By : LISA J. ARIFFIN
PETALING JAYA: In the run up to the 13th general election, several parliamentary seats in Sabah were reportedly under severe threat from opposition Pakatan Rakyat.
In fact it was widely speculated that the outcome of these seats would be the 'clincher' for Pakatan’s Putrajaya aspirations.
But eventually that did not happen, noted political analysts who spoke at a forum here last night.
Despite the opposition’s “Ini Kali Lah” wave which was widely spported by the Kadazandusun Murut and Chinese areas, they failed to loosen Barisan Nasional’s grip on Sabah.
BN had secured 48 of the 60 state and 22 of 25 parliamentary seats as opposed to Pakatan’s three parliamentary and 10 state seats.
Pakatan’s failure to threaten BN’s hold on Sabah came as a surprise to two political analysts, who had expected the opposition to capture “at least 15″ parliamentary seats in East Malaysia.
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) political science lecturer Arnold Puyok said there was a “political tsunami in Sabah”, but it “wasn’t strong enough to cause significant change”.
“The opposition was making inroads. There were a lot of unhappiness in the Kadazandusun and Chinese areas,” he said during a forum organised by Merdeka Centre here.
“With the rise of STAR (Sabah State Reform Party) and “Ini Kali Lah”, a lot of Sabahans thought it was time for change,” he added.
Swing in Malay popular votes
Arnold also noted that in Malay-Muslim majority areas in the state, support for Umno-BN had increased significantly in GE13.
“The BN-Umno vote bank remains strong in rural Muslim-Bumiputera areas. There is strong dominance by Umno,” he said.
He then pointed out that BN was instead losing support in Kadazandusun and Chinese areas.
“In Kadazandusun and Chinese areas, the opposition have been making significant inroads.
“There is a strong anti-BN and Umno sentiment in these areas, but this does not necessarily translate to a ‘Chinese Tsunami’,” he added.
Arnold’s colleague Faizal Syam Hazis, whilst sharing his sentiments on predictions that Pakatan would do well in Sabah, however felt that BN had lost a “a significant” percentage of Malay popular votes to the opposition.
“There were speculations and predictions that Pakatan could have pushed their nine (parliamentary) seats (in East Malaysia) to at least 15, but it didn’t happen.”
“However, Pakatan performed better in 2013 as compared to their one (parliamentary) seat in 2008 (during GE12),” he added.
Faizal also disclosed that despite BN’s overall win, statistics showed the ruling coalition had lost to Pakatan on popular vote which cut “across the board” and included “even the Malays”.
“This is a wakeup call for Umno-BN. The majority are pushing for change, which includes an end to race based politics, the eradication of corruption and cronyism and expanding democratic space.”