The Chinese are restless these days. Restless when the Malaysian 13th General Election (GE13) has been dubbed as a ‘Chinese tsunami’. Instead, the Malaysian Chinese renamed the GE13 phenomena as, a ‘Malaysian tsunami’, and even an ‘urban tsunami’.
So, what’s the big deal? A tsunami is a tsunami after all. The tsunami that occurred in the western coast of Sumatra is called an Indonesian tsunami. The tsunami that consumed Japan’s nuclear power plants is often referred to as a Japanese tsunami.
Thus, why can’t GE13 be a Chinese tsunami? After all, wasn’t it not the Chinese who came all out to bring down the ruling government of Malaysia? Wasn’t it the Chinese who became over-zealously vocal against the government of the day? Wasn’t it the Chinese who organized a massive come-back-home-to-vote campaign for all non-Malays residing overseas?
As a matter of fact, if it hadn’t been a massive flip in the Chinese votes, the Barisan Nasional government would not have done as bad in GE13. If it wasn’t due to the imminent Chinese threat, the BN government would not have to outmaneuver its way to a variety of ‘creative vote-grabbing’ techniques.
There were 13.3 million eligible voters out of an estimated 28 million Malaysian population. Out of these, 29.68% (3.89 million) are Chinese voters. For the last 56 years, BN party administered the country with as little as 60:20:50 support (as in 2008 GE) from the Malay, Chinese and Indian communities, respectively. The Malays have always eschewed towards BN (60% pro-BN); the Indians, about half (50%) ; whereas the Chinese have always been rebellious and prefer an opposing voice (20%).
In Bukit Katil parliamentary seat which used to be a BN strong point, for instance. This seat was traditionally a BN stronghold that Najib picked Ali Rustam, Melaka’s incumbent Chief Minister as a contender. During the 13th general election, the Chief Minister was unseated and lost by 5447 votes. The opposition PKR’s candidate won 46167 votes, versus the ex-CM’s 40720 from a total number of 94068 voters turnout.
The total number of registered voters in Bukit Katil’s parliament was 99,581, with a voter demography as follows: 53% Malays (52778), 41% Chinese (40828) and 6% Indians (5975). BN’s Melaka war room director claimed that in Bukit Katil’s seat alone, the Malay votes had actually increased from 60% to 75%; the Indians from 50% to 65%; whereas the Chinese support went down from 20% to a mere 5%.
“There were so many such cases. If that wasn’t solid prove of a Chinese tsunami, I wonder what is,” exclaimed a member of the state’s war room post-election analyst team.
But then, as a number of Chinese analysts lamented, the opposition party obtained a grand total of 5.624 million votes. Even if the Chinese gave PKR the bulk (or 95%) of its total votes (which comes up to 3.04 million), there were still the remaining 3 million votes given by the Malays and Indians.
Precisely. If it is indeed true that 95% of the Chinese votes went to the opposition, that would mean at least 35% of the Indian votes (roughly 630,000) and roughly 23% of the Malay votes (1.98 million) went toward the rest of the total votes received by the opposition.
Thus, BN’s dismal performance during GE13 cannot be said to be a Malaysian tsunami because there was actually a last minute increase in support from both the Malay and Indian voters, particularly from urban areas.
Could it then be called an urban tsunami? Not really, because even in urban areas the Malays still voted in favor of the ruling government. Nonetheless, their votes were easily outnumbered by the high non-Malay population in major cities.
Barisan Nasional’s fear campaign seemed to work miraculously. Although the Malay voters were as much disgusted to BN’s rampant corruption and mismanagement of the country’s resources as their Chinese counterparts, but the fear that DAP’s less-compromising Chinese would one day control the Malay Kingdom overruled the need for a change of government.
If such claim (that GE13 was indeed a ‘movement’ lead by the Chinese ethnic group) is true, then why were the Chinese so against the label, “the Chinese tsunami”?
First, because it would mean telling the world, it was a crusade made by a single ethnic group, whereas other ethnic groups were contented with the ruling government at status quo. To be a legitimate struggle, it needs to be shared by all ethnic groups, particularly by the Malay majority.
Second, it would mean future retaliations by the BN government by singling out this one particular dissenting ethnic group. No more freebies. It would finally sink in the BN government’s head that no matter how generous they may be to this group, the Chinese votes could not easily be swayed.
Third and possibly the most important of all, possible repercussions by Malay groups and NGOs brought about by an over-extensive racism calls. By showing that the Chinese prefer to cast their votes in favor of opposition Chinese-based DAP candidates and fellow Chinese candidates over other races, it would clearly invite right-wing Malay groups to call for nationwide boycott for Chinese businesses and Chinese products.
It would be even more detrimental if the government of the day, in a tit-for-tat move, embark on a mega scale to empower the Malays with retail distribution businesses across the board, which are currently monopolized by the Chinese. What, after all is more important to the Chinese than their means of livelihood?
On the other hand, the habitual practice for Malay politicians favoring Chinese businessmen in return for back payments need to stop immediately. As it is, the 1Malaysia slogan promoted by Mr Najib, was interpreted by the Malays as ‘giving in more’ of their constitution-enshrined rights to the Chinese. Which as a result, saw an almost immediate establishment of PERKASA, a right-wing Malay NGO. Suddenly, the Malays are demanding for their rights, more than ever, to be protected in line to UMNO’s original purpose of existence.
Notwithstanding, Malay politicians who may be overly complacent in their high-powered positions, will one day find themselves in a situation, just like the former minister of Melaka, Mr Ali Rustam. During an informal late night supper with a group of trusted supporters, sadly Mr Ali confessed:
“(During my tenure) I allocated ‘meat’ to the Chinese businessmen and left only ‘small fish’ to the Malays. And this is how the Chinese thanked me.”
Back to the question: so, was it a Chinese tsunami? But of course it was, no matter how much they may wish to refute it.