Prime Minister Najib Razak may adopt the direct candidate method which was successfully employed by PBB president Adenan Satem in the recent Sarawak state election, political scientist James Chin said today.
“Some seats are problematic. Both MCA and Gerakan are weak. Najib has to think on whether they are winnable candidates.
“MCA presidents never stood in a Chinese-majority seat.
“Najib is more likely to use the direct candidate system,” said Chin, who is a director of University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute. He is also a senior fellow at the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia.
Chin said this when delivering a public lecture entitled “The 2016 Sarawak Elections: Team Adenan and Other Stories” at Sunway University.
He added that the direct candidate system would be most beneficial in seats where the chances of winning are 50-50 between PAS and BN.
In the Sarawak polls held on May 7, the PBB-led BN coalition under the leadership of Adenan won with a landslide victory, winning 72 out of the 82 seats offered. PKR maintained its three seats while DAP’s share was reduced to seven seats.
On the polls, Chin, who is a Sarawakian himself, said that he is expecting Sarawakians to enjoy more autonomy compared to Sabah.
“This is because Umno is entrenched in Sabah and the state has a Muslim majority,” he said.
He explained that Sarawak is not a Christian-majority state but being a Christian is not equated to being anti-government.
Christians make up about 42% to 44% of the population in Sarawak.
On another note, he said that only Sarawak has been able to separate state and federal issues effectively.
“This would cause the re-emergence of split votes where people would support the state government and send Rocket to KL,” he added.
Another observation he made was that Adenan’s successful polls campaign had halted Umno’s plans to get into Sarawak.
Adenan had hijacked the Sarawak for Sarawakians campaign call from state opposition parties such as the State Reform Party (Star).
Chin also highlighted four mistakes committed by the opposition parties.
“They refused to use Taib Mahmud as an issue. They would have done better if they did.
“They felt that it would be seditious if they did since the former chief minister is now the governor.”
The second issue was the PKR-DAP clash which he blamed on KL-based leaders looking beyond the election.
DAP also was blamed for forgetting who its ‘real enemy’ was.
”Who is the real enemy of DAP? It is not PBB or PRS. It’s main enemy is SUPP,” he said.
“In Batu Kawah the DAP candidate was weak. She was campaigning in rural areas instead of against SUPP president.
DAP should have provided additional resources,” he said.
As for PKR, Chin said the party erred on two fronts. First PKR spread too thin to show that it is bigger than DAP and second its MPs were not as committed as the DAP’s in campaigning.
On the BN side, Chin credited Najib for effectively giving out grants on the spot to the people in rural areas.
“It swung the undecided voters,” he said.– May 13, 2016.