“Mahathir knew that by taking a stab at Zakir, he appealed to a sizeable number of 18 to 35-year-old Muslims who’re very much against race-based politics. That number is likely to have made up for the erosion in support from the older generation that’s probably pissed he criticised Zakir. But he’s not overly concerned about the older generation as he already scored big with this segment by branding Dong Zong racist”
Raggie Jessy Rithaudeen
For the past three days or so, several Muslim groups aligned with Gerakan Bangsa Nasional have been urging me to comment on the Zakir Naik controversy. They feel that my remarks thus far have been overly guarded and that I should do something to clear the air. It is for this reason, above all, that I decided to write another one of my no holds barred pieces that don’t always bring good news. Rest assured, this article isn’t meant to appease any single group and is best taken with a pinch of salt. Read only if you’re willing to set aside your emotions and think objectively or seek alternatives if you find that you’re prejudiced towards me.
That having been said, let us dive into some interesting facts regarding Dr Zakir Naik, Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim and begin by asking the million dollar question that’s probably on everyone’s mind.
What’s going on?
Zakir, who the DAP refers to as “fugitive televangelist,” just so happened to say something that pissed Mahathir off. Contrary to what many believe, Mahathir was genuinely pissed that Zakir made passing references to Malaysian Indians when comparing their wellbeing to that of Muslims in India. It wasn’t preconceived or part of a grand scheme to rally the Malays behind PH or PPBM.
But the fact that it did happen presented the DAP with opportunity to leverage on the issue. Several party leaders demanded that Zakir be sent back to India for posing a threat to national security. That triggered a perfect storm as it jibbed well with the “televangelist” and “terrorist” stigma they cast upon the preacher. If your contention is that the attacks will cost the DAP votes from the Muslim base, you may be in for a huge disappointment.
What? You mean to say the DAP may gain Muslim support?
First of all, realise that a small but significant number of Muslims are non-Malay Bumiputras. Secondly, don’t be so naieve as to think that all this has eroded the DAP’s Malay support base. It’s about time you woke up to the reality that people who post comments online account for less than one per cent of the reading population. The majority in this population prefers not to comment and simply reads what is presented before sharing and (or) liking it. This segment is interested in factual analyses and places more emphasis on deductive reasoning and logical thinking.
It follows, if you’re hinging your arguments purely on sentiments online, you’re probably as naïve as you are emotional and (or) irrational. If the cap fits, you’ll relate to how you yourself sometimes post comments out of sheer anger and (or) disgust. Fact is, people who’re emotional tend to think less and comment a lot faster than those who’re composed and rational. If the comment section is flooded with emotion, those who’re composed tend to refrain from commenting and will probably give the section a miss.
It’s simple logic.
What about by-elections?
What about them?
I remember telling you in a previous article how by-election results can be deceiving. People have grown wiser these days and are now using these elections as platforms to vent frustrations. They know that a by-election will not change the status quo at federal level and can be a potent tool to “teach an MP or an ADUN a lesson.” For instance, if the majority in an area supports the DAP but is pissed that its previous candidate did not perform well, they will hurt the party during a by-election by making its new candidate lose. But when it comes to a general election, you will find them giving full support to any candidate the party may field.
Like in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar?
Months ahead of the 14th general election, everyone assumed that the swing in Chinese support towards the MCA in these constituencies was a sign that the community was willing to return to Barisan Nasional. But when the general election came, almost every Chinaman voted for the DAP or any party that was seen aligned to it. That was a sign that people had begun using by-elections as platforms to vent frustrations against those they cared for the most. Rest assured, this isn’t always the case and is very much dependent on which territory you’re referring to.
Like in Sandakan?
In Borneo, people tend to reject race-based politics and will support anyone who seems inclined towards autonomy. The fact that BN is with PAS put many a Sabahan and Sarawakian off as the majority in Borneo regards PAS to be fundamentalist and fanatical. As a result, if you’re with BN or are seen leaning towards the coalition in any way, you’d be branded a “PAS supporter” and will likely be rejected by a sizeable number of voters. During the Sandakan by-election, PBS’ Linda Tsen Thau was seen to be BN friendly and was rejected by a significant number of Muslim Bumiputras (see analysis via link below). Yes, even the Muslim-Bumiputras in Borneo couldn’t give a hoot about race based politics.
And don’t give me that story about how the DAP threw truckloads of dollars to buy off voters. If indeed the Muslims in Borneo were pissed with the DAP for treating Malays in the peninsula badly, we would have seen an erosion in Muslim support during the by-election no matter how much money the party threw. But that wasn’t the case. People in Borneo simply do not give a damn what goes on in the peninsula and are more concerned with what you have to offer them. If you were to stand on the podium and declare that your mission is to fight for succession, even the Orang Utans may turn up at the polling centres to try and vote you in.
Will the DAP’s Muslim base grow?
The problem with BN is that it no longer has its finger on the pulse of the nation. Its leaders unanimously agreed to lower the voting age from 21 to 18 and more or less signed their ‘death’ certificates. Like it or not, the 18 to 35-year-old segment is far more liberalised than any of us can imagine. This segment will account for almost 32 per cent of the Muslim voter base and close to 50 per cent of those who will cast ballots during the 15th general election. The majority in this segment is completely sympathetic towards the LGBT community and will not approve of any party that openly censures the community.
And that’s just one of many examples.
Point is, you can bet your last dollar that the bulk in this segment couldn’t care less what Zakir did or did not do or if the Government of Malaysia (GoM) decides to strap him to a rocket and send him off to the moon. What they’re more concerned with is the GoM’s willingness to ride with times and steer away from race based politics. It follows, if the DAP wants Zakir deported on the pretext that he annoys Indians, you might be surprised to learn how this appeals to some Muslims from the youth segment.
You gotta be joking.
I never joke when it comes to these things.
And what about Mahathir?
Mahathir knew that by taking a stab at Zakir, he appealed to a sizeable number of 18 to 35-year-old Muslims who’re very much against race-based politics. That number is likely to have made up for the erosion in support from the older generation that’s probably pissed he criticised Zakir. But he’s not overly concerned about the older generation as he already scored big with this segment by branding Dong Zong racist.
You mean it’s already a win for Mahathir?
And the biggest loser is Dato’ Seri Anwar Ibrahim. In a recent article, I pointed out how PKR already made a stand on Zakir owing to Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah’s silence on the controversy (follow link below). Being Mahathir’s deputy, her silence amounted to a tacit approval on her part that Zakir needed to be put in his place. The article cornered Anwar in many ways and forced him to state his own objection towards Zakir’s method of preaching. That effectively shifted the spotlight back onto Mahathir who now has the luxury of deciding what to do next.
What will Mahathir do next?
Has he not made it clear over and over again that deporting Zakir is not an option? Would repeating this not turn him into a ‘saviour’ and Anwar the man many a Malay-Muslim would want to keep a ten-foot pole distance from? Can you now see how stupid Anwar is for not having seen from the beginning how all this is set to destroy him?
To be continued…