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The beginning of a new democratic revolution?

And so the results were out. Pakatan Rakyat won 2-1 (4-1, if you count in Permatang Pauh and Kuala Terengganu). To me, the win in Batang Ai has no significance to UMNO, simply because UMNO, as the backbone of Barisan Nasional does not exist in Sarawak. The real battle that UMNO lost was Bukit Gantang.

The results of Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau have also reaffirmed that the political landscape in peninsular Malaysia remains much the same since March 8 last year. And perhaps, to some extent it is a strong signal to Najib's premiership or the approval of Nizar Jamaluddin as the rightful Menteri Besar of Perak; whichever way one prefers to see it. One thing is for certain, the impact of the great political Tsunami of March 8 is still around. Kuala Terengganu, Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau remain a strong testament of the rejection of UMNO and Barisan Nasional as a whole.

A quick analyze on the tri-election results of the infamous two Bukits and one Batang would show a deep sentiment of unpredictability among the new and young voters. Something of which perhaps none of the older generation of political analysts could have an idea of what had happened or what went wrong. Maybe not all, but I've watched a whole lot of rubbish being dished out by some of the so-called political experts trying to justify the losses by UMNO and BN whereas the simple truth is they just don't understand the mind of the young voters. And in this sense, one person that stands out is Dr. Abu Hassan from UM. I believe his understanding was largely based on his studies and ground research conducted during the by-elections.

Let's recap a bit. UMNO picked a local boy as their candidate. Pak Lah has stepped down. Najib Razak was appointed as the new Prime Minister. Tun Dr Mahathir helped out to campaign for UMNO and Barisan Nasional. Khairy Jamaluddin kept a low profile this time around. And the result of these? Only a minor increase in Malay votes whereas the bulk of non-Malay votes solidly went to PAS! The presence of Tun might increase the number of Malay votes for UMNO, but can it also be a reason for the huge drop among the Chinese?

UMNO has failed miserably to win the support of the non-Malays. And the great perception is that UMNO is still seen as the super dominant party while MCA and Gerakan are mere passengers. Therefore, there is no place for hope to rest upon the non-Malay based parties in BN. Therein lies the big problem. To talk about UMNO from a broader perspective, (no I'm not blaming Pak Lah for the Bukit Gantang defeat) Pak Lah's so-called leadership of openness had in a way turned out to backfire the party. Frankly, the problem is not about being open, transparent and so forth, but it is a result of a weak party leadership. A leadership that failed to control the act of some party members. It's a case of nila setitik, rosak susu sebelanga. And it doesn't help much when the alternative media tend to highlight and sensationalize racial and religious issues or statements made by certain UMNO leaders.

As a result, UMNO was perceived to be a racist party espousing extreme ethno-nationalistic political ideology. Extreme voices from within the party began to dominate and seen to be the voice of majority.

While PAS has successfully geared its political stance to the center, UMNO, on the other hand - at least in the context of political perception - went further and further to the extreme right. No doubt that the conservative and hardline party leaders in PAS are still around, but the new liberal and moderate leaders of the so-called Erdogan faction or the pro-Anwar group are becoming more prominent and made their presence felt more than the old conservatives. Now this, I believe, is the delicate role Najib has to play, that is to bring UMNO back to the center, back on track and project itself as a moderate party whilst being firm and fair at same time.

Unless Najib and his group of advisers and his new team in cabinet could turn the tables around, I foresee that nothing much will change in the coming months or years to come.

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