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Monday, October 29, 2012
BN To WIN PRU
Despite Pakatan push, BN expects to win more than 140 seats
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 — The ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) expects to win more than the 140 federal seats it took in Election 2008 despite the onslaught and talk by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) that it can capture Putrajaya in the next general election which must be called by the end of April 2013, say government sources.
But BN politicians concede that as many as seven parliamentary seats in Sarawak and six in Sabah are vulnerable to PR but maintain that their stronghold on rural areas remain strong. There are 222 parliamentary constituencies and 505 state seats up for grabs in the coming 13th general election.
BN is confident of winning more seats than it did in the 2008 general election.
“The worst-case scenario is winning just over 120 seats but we’re confident of getting as much as we did in 2008 if not more,” a senior BN official told The Malaysian Insider, saying that their calculations do not take into account the impact of another Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M) payout next January where households earning less than RM3,000 a month will get a one-off RM500 cash aid.
The Malaysian Insider learnt that BN secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Mansor expressed confidence that the ruling coalition will do as well as in 2008 during a recent talk with the Foreign Correspondents Club of Malaysia despite uneasiness over risky seats in the coalition’s “fixed deposit” states of Sabah and Sarawak.
It is understood that BN is expecting to lose some of the seats held by four Sabah MPs who left the coalition while the urban Chinese sentiment in Sarawak could see those seats going to PR. In Election 2008, the DAP was the sole PR component party to win a federal seat each in Sabah and Sarawak.
However, the opposition has questioned BN’s confidence as the ruling coalition expects to lose more seats in Sabah and Sarawak in the coming elections than before. “How is BN going to make up for losses in the fixed deposit states?” asked an opposition lawmaker when contacted by The Malaysian Insider.
“BN knows it can lose up to six in Sabah and seven in Sarawak but it hopes to make it up elsewhere, especially in the peninsula where sentiment is swinging back to the government,” one Umno leader told The Malaysian Insider, saying programmes like BR1M have a positive effect on voters.
The BR1M began earlier this year and some RM2 billion was spent for over four million households. The BR1M 2.0 also includes a one-off RM250 for unmarried people between 21 and 30 who earn up to RM2,000.
Analysts say the expanded coverage would include most of the 2.2 million first-time voters expected to cast their ballots in the next elections. There are now just over 13 million voters in the country of 28 million people.
BN politicians also point out that they are expected to get back support from the Indian community, who number 1.7 million, as the coalition has been fulfilling their requests and also extended more aid to them.
Many Indians had blamed former MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu for their poor financial circumstances and turned their backs on him and BN in Election 2008. Samy Vellu also lost in his Sungai Siput stronghold in that election.
“The Indians are showing more support but we have to work harder. We also have to work harder to get Chinese support apart from others,” the Umno leader said, pointing out that the Najib administration has been working at meeting the requests from all communities in the country.
BN lawmakers note that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s approval rating dropped only one per cent to 64 per cent in June although the government’s approval rating dipped six per cent to 42 per cent in the same month with a major drop in satisfaction coming from Malay voters.
They also pointed out that Najib’s popularity has held despite the daily ceramahs around the country by PR politicians criticising the government on many issues. “PR holds four states now and they are going all out with their ceramahs and blogs but our support remains,” added the Umno leader, who declined to be named.
“We are also pushing ahead to keep our support and get more, especially from the young,” he said.
He said Najib, Cabinet ministers and other aspiring politicians have been visiting all constituencies and also taken to social media to garner support from voters in what is expected to be another closely-fought general election.
The BN mandate expires in April 2013, leaving Najib just six months more to call elections.