Despite the upbeat government spin, when you read the economists’ forecasts, you will realise that 2016 is going to be a difficult year economically and, I add, politically. The economic growth rate is predicted to go down from 4.5% to 5.5% last year to 4% to 5% this year. Ultimately, this would mean that more people are going to fall into the bottom 40% of the population who struggle most to make ends meet.
It’s within this context that I am going to make my predictions for Malaysia for this year.
Umno and BN: Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak will likely remain entrenched in his No 1 position. But it will cost him and the BN the next general election. With the gloomy economic outlook, it is very unlikely that anything the government does would be able to stop more and more people from falling into the bottom 40% of the population.
The problem with the current administration is that a lot of money is changing hands but the bottom 40% is expanding and may eventually become the bottom 43%, or 45% or more. The majority of this bottom 40% are Malays, and if — despite BRIM and all the other freebies the people get under the 1Malaysia concept — their numbers are not reduced, one can safely conclude that they would abandon Umno and the BN who can no longer assure them of their rice bowls, which translates to fewer votes for Umno and the BN.
If, for whatever reason there is a change in Umno leadership, it would not mean that Umno will win the next general election. People on the ground are quite disgruntled by all the things that the current Umno leadership is resorting to and which are being tolerated — even when they shouldn’t be tolerated — all for the sake of staying in power. If such grassroots sentiments are not accurately read as being quite widespread, Umno will be shockingly disappointed in the next general election.
If Umno changes its leadership, it might still lose the next general election, but the party would save itself in that it reflects a resolve to play in a level playing field and that would work in its favour sooner rather than later.
PKR: This opposition Malay party is in a prime position to assume national leadership after the next general election. Unfortunately, it lacks national leaders of the calibre of its advisor, Anwar Ibrahim, who is in jail. Well, it has two years to groom all the leaders it needs and wants. When the time is right, it will get the leaders it needs.
PAS: It’s best for PAS to stay as a partner in the PKR-led opposition with the DAP (representing the Chinese). If Umno joins forces with PAS, the Sarawak elections will indicate very clearly what Sarawakians think of such an administration.
SARAWAK ELECTIONS: About 43% of the population in Sarawak is Christian (source: Wikipedia). They will determine the outcome of the coming Sarawak elections. That is also the reason for some concessions that have been given to Sarawak like allowing their law-makers to speak in English in the legislative assembly and the allocation of additional funds for rural development projects.
Sarawak Christians need to understand that in the current political climate, whether they vote for the BN or the opposition, they will be taken care of. They need to realise that in the coming state elections, they need to vote with national — not state — interests in mind.
My message to Sarawak Christians is simple: vote by faith as God directs and Sarawak will be in good hands!
God may do a lot of things with or without us, but He also impacts the societies we live in through us. That happens when we, by faith, make decisions to advance what is right and good.
That is true not just of Sarawak Christians but of all His people all over the world. May we let Him move through us in the new year and after.