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PKR and DAP: Submission and marginalisation

  • Weirdly, throughout this whole thing, PKR and DAP have remained largely hushed and submissive.

By TAY TIAN YAN
Sin Chew Daily

Lowering voting age to 18 and automatic voter registration have become reality thanks to the cooperation from opposite sits of the political divide.

As Umno and PAS are set to be the biggest beneficiaries as many would like to believe, why then should PH work so hard to make this a reality?

I want to ask: is this whole thing a Mahathir policy or that of the PH coalition?

Before pondering about the answer, let's first take a look at two very intriguing scenes in the Dewan Rakyat not too long ago.

Firstly, youth and sports minister Syed Saddiq and former prime minister Najib Tun Razak sat on the sofa at the Parliament lobby and talked in front of everyone else.

Anyone who has been to the Parliament will know that the Parliament lobby is the place where reporters get the news they want.

That these two rival politicians were sitting together on the sofa at the same time couldn't have been just mere coincidence, but rather intentionally designed to draw media attention.

Everyone knows that Syed Saddiq is PM Mahathir's blue-eyed baby. The old man may not listen to what the rest of the world may say, but a soft whisper coming out from Syed Saddiq's mouth definitely gets the message across.

A few days later, Mahathir held an unprecedented joint press conference in the Parliament with Umno, PAS and PBB reps to announce their consensus over voting age of 18 and automatic voter registration.

A reporter at the Parliament told me when the Opposition Leader, Umno vice chief Ismail Sabri Yaakob was speaking to the press, the prime minister was seen nodding in agreement, smiling.

Ismail Sabri is the right hand man of Najib / Ahmad Zahid, and his relationship with the prime minister is anything but harmonious.

The thing is: the call for a grand unity among the Malays, voting age of 18 and automatic voter registration have brought PPBM, Umno and PAS much closer now.

With lower voting age and automatic voter registration both going into effect, the country's electoral roll will be expanded from 14.9 million by a whopping 7.8 million to 22.7 million by the next general elections, a drastic over 50% jump.

Being the largest ethnic group in the country with the highest birth rate and lowest voter registration rates in the past, the Malays will see their voting powers multiplied if the rules of the game are overhauled.

The new ruling will make the already mainstream Malay electorate the overwhelmingly dominant force, while non-Malay electorate will be sidelined.

The country's race politics will not die. With the different ethnic communities increasingly drawn towards vernacular politics, PPBM, Umno and PAS will race to seize the support of these new Malay voters.

Sure enough we still can't tell now which among these three parties will be the biggest beneficiary, but judging from grassroots power and partisan ideologies, PAS and Umno seem to have the upper hand. Being a component of the ruling coalition, PPBM nevertheless has the resources to join in the war.

If these three parties (probably plus PBB in Sarawak) cooperate or form an alliance in the future in the name of Malay unity, the new entity will basically seize the majority of votes to stay in power.

Multiracial PKR and Chinese-dominant DAP will be significantly weakened under the new rules of the game.

Weirdly, throughout this whole thing, PKR and DAP have remained largely hushed and submissive.

Sure enough voting age of 18 is one of PH's election pledges and there is no good reason for any component party to oppose it,. But, automatic voter registration has been an additional condition proposed by Umno and PAS, and PKR and DAP have unconditionally accepted.

From here we can see that under the iron-fisted rule of Tun Mahathir, PKR and DAP have become fully obedient and submissive.

And such attitude has somewhat sealed the destiny of future marginalisation of these two parties.

 

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