10-day Countdown to 13GE - Three reasons why Johorians will vote in record numbers for Pakatan Rakyat in the 13th general elections

Johor, my birth state, is arguably the most important state in Peninsular Malaysia in the upcoming 13th general elections. Not only does it have the largest number of parliament seats in Peninsular Malaysia (26), it is also a state where, unlike in the past, the BN can no longer guarantee a clean sweep of all or almost all of the parliament and state seats.

I have outlined the four objectives of the Battle of Gelang Patah last week. Objective One is to target the 6 Parliamentary and 13 State Assembly seats in South Johor. Objective Two is to target a total of 19 Parliamentary and 30 State Assembly seats in the whole of Johor, which includes the South Johor seats mentioned in Objective One. Objective Three is to target 33 out of the 83 Parliamentary seats in the BN ‘fixed deposit’ states of Johor, Sabah and Sarawak in order to reach the magic number of 112 parliament seats. Objective Four is to win an additional 12 seats to win 125 parliament seats and obtain a comfortable governing majority of 28 seats.

Why do I feel confident that the winds of change are blowing sufficiently strongly in Johor so much so that it will no longer be a BN ‘fixed deposit’ state in GE13? There are at least three reasons.

Firstly, we have seen how big swings in the past have allowed the opposition to make significant gains. If these swings are big enough, it may even allow the opposition to win a majority of seats and gain control of a state government.

We saw this in Selangor in 2008. From 1995 to 2004, the opposition failed to win a single parliament seats in this state, including the 1999 general elections where the BN suffered a backlash from the victimization of Anwar Ibrahim, especially among the Malay voters. From 1995 to 2004, the most number of state seats won by the opposition was 6 out of a total of 48 state seats (1/8th or 12.5% of total state seats). And yet, in 2008, the opposition’s share of the popular vote jumped from 34% in 2004 to 55% in 2008, a massive swing of 21%! As a result, the opposition parties – PKR, PAS and DAP – won a majority of parliament seats (17 out of 22) and well as state seats (36 out of 56), thereby ushering in a Pakatan state government in Selangor for the first time in Malaysia’s history.

Table 1: Number of parliament seats won by the opposition (1995 to 2008)

1995 1999 2004 2008
Parliament seats 0 0 0 17
State seats 3 6 2 36

There is no reason to think why something like what happened in Selangor in 2008 cannot take place again in Johor in 2013. Although the swing may not be sufficient for Pakatan to win a majority of parliament and state seats, the target of winning at least 1/3rd of seats should be achievable under the current political circumstances.

Secondly, we have actually seen shifts in the voting patterns in Johor in the past (1999 and 2008). But the magnitude of these shifts was not big enough to increase the number of seats won by the opposition. BN’s support in Johor fell from 76% in 1995 to 73% in 1999. It fell by 10% from 75% in 2004 to 65% in 2008. Johorians lost the opportunity to send a strong signal to the BN in 1999 and 2008. I am confident that they will not lose a third opportunity to do so in the upcoming 13th general election.

Thirdly, Johor has experienced a significant increase in the number of new, mostly young, voters in the 2008 general election. Johor has experienced the 2nd highest increase in the number of voters from 2008 to 2012, after Selangor. There has been a net increase (new voters and those who have moved to Johor minus those who have passed away and move out of Johor) of close to 300,000 from 1.3 million in GE2008 to 1.6 million in the 4th quarter 2012 electoral roll, an increase of 23%. The number of newly registered voters is higher - at 450,000 new voters which is 28% of total voters in Johor. 52% (or 235,000) of these newly registered voters are below the age of 30. 70% of them (315,000) are below the age of 35. These are the voters who will vote according to the new political realities of today and not be tied down to past voting patterns and habits in Johor. These are the swing voters who will decide who governs in Putrajaya and also who controls the state administration of Johor. I am confident that a majority of them will vote for change, that they will vote for Pakatan and that they will vote for a better and brighter future for Johorians and all Malaysians.

For far too long, Johorians have allowed the BN to have a free reign in the state of Johor. This will no longer be the case after the 13th general election.

In my next article, I will outline why Johorians need to vote for a Pakatan federal as well as a state government.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Ipoh Timur