Posted: 05 Jun 2013 07:43 PM PDT
This is the last article in a three-part series analysing the reasons for the opposition bloc's failure to capture Putrajaya.
Free Malaysia Today
ANALYSIS: Pakatan Rakyat would have won more rural seats in the recent general election if DAP had played ball on issues that are dear to the Malays.
Its intransigence with regard to the hudud and "Allah" issues practically ensured that rural voters would vote Umno against the Malay candidates fielded by PAS and PKR.
The two predominantly Malay parties suffered heavy defeats in rural and semi-rural areas, especially in Johor, Malacca, Negeri Sembilan and Pahang. Indeed, their overall performance in Malay-majority areas last May 5 was worse than their 2008 showing if one were to take Kedah, Kelantan and Terengganu out of the reckoning.
Initial analyses of the results by PAS offices in the affected constituencies indicated that rural Malays were generally influenced by the Umno propaganda about DAP calling the shots in Pakatan even in matters of Malay and Muslim interest.
In a statement that was particularly devastating to Pakatan's hope of increasing its Malay support, DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng declared in his 2012 Christmas Day message that his party was against giving Muslims the exclusive right to use "Allah" as the name of God.
Subsequently, PAS leaders Abdul Hadi Awang and Nik Abdul Aziz Mat announced that their party would not oppose the use of "Allah" by non-Muslims although they cautioned against its misuse.
This turned out to be a virtual signal for Umno to begin a relentless campaign through the mainstream media to portray PAS as a tool of the predominantly Chinese party.
To their credit, Hadi and other PAS leaders tried to back their stand by quoting verses from the Quran. But the damage had been done and there was no way that Pakatan could match Umno's media reach among rural folk.
Lim's statement gave the impression—even among Pakatan activists and supporters—that DAP was not bothered about voting support from the Malays and did not care about a possible Muslim backlash.
It is not difficult to see why. DAP's candidates were contesting in Chinese-majority constituencies. Malay votes did not matter to the party.
Lim claims to be chief minister to every race in Penang, but that claim sounds hollow in the light of PAS' failure to make inroads in Malay-majority areas in the state. In fact, Seberang Jaya, which is also within Permatang Pauh, was the only Malay seat that Pakatan added over its 2008 victories.
DAP chairman Karpal Singh must also take some blame with his insistence that PAS should declare that it would not introduce the hudud provisions of Islamic law if Pakatan were to take over Putrajaya. He harped on this even during the official election campaign period.
One could question Karpal's political wisdom in his treatment of the hudud issue in light of its recent loss of traction among non-Muslim Pakatan supporters.
Putting aside Kedah, where the PAS-controlled government failed to establish a good track record, PAS candidates received solid support from Chinese voters, including in those rural constituencies where the community was in the majority.
If hudud really was an issue for the Chinese, they would have rejected all PAS candidates.
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