The dominos in Johor

Johor is the last bastion of Barisan Nasional but the coming general election may prove that the fortress may turn out to be merely a sand castle. If Pakatan Rakyat gets the support of 35 percent Malay, 80 percent Chinese and 50 percent Indian voters in Johor, 20 parliamentary seats will fall like dominoes. Hence, Pakatan may gain the much-needed 112-seat threshold to form the next federal government with just seats from Peninsula Malaysia.

In the two rounds of seat re-delineation exercises in 1994 and 2003, many multiethnic mixed seats were created for Barisan Nasional to maximise its multiethnic appeal and to make the most out of the opposition’s inability to win across ethnic boundaries.

PAS was made to be seen by the Barisan-controlled media to non-Malays as an anathema to their interests while DAP as a threat to the Malays. Before 2008, PAS supporters rarely vote for DAP and vice versa.

The 2008 general election saw PAS benefiting from outpouring Chinese and Indian support for the “anything but UMNO” call while some urban Malays voted for DAP for the first time in their lives. Many multiethnic seats in the states north of Negeri Sembilan on the west coast of the Peninsula fell to the opposition.

How Pakatan can actually win Johor

Sabah and Johor are the two most crucial battlefields in the 2013 election. While Sabah attracts substantial attention, it could be hampered by seat negotiation and cooperation among various opposition groups. Johor is where Barisan Nasional may fall like dominoes.

Of Johor’s 26 parliamentary seats, only 8 have more than 60 percent Malay votes which are harder to win with the current level of support for Pakatan Rakyat. No seat in Johor has more than 60 percent Chinese voters.

On the one hand, without 25 percent Malay support, even if non-Malay swing to Pakatan Rakyat is huge, the entire momentum may just fizzle out with a very few seats gained. Pakatan Rakyat received only about 20 percent Malay support in Johor during the 2008 general election.

On the other hand, if 35 percent Malay voters support Pakatan in this election, anything could happen. While it is tough to get 35 percent Malay support, it is never impossible.

I was informed that a recent opinion poll shows that Malay support for Pakatan in Johor has exceeded 30 percent though the support varies among parties – PAS’ support is much higher than average while DAP’s Malay support is lower than average.

The poll also shows that support from the Chinese for Pakatan is around 70 percent though varies among parties with DAP exceeding the average while PAS lower than average. The poll shows the support from among Indians is at about 50 percent.

Working together is key to victory

As the election approaches, I believe the gaps will narrow if PAS and DAP, with the help of PKR, manage to convince supporters to vote for each other in the context of coalition.

From purely mathematic simulations, here are the possible scenarios in Johor (assuming Indian support for Pakatan is constant): ~

  • Malay support at 25%, Chinese support at 65%, Pakatan will win just 1 parliamentary seat in Johor;
  • Malay support at 30%, Chinese support at 70%, Pakatan will win 6 seats;
  • Malay support at 30%, Chinese support at 75%, Pakatan will win 12 seats;
  • Malay support at 35%, Chinese support at 75%, Pakatan will win 16 seats;
  • Malay support at 35%, Chinese support at 80%, Pakatan will win 20 seats.

Of course these are just simulations on paper. But it shows that Barisan Nasional’s castle may crumble if a perfect storm comes into shape. It is also a fresh tsunami alert from the people of Johor to the government who refuses to reform.

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