Letter to the Media – Analysis or propaganda?

Letter to the Media – Analysis or propaganda?

By Hafidz Baharom

I read the letter from Liew Chin Tong lambasting analysts as being biased and justifying a Barisan Nasional victory with a main question – who is he trying to convince?

He is correct by saying that if Pakatan Harapan should win over 50 percent of the Malay vote, they would win the next general election. Yet, herein lies the problem – Pakatan Harapan does not have that vote.

And here is something he is perhaps less keen to admit, his side lost a lot of Malay votes when it dumped PAS, while their replacements PPBM and Amanah are not yet gelled together nor gained the momentum of membership to take on both PAS and Umno.

Thus, if anything, his analysis is biased towards not counting the fact that PAS supporters will be the kingmakers in the next general election.

And we saw this immensely during two showpiece gatherings by the Opposition supporters, both Bersih and the Anti-Kleptocracy rally – both of which did not have the numbers to impress even if you had compared it to the lesser Blackout 505 rally.

The word on the ground is that the Malays are now divided three ways between PAS, Umno and Pakatan. Even giving each an equal share of the Malay votes, it would be a 33 percent split among them.

Yet, Liew believes Pakatan can secure an additional 17 percent from PAS or Umno, while somehow maintaining the waning non-Malay vote, which is also another concern.

He has forgotten that there is also fatigue enough to end up stopping people from voting altogether due to the teaming up with PPBM, mostly due to the disapproval of Tun Mahathir Mohamad being the leading voice in this campaign.

While media was keen enough to point out that this has affected mainly Chinese voters to the point of forming Facebook groups, it may in fact be symptomatic among all Malaysians, especially the youth population.

This can be seen by how 40 percent of youth voters are not keen to even register themselves. Thus, Pakatan hosting voter registration rallies on a monthly basis if not weekly, focusing on malls and markets, hopefully nationwide.

But more to the point, it is the hypocrisy of lambasting analysts for having a point of view. Are things so dire in the outlook that Pakatan and Liew need to convince voters by hitting out at any analyst who says otherwise?

Has this become the new propaganda tactic by the Pakatan coalition, to the point that any analysis giving a contrary viewpoint to what is done by their own internal polling and sponsored research institutes must be discredited to stop voters from leaving them?

Isn’t that interestingly desperate?

Yes, people are unhappy with the way things are run, but if Pakatan was so convinced that they had the 50 percent Malay votes, it certainly doesn’t show. In fact, I would say that the Malay vote will be fractured between two major parties – PAS and Umno.

This is because Umno managed to secure the Malay voters more recently for standing up for Jerusalem and Palestine, while DAP supporters discredited the move by laughing at the thought of us leading a peacekeeping mission by insinuating it was a military challenge against Israel.

At the same time, PAS inching their promise to strengthen sharia law through RUU355 further consolidated their support base and even some of Umno’s own fence sitters. Additionally, the recent headscarf row in both hotels and stewardesses, are also infiltrating the Malay voters.

If Liew was serious about somehow winning the Malay vote, these are issues of support among the group of voters he’s trying to cater to – shifting further right religious conservatives. Which is perhaps why Amanah’s women decided to support a ban on “Despacito” on public radio.

Liew once predicted a Malay tsunami which would happen in the next general election. The major problem with his viewpoint is that he believes that the voters from PAS are still in his corner. Either that, or he believes that PPBM and Amanah has managed to retain those votes given in GE13.

Both assumptions are very, very misleading. Therefore, if Liew and Pakatan believes that he can somehow secure 50 percent of the vote without the oldest Malay Opposition party in the country that brought them the crowd in all their gatherings, the rural votes and even stopped them from voting the Budget bill in parliament, then perhaps it is not the analysts who are blindly justifying their points.

Perhaps it is instead, Liew and Pakatan itself.

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3 thoughts on “Letter to the Media – Analysis or propaganda?

  1. I posted this comment to your article on The Malay Mail Online.
    ===============================================================

    Whilst it was intresting to read another prediction of the possible outcome of GE14, however the fact that Liew Chin Tong is a DAP MP made me rather cautious about the independence of his opinions, not that the opinions of other analysts or opinion polling bodies are entirely free from political bias.

    Also in his article in Free Malaysia Today, Liew focuses on issues of demographic dynamics and voting patterns based upon party loyalties amongst voters, especially Malay rural and semi-urban voters and on how three-cornered fights involving PAS would work against UMNO and favour Pakatan.

    http://www.freemalaysiatoday.com/category/opinion/2017/12/15/what-will-decide-the-outcome-of-ge14/

    However Liew does not mention in his article the affects which economic matters such as rising prices and cost of living would influence voting paterns, especially those of rural and semi-rural voters in the mostly Malay heartlands (and neither do you in your letter).

    Most major political changes throughout history, including major revolutions such as the French and Russian revolutions resulted mostly due to economic concerns amongts the populace, rather than political principles, ideology, ethicity or religion.

    What is your reading of the sentiment on the ground, especially the heartlands with regards economic factors?

    On the question of three-cornered fights, there has been no precedent so far which can indicate the role which Pribumi would have on splitting the UMNO vote in a three-cornered fight with UMNO and PAS.

    However, three-cornered fights in the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar byelections between UMNO, PAS and PAN have both shown how UMNO won with a much larger majority over its nearest rival simply due to a split in opposition vote between PAS and PAN.

    We also have the three-cornered fight in the Selangor state seat of Kota Damansara in GE13, where UMNO/BN won the seat with the largest minority of 42.27% versus the incumbent Dr. Nasir (running under a PKR ticket) who got 38.33% and PAS which got 18.86%

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kota_Damansara_(state_constituency)

    In a two-cornered fight in GE12, Dr Nasir won Kota Damansara with 52.38 of the vote versus UMNO/BN which got 47.62%

    GE 14 will see many more three or more cornered fights involving UMNO/BN, Pribumi/Pakatan, PAN/Pakatan and PAS which could result in many parliamentary and state seats being won with the largest minority, rather than the majority of votes in respective constituencies and the outcomes of GE14 will be be interesting. Could we see a hung parliament or state assemblies which would force parties to form coalitions in order to rule, as recently happened in Austria and earlier in the U.K. and Australia?

    In the 2015 UK general elections the Conservatives won around 60% of the seats in parliament with a mere 37% of the popular vote, thanks to the same First Past the Post electoral system which we use in Malaysia.

    Perhaps, we may want to consider adopting a proportional representation based voting system or a two-round system like those used in France and Austria where the two candidates or parties with the most votes in the first round run off one-on-one against each other in the second round which determines the winner. However that will require a constitutional amendment so for now we must make do with our current First Past the Post system.

    What are your views on this?

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    1. I’ll try to answer the best I can.

      First off, there won’t be a hung parliament. If there is one, it’ll be with PAS as kingmaker. That, is a nightmare scenario to avoid at all costs.

      As for three cornered fights, you are correct that this will be to the benefit of Umno rather than the Opposition. In fact, this will be the major scenario in Selangor if PAS truly contests all 58 state seats in Selangor, which they said they would do in 2016.

      As for a different voting system, I’d agree that a two-round system sounds better. However, there is no way the FPTP system will be replaced by any side because neither side wants it.

      The feeling on the ground is grousing over cost of living issues, but it isn’t over the GST or even 1MDB/DOJ/IPIC. This was highlighted by the Merdeka Centre.

      Like

  2. And to add. I was at the Anti-Kleptokrasi rally and apart from Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yasin briefly mentioning that inflation now is the highest so far, most ofthe speakers either took personal potshots at BN people, such as Mahathir’s “Bugis pirate” quip against Najib, whilst the rest like broken records highlighted macro issues such as 1MDB, the U.S. DoJ moves, corruption, etc. which are of concern mostly to relatively comfortably well off, educated, middle class urbanites with the time to go on an on over such issues on social media and over teh tarik sessions, when results of surveys, such as by Rafizi Ramli’s Invoke, show that these macro issues are of a lower priority over ricebowl issues, especially amongst young Malaysians, who are more concerned over matters of employment, high accommodation and home prices and so forth.

    I was not impressed and I don’t think that those who are struggling to make ends meet will be impressed either.

    Liked by 1 person

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