah (Harapan Rakyat).

Finally, the collaboration between Parti Kerjasama Anak Negeri (Anak Negeri) and Parti Cinta Sabah (PCS)

Unless I am mistaken, PHS and Warisan appear to have worked out the sharing of the parliamentary seats between them.

All 25.

Then we have Jeffrey Kitingan announcing that the four parties making up Gabungan will be contesting almost all 25 parliamentary seats, and the division of the same amongst them has been sorted out.

We are already staring at 3 or more cornered contests in all 25 parliamentary seats, without taking account of the Anak Negeri – PCS alliance.

At this rate, how do we expect to fare better than the 3 seats taken in Sabah in 2013 and, if we can’t, are we going to be let down again.

Once again, I ask the leaders of all these parties, both in Malaya and in Sabah, this election, please, for the sake of a suffering rakyat, be leaders of the people, and not just your parties.

Put aside party interest and hold as paramount the urgent need to save the nation by wresting Putrajaya from UMNO / BN.

As a matter of urgency, both in Malaya and in Sabah, thrash it out and work compromises so that we have only one opposition candidate in each parliamentary seat.

In this regard, PH is best placed to take the lead in this effort.

In seats where compromise cannot be reached, again, for the sake of the rakyat, refer these to mediation and abide by the decision of such a mediator.

In Malaya, in relation to any seat where compromise cannot be reached by PH and PSM, I suggest the impasse be left to be resolved by Dato Ambiga.

In Sabah, I suggest Tan Sri Simon Sipaun mediate.