Sunday, May 24, 2015

No government in the world has 100% support

Salleh Said Keruak

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin raised a very interesting point today when he said that Umno is suffering from a ‘trust deficit’. That is actually a problem all political parties the world over are suffering from.

Even back in 1955, two years before Merdeka, Umno had to contest the elections as the Alliance Party, a coalition with MCA and MIC, to be able to gain enough seats to form the government. In that election the Alliance won 51 of the 52 seats contested, probably a world record by any standards.

However, while the Alliance Party won almost 100% of the seats it did so on slightly less than 80% of the popular votes. Just two years after Merdeka, in 1959, the Alliance Party won just 51% of the popular votes and in the ‘historic’ 1969 general election just 49% of the votes.

Then Barisan Nasional was formed to replace the Alliance Party and, over a period of 30 years up to 2004, it won between 53-64% of the popular votes. When the economy happened to be good and people have more money in their pockets the votes are higher but when the world is facing a global recession and times are hard it is lower.

That is the first thing you learn if you want to become a politician and if you aspire to hold public office. Ideals are not important to most voters, especially if you have no money, because ideals cannot put food on the table.

Another thing you need to learn if you want to run a country is that you cannot swim against the current. If the global economy takes a beating then your country also suffers, especially if you are a country like Malaysia that depends on the west and the United States for trade and investments.

We in Umno must not take this personal. In today’s environment, if any government can win even just 45% of the popular votes that is already quite remarkable. No doubt the worse ever was in 2013 when Barisan Nasional won just 47% of the votes. However, it still won 60% of seats compared to the UK where the government was formed with only 51% of the seats.

Even the 2004 general election, which is considered ‘ the best ever’, was won on less than two-thirds of the popular votes. And that has absolutely nothing to do with a ‘trust deficit’ but is more about the trend today all over the world. Umno has to be realistic and face up to this reality and not live in denial.

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