Out of the 192 seats in Parliament, 144 seats are in the
peninsula. Of the seats in the peninsula,
more than 70% are Malay-majority
and over 20% non-Malay majority.
The rest are considered racially mixed.
As the fractious opposition parties attempt to put up an opposition front, it has been reported that the DAP would contest in non-Malay constituencies.
PAS, which has declared it wants to
capture Perlis, Terengganu, Kedah and
Pahang, will focus on the Malay seats
while Keadilan will contest in racially
In the tussle for the Malay votes, the
issues are simply narrowed down to
justice for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the right to dissent and the principle of accountability.
The voters will choose the Barisan for continued economic development and
political stability for the
In the predominantly Chinese areas, the DAP is banking on issues relating to the jailing of former Kota Melaka MP Lim Guan Eng.
It is uncertain to what degree the Anwar
issue will be translated into votes
among the Chinese voters but they are
certainly less passionate than their
Another factor is how the opposition
front will take shape and what their
manifesto and programmes will be.
It will not hurt the DAP to work with
Keadilan which is a lot more appealing
to Chinese voters than PAS.
Keadilan president Datin Seri Dr Wan
Azizah Wan Ismail has been a crowd
puller at DAP ceramahs and certainly
issues like justice transcend race and religion.
Dr Chandra Muzaffar, the Keadilan deputy president, also enjoys a following among the middle-class in urban areas.
The only obstacle for Keadilan and DAP
will be to convince the Chinese voters
that reformasi is not about violent
Not many are likely to be convinced that Keadilan is not involved in the
Keadilan's greatest mistake would be to
encourage its supporters to take to the streets with its continuous emphasis that peaceful assembly is fine.
Even the best organised gatherings with the best intentions can turn ugly if mob behaviour takes over.
And in multi-racial Malaysia, the
situation is more explosive. It is not
simply a question of the right to
Opposition leaders cannot just
dissociate themselves from their
supporters when such demonstrations turn ugly.
To win over the Chinese votes, Keadilan
needs to go further. How different is it from Umno with a similar affirmative action programme a point which the DAP had consistently challenged in its Malaysian Malaysia programme?
If Keadilan can provide convincing answers to the community, it would have scored substantial gains even before the first vote is cast.
Still, it would be politically suicidal if Chinese-based Barisan component parties like the MCA and Gerakan were to dismiss the Keadilan-DAP tie-up.
There are many unknown probables in Malaysian politics these days. Many of the MPs from the two parties are also incumbents in the mixed constituencies where the combination of Malay, Chinese and Indian votes are almost equal.
No one is sure how the Malays, outside
the federal capital, will cast their
votes. After all, the scenario in the
coming general election is entirely
In the quest for the Chinese votes, the
biggest hurdle for Keadilan is its cooperation with PAS, which has openly stated its objective of
setting up an Islamic state.
Dr Wan Azizah has so far not stated her
stand on the Islamic state but it will
be a question which she will eventually
have to answer.
The DAP has repeatedly said it does not
want an Islamic state but by appearing
at PAS ceramahs, it has taken a
But the biggest obstacle for the DAP to
win Chinese votes is the stature of
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Mahathir
Mohamad among the Chinese voters.
To the community, Dr Mahathir represents
stability. His announcement on Thursday that Malaysia is expected to record a stronger gross domestic product (GDP) growth of 5% next year, barring any major economic catastrophe, pushed the KLSE index up the next day.
And if the community hears a People's
Budget in October, it will make the job
of the opposition much harder.
Dr Mahathir's liberal stance in business
and education has been well appreciated
by the community.
For the MCA and Gerakan, their job would
be to remind the community of the reality of the numbers game.
They are almost sure to tell the
community that they should not do
what the Kadazandusuns had done
in the recent Sabah state election.
In the state polls, the community voted
their leaders out of the state
The result was the community lost their
chief minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok
and representation in government.
With most of the 48 parliamentary seats in Sabah and Sarawak likely to be
retained by the Barisan, the fight will
be in the peninsula for the remaining
PAS is not only convinced it can deny
the Barisan its two-thirds majority but believes it is capable of forming the next federal government by
winning more than 96 seats.
To do that, PAS will have to convince all communities that it is a relevant party in multi-ethnic and multi-religious Malaysia.