Malaysia by-elections on 18 June (update 5): Post by-elections changes - Cabinet reshuffle, Lim Guan Eng charged, Dr M reminds on hajj bribes

30 June 2016: Post by-elections changes - Cabinet reshuffle, Lim Guan Eng charged, Dr M reminds on hajj bribes

Cabinet reshuffled with eye on coming polls, analysts say BY KAMLES KUMAR June 28, 2016 -- ..... “It is clear that Najib is gunning to regain Selangor in the next election,” Ibrahim said. Yesterday's reshuffle came after Umno sacked Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir who had been openly attacking the prime minister over 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and related issues. Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal was also suspended from the party and Umno leaders from his Semporna division yesterday quit en masse in protest. With the three leaders as well as former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad no longer in Umno, Najib's position as party president — and, by extension, prime minister — is now virtually unassailable from within............Sarawak overwhelmingly returned BN to power during a state election in May, and is considered a key state for keeping the coalition in Putrajaya. “It is quite surprising to note that no Sarawakian minister was appointed even to replace Douglas,” Ibrahim added..... Najib was banking on Mah and Gerakan to help foment the return of the Chinese vote to BN, after the community that abandoned the coalition in Election 2013 began showing signs of reconsidering its previous hostility. “When Mah was given a full ministership, it was Najib trying to help restore Gerakan's influence. He is trying to shore up the Chinese votes ahead of the GE,” Khoo explained. - See more at:

Lim Guan Eng pleads not guilty on two corruption charges Astro Awani |  Published on June 30, 2016 -- Lim was charged under Section 23 of the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Act 2009 for 'Offence of using office or position for gratification'. If convicted, he could be jailed a maximum 20 years and fined an amount of no less than five times the bribe, or RM10,000, whichever is higher. Azmi granted Lim bail of RM1 million in one surety on the two corruption charges. He also allowed the DAP secretary-general to hold on to his passport, under the condition that if Lim wanted to travel overseas, he needed to inform the court and the Attorney-General two days before departure. The court then set Sept 22 for case management. Meanwhile, businesswoman Phang Li Khoon also claimed trial to the charge of abetting Lim in the purchases of a plot of land and the bungalow on Jalan Pinhorn..... 

Dr M: Using bribes to go for hajj doesn’t make it okay to be corrupt June 27, 2016 -- ..... “The truth is that money that is stolen or received as bribes remains haram. Charity or worship performed does not make haram money halal,” he wrote. “Many who are prepared to receive money to perform the hajj and umrah do not ask where the money comes from. We are not forced by the religion to perform the hajj if we cannot afford it. We are not forced to steal and rob and commit corruption in order to perform the hajj.” He said those who sought to make corruption acceptable were doing so with political motives, such as to hide their abuse of power and oppression of the people. - See more at:

27 June 2016: Rafizi concern on voters motivated by racial/religious and goodies, a review of by-elections, "duit raya" for Felda settlers excludes 13,589 not selling oil palm fruit its mills

Calling a spade a spade, Rafizi responds to critics by Rafizi Ramli     Published 23 Jun 2016,  MP SPEAKS I am aware that my initial response to the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections results have been reported as me blaming the voters for BN's win.....My conclusion was the racial/religious sentiments as well as the goodies and cash handouts splurged during the campaigning were the two most important factors. I reiterated my view previously that unless and until voters (and our society) can move beyond these two tools deployed by the BN, it is unlikely there will ever be a change.... One minister called me a dictator, the other one said that I was the disease, and another one said I never fought for rakyat. While it is understandable that Umno behaves this way, I find it ridiculous that other non-traditional media (often considered more independent) also behaved the same way....No one in fact had disputed with facts and evidence (the scholarly way and objectively) that my diagnosis of the root causes was wrong.... What I was frustrated was the tendency of the public, civil society leaders, analysts and commentators not to call a spade a spade. Even worse, while the lack of unified opposition forces was a key issue that needs to be addressed, the simplicity of the thinking that puts all the blame on the opposition bickering to the point of ignoring the flagrant abuse of money/rewards; the race/religion sentiments and a plethora of other electoral abuses by the BN is counter productive. It is ironic that while the public seems to appreciate the extent of corruption in the country, it seems oblivious to the massive corruption in the form of electoral bribery practised by BN that I get the feeling as if the public expects Harapan to win in spite of this electoral bribery. Instead of focusing on the immorality of using taxpayers money to win votes by bribing the voters with a list of promised projects, many analysts and some civil society leaders seem to consider this (electoral bribery through promised projects) as a matter of campaign strategy i.e local issue versus national issue.....The percentage of Malay support for Umno is status quo with no substantial increase (59 percent in Kuala Kangsar and 60 percent in Sungai Besar)....There was a notable increase of support for Harapan in both Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar among Malay middle class and young voters... Considering these seats are semi-rural, the swing can be expected to be higher in semi urban/urban seats..... PAS bagged circa 26.6 percent Malay support for Kuala Kangsar and 30.6 percent in Sungai Besar at the time when their campaign massively benefited from Umno/BN.....(PAS) they are definitely retreating and sliding towards the pre-2008 position....The Chinese voters’ turnout was lower by 21 to 28 percent. However even if we take into account a normalised turnout, we still see a swing of five to seven percent to Umno/BN though I think this is very much localised because of the promises and goodies given by BN.... Therefore, while the defeat was a wake-up call to concentrate on one-to-one contest with PAS, it is also a confirmation that it was not a rout nor has the public abandoned Harapan. If Chinese turnout normalises during the general election plus early preparations and good machinery, as well as BN having less firepower (cash, goodies, projects) during a general election – my guess is we may still make a strongshowing..... 

How can the opposition create another Ijok? by Ong Kian Ming     Published Today 8:59 am

Najib announces ‘duit raya’ of RM49.52m for Felda settlers Bernama      22 Jun 2016

PAS cries foul as over 13,000 Felda settlers denied 'duit raya' 23 Jun 2016 -- PAS has criticised the government for denying Hari Raya incentives to 13,589 Felda settlers. This was after Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak yesterday announced RM49.52 million "duit raya" to 99,046 Felda settlers. The remaining settlers did not qualify for the payout as they sell their produce to third parties instead of Felda. PAS Felda affairs chief Naraza Muda said the government should not be punishing Felda settlers who choose to be independent....

Malaysia Paddy Fields Are Najib’s Battlefield to Woo Voters by Shamim Adam June 20, 2016

Meeting K Kangsar folk’s needs is Mastura’s priority Bernama     23 Jun 2016 -- The mother of four is the widow of the previous Kuala Kangsar MP, Wan Mohammad Khair-il Annuar Wan Ahmad who died in a helicopter crash with five others in Sebuyau, Sarawak on May 5. Mastura has a list of things on her agenda, including visiting the site for the building of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board’s (MPOB) training centre, which had been promised by her late husband who was the MPOB chairperson. On her status of still being in the ‘edah’ period, Mastura said she had asked for views and guidelines from Perak mufti Harussani Zakaria in carrying out her tasks. “According to the mufti, If I am required to serve (the people), I am allowed to go out but certain things like celebrating the win is not permitted,” she said....

20 June 2016: About the extraordinary regime resilience in Malaysia (and Singapore)

Editor's note: Blending some comments by Prof Weiss, "A key part of what sustains electoral authoritarianism over the long term is genuine popular support.... While disproportional access to electoral resources and curbs on civil and political rights clearly matter to the persistence of electoral-authoritarian regimes, long-term acculturation to political
norms and modes of governance on the ground further complicate these
regimes’ transformation. Singapore and Malaysia, the world’s most
durable examples of electoral authoritarianism, exemplify this pattern."

Going to the Ground (or Astroturf): A Grassroots View of Regime Resilience by Meredith L. Weissa.
Abstract: While disproportional access to electoral resources and curbs on civil
and political rights clearly matter to the persistence of electoral-authoritarian regimes, long-term acculturation to political norms and modes of governance on the ground further complicate these regimes’ transformation. Singapore and Malaysia, the world’s most durable examples of electoral authoritarianism, exemplify this pattern. A combination of what amounts to classic machine politics with the structural “assist” of sub-par elections renders electoral
authoritarianism increasingly resilient over time, not just because it is hard or unlikely for voters to vote in new leaders, but also because the aspiring or elected opposition may end up reproducing rather than subverting key attributes of that regime. Clientelist political praxis may be highly responsive, offer direct accountability, and align with voters’ rational self-interest, at least in the short term. However, its persistence impedes pursuit of new ideological or programmatic objectives, perpetuates piecemeal and inefficient allocation of
resources, assumes that most voters should expect little from state policies, and discourages attention to proactive legislation, in favor of more localized, reactive politics. A machine-oriented political regime, then, is not only exceptionally hard to shake, but suboptimal in the long term.

Payoffs, Parties, or Policies: “Money Politics” and Electoral Authoritarian Resilience by Meredith L. Weissa* ABSTRACT. A key part of what sustains electoral authoritarianism over the long term is genuine popular support. Dominant parties, particularly in a developmental context (the primary setting for such regimes), and especially where elections are more than minimally meaningful, curry performance legitimacy and loyalty not just through skewed rules and coercion, but through material incentives: “money politics.” If challengers can find a way to de-emphasize support based on material inducements, they stand a chance of securing gains via elections, rather than relying on economic downturns to shrink patronage coffers. Drawing on extensive original ethnographic and survey data from electoral-authoritarian Malaysia, I explore campaign finance and distributions on both sides in the latest, most regime-threatening general election, which was held on May 5, 2013. Evidence suggests that it was by disentangling clientelist networks from the patronage they so often serve to disseminate, allowing a focus on more programmatic than particularistic appeals, that the opposition Pakatan Rakyat alliance so nearly bested the long-dominant Barisan Nasional regime. Persona – being known and seen among the electorate – still matters as much as before, but relies less consistently than in the past on targeted patronage as a premise for loyalty.

20 June 2016: Post mortem of significant BN gains in by-elections, trumping 1MDB and other worries, BN comments dwell on Mahathir failed slander of Najib

Source:, accessed 20 June 2016
Note: Turnout was around 70%


Analisa Awal Pilihanraya Kecil Kuala Kangsar dan Sungai Besar June 19, 2016 bujangsenang -- 
Estimates that BN gained 54-58% of Malay votes and 46-50% of Chinese votes and youth vote for BN was about 50%. Note: this is regarded as UMNO Youth source. Will check on others too.

Editor's notes: 
  • I was talking to a professor of politics who said that the "nusantaran / archipelago" attitude may allow things that continental (Muslim) countries may not allow. What do Malaysia voters care for and what drives their big vote swings? 
  • First, a quick look at the ethnic Chinese vote - a swing in the by-elections came on unexpectedly strong. Some say that Chinese voters may not stand much on principle but practicality (a swing the the opposition may be a big protest vote and the opposition's report card has been seen wanting, post 2013). Its important to note the recent major vote swings in this neigbourhood. Singapore's last GE saw an extraordinary 10%-age national vote swing, in its anniversary year and after the death of its founding patriarch and a reportedly extraordinary effort to appease voters disgruntled by population change. The Malaysia ethnic Chinese vote has also swung, by-elections swing reported at over 15%-age and of course in national GEs (the opposing swings of the Malay-Chinese votes after the Asian Financial Crisis and Anwar Ibrahim ouster and after 2008). These big swings appear to be more abnormal in the Western context? 
  • Certainly the big gain for BN in Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar means that Chinese voters in these by-elections had a change of heart on the opposition (greatly fractured and lacking leadership). Some comments from social media relating to the ethnic Chinese voter include: "The Chinese are pragmatic people. Western people are more idealistic." "The Opposition has no one to blame but themselves. They let the country down. Honestly I am quite disgusted." "I think the oppositions need to get the house in order and get PAS out of the way once and for all. Then perhaps they will see better result. Now it is beginning to look no different to BN."  
  • I'll turn to Malay voter-think and trend in a forthcoming posting - but a quick note that the Amanah share of the ethnic Malay vote was not seen as strong, and some put it down to being a new party, yet to develop a strong voice and message.  
  • Looking ahead, there's speculation of whether the GE may come in May 2017 to coincide with 60th anniversary of Merdeka and 71st founding of UMNO? In the business news, there's talk of a 1%-age drop in the GST rate, since oil prices are doing better. Also, lots of news on Bandar Malaysia and high-speed rail and strong investment and links with China; clearly to get into these sector businesses, linkages via BN cannot but help. Reform is unlikely as BN can remain in power.

The economy will determine if BN wins in GE14 FMT Reporters | May 26, 2016
A Bloomberg report says the real threat to the BN is how the economy fares, not the fallout from the 1MDB scandal or the Opposition; .... Although Najib has denied wrongdoing in connection with the 1MDB scandal, and although Umno divisional chiefs have publicly backed him, some Umno members feel uneasy.
“The continued support for the current leadership is there and it’s strong — there’s no doubt about that,” said Suhaimi Ibrahim, an Umno Lipis division committee member. “I must admit that it is not 100 per cent as some members are unhappy about some things.” While Suhaimi didn’t elaborate, some party officials alluded to undercurrents in Umno over eroded trust in Najib, asking not to be identified given the risk of repercussions, the report said. “Umno is still united, but not like before, and to some extent it has lost its fire,” the report quoted an unnamed official at Umno’s Kuala Lumpur headquarters as saying. “Great damage has been done.”... “Umno has a feudal political culture that may keep the party behind Najib even as the scandals make his leadership appear ‘untenable’,” said Universiti Sains Malaysia political science professor Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid. The party structure also limits any push for real change, he said. “Umno politics is the politics of patronage, and as long as they have connections with levers of power, they will not reform,” he said. “Najib’s government is a weak government — in parliament or by popular vote — and they still haven’t reformed. They don’t have to because they can remain in power.”.....

About the ethnic votes

Malaysia Paddy Fields Become Battlefield for Najib to Woo Voters by Shamim Adam June 20, 2016 — 6:00 AM SGT; Standing near paddy fields that stretched to the horizon, Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak had one message for voters of the rural district of Sungai Besar: My government will take care of you. Fairuzita Mohamad Amir, who was in the crowd Najib addressed earlier this month in the state of Selangor, voted on Saturday in a by-election that saw his United Malays National Organisation crush the competition. The 51-year-old widow grows rice on 2.5 acres of land with the help of subsidies plus access to fertilizers and pesticides, for which she credits UMNO. "I learned to say UMNO along with my ABCs," Fairuzita said. "Over the years, they have helped me a lot. I need their support and they have mine."... Malaysian farmers have been hit by falling commodity prices, rising living costs and a stock investment that hasn’t always delivered what was promised. Najib has responded by pledging bigger subsidies for rubber planters and rice farmers in the 2016 budget. He announced monetary handouts this month for rubber farmers totaling 194 million ringgit ($47.5 million).... "Farmers and fishermen are from the mainstream Malay heartlands and those heartlands are key to Barisan Nasional regardless of any issue, whether it’s about GST or 1MDB," said Ahmad Martadha Mohamed, dean of the college of law, government and international studies at Universiti Utara Malaysia. "If the prime minister continues to provide support to these groups, they will continue to support him in the future."... "No one thinks about the Malays except UMNO, we must remember that," Felda Global chairman Mohd Isa Abdul Samad said last month. "Our successes are not because of our own cleverness. Many Malays forget. It’s all because of UMNO."...

Wong Chen Yesterday at 9:13am · Well, somewhat disappointing and humbling results last night in Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar. My office math guy has started analysing the numbers. For proper perspective, turnout was below GE13 by some 10% to 15% and these two seats were won by UMNO during GE13. So a 3 corner fight would in fact guarantee BN victory. The results were therefore a given.... What really mattered for analysis was support level of Amanah, the new party. Conclusion is they did OK and their numbers can improve as it's political branding grows. PKR went through similar teething experiences, when we were written off as a tiny party in our early days. So, I think it is just simply a matter of time for Amanah to grow. The paradox is, emotions are high and many voters feel that we don't have much time. Amanah trouncing PAS in Sungai Besar and putting up a credible showing in Kuala Kangsar were good results, in the circumstances..... Without doubt PAS was the biggest loser. But does numbers and math matter to Hadi? This is a radical leader that we cannot apply game theory on. His political decisions are not necessarily logical despite his more reasonable deputy Tuan Man..... The really unexpected story was Chinese voter swing. This is incomprehensible in the backdrop of 1MDB, hudud and GST issues. Even after factoring shrewd pro development vote, the swing was too significant. So the lesson is Chinese votes cannot be taken for granted. There is obviously a dip in support for the Opposition. Chinese voters are generally results oriented. They vote based on administrative capabilities. It has to be earned. Therefore, the lesson is our state administrations must earn these votes. We must govern with efficiency, be fair to all races and always be free of corruption....

20-Jun-16 Current Affairs (08:35 AM) Sungai Besar & Kuala Kangsar: Twin Wins Takeaway - Ibrahim Suffian, Director, Merdeka Center -- Barisan Nasional saw landslide wins in both the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections. Ibrahim Suffian, director of the independent pollster Merdeka Center, shares his main takeaways from the results and examines the issues which affected voter sentiment, including reports of a Chinese voter swing back to BN and a lack of "The Mahathir Effect".


Ministers: Twin polls victory good GE14 omen, opposition leaders must quit  19 Jun 2016 -- Umno supreme council member Idris Jusoh said BN's wins clearly proved the people were still supporting the government via giving the wins with bigger majorities. "What is more important is that the successes show the people, especially voters in the two areas, can evaluate for themselves and are not easily influenced by the rhetorics of the opposition, especially (former prime minister) Dr Mahathir (Mohamad)," he said... Perlis Menteri Besar Azlan Man (photo) regards the BN wins at the Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar parliamentary by-elections announced last night, as extraordinary. He said they were extraordinary because the Umno leadership from the top to the bottom were incessantly attacked since 2015. "These wins have thwarted all accusations hurled against Umno and its leadership by the opposition. "The people of Malaysia, and voters specifically, are more matured and can differentiate between truths and lies, and wild accusations and facts," he added....."..  Some say the majorities are high because of the break-ups involving PAS and Amanah, that is only part of it"Even if Amanah and PAS break up, and Umno, too, breaks up, we will not get that much majorities," he told reporters when commenting on the BN triumphs at the two by-elections. 

Ahmad, who is also Umno Information Technology Bureau chief, said the commitment of the Sungai Besar Umno division chief Jamal Yunus, despite not being picked, also helped the by-election machinery this time.....ural and Regional Development Minister and Umno supreme council member, Ismail Sabri Yaakob.... He said the wins also showed the people rejected the politics of hatred, slander and lies which were championed by the opposition all along. "The opposition, prior to this said the Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar by-elections would become the people's referendum to Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, namely, if the people rejected the BN candidates, it means the people rejected his leadership..... 

Kuala Kangsar by-election: DAP blames PAS for failure to wrestle seat by Nazialita Geynna Maharan, Astro Awani |  June 19, 2016

What by-elections show: Amanah no replacement for PAS, and PAS can’t continue on its own BY AIZYL AZLEE AND YAP TZU GING  June 19, 2016 - See more at:

The Opposition’s crushing defeat in the twin by-elections proves that PAS cannot hold its own with just Malay support while Amanah cannot only rely on non-Malay votes, said observers. Political analysts noted that if the Opposition continues to move forward in its fragmented state, only bad news awaits them in the 14th general election (GE14).“Nobody cares about who comes in second or third place. It just means that all the resources spent amounted to nothing for either parties on election day,” Ibrahim Suffian of independent pollster Merdeka Center told Malay Mail Online..... PAS had come in second, ahead of Amanah in Kuala Kangsar by 801 votes, while in Sungai Besar, it was Amanah ahead of PAS by 707 votes. BN won both seats with a 6,969 and 9,191 majority respectively.... “PAS cannot move forward on its on. What the results show is that without working together, the Opposition have no way to go against BN. “If they are serious about politics, they must figure out how to sit down together,” Ibrahim added..... Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) chief executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan noted that should PAS continue on its own, it would only create a hard time for the rest of the Opposition parties. “If PAS continues as a spoiler, then it means the Opposition will have a most hard time. PAS’ presence is a boon to Umno and bad news for Pakatan,” he told Malay Mail Online.  “This is why I believe Datuk Seri Azmin Ali’s earlier effort to mediate between PAS and Amanah was crucial. Pakatan needs more people who share Azmin’s aspiration to mediate and negotiate between differing parties in the Opposition bloc. Otherwise they will have a very difficult time.”  He added that moving forward, if Pakatan Harapan and PAS remained at odds, he expects PAS to aim its attacks at Amanah as they know they cannot challenge Umno. - See more at:

Kuala Kangsar by-election: Percentage of turnout below target Bernama |  June 18, 2016

18 June 2016: News and view from those on the ground in Sungai Besar and KK

Malaysiakini live blog on by-electionsAmanah rally tells voters to choose roti telur over nasi lemak Team Malaysiakini 17 Jun 2016 LIVE BLOG DAY 13

Editor's note: I also checked with people who have gone to Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar on topics discussed, campaign and outlook:
  • Ceramahs there are relatively small affairs. The Pakatan Harapan grand finale was about 2500 at KK. 
  • Issues discussed include GST (rise in cost of living), rubber price, 1MDB and the Najib-Rosmah jet-and-bags questions. 
  • The Kuala Kangsar UMNO candidate has an issue not being a local (born in Negeri Sembilan) and perceived as Rosmah-associated (chosen ahead of local UMNO KK leaders, both women and men); the local machinery is said to demoralised and the crew for this campaign is mostly from out of state. Notably, the PAS and Amanah candidates are locals (for SB and KK).
  • Hudud is not a topic (except for Chinese politicians to fellow ethnic voters).
  • The Azmin-Mahathir team showed up to a dismal crowd of 300 at SB finale (pro PH teams were at KK not SB); notably in Selangor itself.

A senior political analyst says: Sungai Besar looks fairly secure for BN. If the opposition were to create an upset, it will be in KK. If not for the Pakatan Rakyat breakfup, we can bet on BN losing KK. Strange, who gets more votes between PAS and Amanah seems to be as important as BN versus Pakatan Harapan.

News links:

Rosmah jet video expose by Rafizi

  • Rafizi reveals video in latest jet exposé, expects lawsuit  10 Jun 2016 -- K KANGSAR POLLS For the third consecutive day, PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli continued his expose on Rosmah Mansor using a private jet for a trip to Istanbul. He revealed a two-minute video that purportedly shows Rosmah boarding the plane owned by Emirates Airline (Emirates), while her officers are carrying bags into the aircraft. Speaking to reporters in Kuala Kangsar, Rafizi questioned the number of officers who accompanied Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak's wife on the trip and on the contents of the bags. Claiming that he had "lost count" of the number of bags, the Pandan lawmaker asked why the bags were not placed in the designated luggage area....; video link: 
  • Why must Rosmah waste taxpayers’ money on private jet junket? Yoursay  Published 13 Jun 2016

Support for rubber smallholders
  • Rubber Smallholders Must Be More Proactive In Generating Income - Najib PEKAN, June 11 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak on Saturday said rubber smallholders in the country must proactively think of ways to diversify their source of income in the uncertain global economy. Najib said they should not depend solely on income from tapping rubber in the light of the dropping price of the commodity currently. "Don't just depend on rubber, we must have income from several sources, it will be tough if we have only one source especially when the price of rubber drops. "The government itself has channelled RM29 million for a programme to boost the income of smallholders, so endeavour to find additional sources of income to meet family needs," he said. He said this at a ceremony to hand over the 2016 Risda dividend and the launching of the smallholders death benefits scheme at the Sultan Ahmad Shah Convention Hall here.
  • Najib in Kuala Kangsar to present aid to rubber smallholders BY M. HAMZAH JAMALUDIN - 10 JUNE 2016 --
  • Najib: Sarawak rubber smallholders to each receive RM500 aid March 30, 2015 --

17 June 2016: Some major shifts to note - tilt to China and Sarawak pressure on KL, but likely of little import to rural Peninsula?

Editor's note: KL chat is abuzz with the significant national and geopolitical shifts that are linked to the clean-up of 1MDB and the country's constrained fiscal-debt situation. These are constraints the Najib Administration is labouring under, and are points of pressure against which stakeholders may emerge to gain leverage. Kuching chat includes worries about racial and religious commotions, plus corruption in the Peninsula. The tangle of contradictions is growing, but rural Peninsula should stay on-message in a period of political navel gazing while the Najib Administration moves Malaysia for major change.

Adds notes on the heli crash during the Sarawak state election campaign period.

Sarawak pressures KL on Petronas, budget angst and more

Sarawak seeks to regulate Petronas activities within state BY SULOK TAWIE June 15, 2016

‘Why funds for Pan Borneo Highway minus from budget’

Zahid: RM12m raised by kin given to Filipino Islamic body 16 Jun 2016; Home Minister Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said the RM12 million raised by the families of hostages recently freed by the Abu Sayyaf was given to an Islamic body in the Philippines. However, he stressed that the payment was not ransom to secure the four Sarawakian hostages’ release. “The government decided not to pay ransom, and police adhered to this order. “The money raised was from public donation and assets sales (by the hostages’ families), and I can confirm that it was channelled not as ransom, but to a body in the Philippines which assists in an Islamic struggle.

Malaysia tilt to China?

Source: The Edge Financial Daily June 17, 2016  

Malaysia capitulation to China?

The Way of Amicable Consultations - Enlightenment from both China's and Malaysia's Approach to South China Sea Disputes (From Chinese Embassy in Malaysia) 2016/06/13

KL-Singapore high-speed rail project – China on board BY PATRICK LEE 13 June 2016 | MYT 9:51 AM

Chinese envoy praises Najib’s leadership 22 March 2016

About the Sarawak campaign period heli crash

Editor's note: Since the heli crash that happened during the Sarawak state election campaign period, the Malaysia Ministry of Primary Industries and Commodities (MPIC) has not had a Minister of Deputy Minister (former MP for Sungai Besar). The Minister stepped down and has become one of three Deputy Chief Ministers of Sarawak. The Deputy Minister was in the crash, which also took the lives of the BN legislator (former MP for Kuala Kangsar) appointed as head of the Malaysian Palm Oil Board and the Chief Secretary (top civil servant) of the the MPIC. At this point, questions to the MPIC are answered by the Prime Minister's Office and a cabinet reshuffle is pending. The heli was not alone (a second heli is known to have also been carrying others working on the plantation industry) in visiting at Betong, the constituency seat of the Uggah Embas, the former Minister.

Preliminary report: No disclosure yet on cause of Sarawak heli crash BY BEATRICE NITA JAY - 16 JUNE 2016

Heli crash: Body of pilot found  May 9, 2016

Copter crash: Tragedy strikes fear among campaigners BY STEPHEN THEN 6 May 2016

16 June 2016: Malaysia by-elections on 18 June - Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar (additions underlined)

Editor's note: The overwhelming view is that Barisan Nasional / BN should win both. The battle is over second place - PAS (pushing Hudud Bill, which has been received strong Najib Administration support on being accelerated ahead of government work in Parliament recently) or PAS-splinter of its progressives that is Amanah. A total loss is expected for non-BN parties - they have a relatively weak presence in rural Malaysia, although PAS has its geographic stronghold in the north-east, notably Kelantan and PAS been a major contestant for rural favour. PAS's past history of being part of BN gave it some institutional access, and Felda experts note that there have been repercussions ever since in certain Felda areas - impacting Felda settler acceptance of outsourcing management, replanting and more decades later (especially in more heterogeneous areas). 

Under Malaysia's statist development model, the long-time ruling coalition (in control since Independence) has deep and strong policy and administrative roots in all aspects of rural life, including important economic factors e.g. farmer access to loans for replanting and entrepreneur grants and more. These two areas have little to no Felda presence so this shouldn't be a major factor. However, FELCRA and RISDA are among the key rural state agencies who may matter.

UMNO-BN internal issues include factors such as the Kuala Kangsar candidate (widow of the MP killed in the helicopter crash in the run up to the Sarawak state polls, alongside the Deputy Minister also killed in the same accident - the former MP for Sungai Besar) being absent from the campaign, and how the sympathy votes may play out. Also, whether ex-PM Mahathir has any impact on diluting BN's vote bank (PKR's Selangor Chief Minister has joined in his campaign of complaints PM Najib). Overall, the 1MDB crisis is an issue of high finance that seems to confuse voters and may be regarded as lacking relevance to "rice bowl" considerations in rural Malaysia. Also, "Malay unity" may be driven by fears relating to certain non-ethnic Malay voices in high politics (that voters are often warned are linked to some Christian agenda).

In the race for #2, voter turnout is important, as is mobilization of ethnic Chinese voters. But, some analysts say that the hurdle is 30% Malay votes to have a role in rural Malay politics. The urban-centric opposition parties like PKR  have had a problem penetrating UMNO's rural fortress (Felda and also non-Felda). Some say that Amanah's campaign in Kuala Kangsar seems to be going smoother and more organised than Sungai Besar, so far. Some analysts are hard pushed to predict on PAS vs Amanah. Some reckon say that the PAS machinery and candidates are better.

You can get a sense the BN coalition's (blue logo) rural power in Politweet's graphic of Peninsular Malaysia, which depicts non-BN parties largely in the more urban and semi-urban coastal belts (with major presence in certain states e.g. DAP in Perak):

source:, accessed 16 June 2016

News collection on Rompin by-election here: and research work on Felda political economy:

On the recent Sarawak elections

Elections in Test of Najib After Sarawak Win by  Pooi Koon Chong  May 13, 2016 -- Malaysia will hold by-elections next month after two lawmakers were killed in a helicopter crash, a fresh chance to assess Prime Minister Najib Razak’s popularity after a recent win for his ruling party in the Sarawak state election... Polls in Sungai Besar in Selangor state and for Kuala Kangsar in the northern Perak region will be held on June 18,

Victory and insecurity: Sarawak results and trajectories BY BRIDGET WELSH, GUEST CONTRIBUTOR – 13 MAY 2016