Friday 3 August 2012

Negri Sembilan: Feudings in the federation — Sakmongkol AK47

AUG 3 — A little bit of history.

In the 14th century, Sumatran people from the land of the Minangkabau began to settle down in the state today known as Negri Sembilan. They came through Malacca and reached places like Rembau. The Minangkabaus brought their superior civilisation to bear on the local asli tribes. Intermarriages between them resulted in the creation of the Biduanda clan. The Biduanda clan eventually emerged as the successors of the ruling tribes and established the rule that territorial chiefs of Negri Sembilan are only selected from within the Biduanda clan.

The chieftains were originally called penghulus and later as undang. Before the arrival of the paramount chief, Negri Sembilan formed part of the Johor Sultanate which gave the title Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan to the paramount chief.

The name Negri Sembilan was first used in the 16th century to refer to the federation of states founded and opened by these Minangkabau people in the Malay peninsula. In ancient times, the Malay kingdom encompassed states and territories in Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand and even Kampuchea. People moved from one location to another with much ease and fluidity, recognising no artificial boundaries. The Malay kingdom was one united by kinship, common religion, customs and language.

Internecine feuds seemed to beset Negri Sembilan right from its beginning when powerful chiefs from the Biduanda clan jostled for paramount leadership. To avoid the debilitating feuds, the chiefs sent for a uniting figure from Pagar Ruyung. From that day until now, the paramount chief is known as Yam Tuan Besar or Yang di-Pertuan Besar Negeri Sembilan.

While the feuds of old are settled, its modern-day version of a house perpetually divided resurfaced in the form of intense political rivalries. The old chiefs of old are now replaced by Umno warlords.

Negri Sembilan has eight parliamentary seats, three are currently held by Pakatan Rakyat — Seremban (DAP), Rasah (DAP) and Telok Kemang (PKR). In 2008, the average swing in favour of the opposition was 14 per cent. That is, on the average support for the opposition had increased by 14 per cent. Each parliamentary seat exhibits varying degrees of opposition support.

In all my previous analysis, I have included the moderating impacts of what Umno has done. Giving money, bribing people, bringing in phantom voters and all that. Have they succeeded? Realistically they did but only to a limited extent.

The gains made by Umno by the only way Najib knows how — buying his and Umno’s way through — have been cancelled out recently by events Najib cannot control. Najib is not bigger than the market.

The FELDA listing is now being questioned by settlers. It’s also being questioned by non-FELDA villagers. How come they do not get anything yet they face the same rising cost of living as FELDA people? Now that the FGVH share price is below RM5.00, that gives the settler a premium of 45 sen. With 810 shares, the value the settler holds is RM365 gross, deduct RM200, he holds shares worth RM165.

Najib announces RM43 million Hari Raya dividends. As there are 112,000 settlers, each settler family gets RM300-plus.

The other Malays must look at what’s happening. If the settler whom Najib regards as an important ally who forms his vanguard in his transformation plan can be deceived like that, what of the ordinary Malay villagers? The settlers on whose name those elite groups make money are getting a pittance. That’s what Umno is doing to the Malays. The settler gives up all assets belonging to FELDA and he is left with his own 10-acre plot. The plot must later on be divided among the children according to Islam’s Faraid laws. They are going to live off land which is getting smaller and smaller. Settlers give up potential rights on 360,000 hectares which could support 80,000 new settlers.

Umno doesn’t care about you. They care about milking the FELDA cow.

The people of Negri Semblan can use what happened to FELDA as on object lesson. Negri Sembilan has large FELDA areas.

Then there are local issues that are tearing Negri Sembilan Umno apart. The Umno liaison committee chief, who is the MB, doesn’t command a united house. Isa Samad, the former MB, can’t wait to have his hands on Mat Hassan’s throat. There is too much in-fighting. Mat Hassan is dismissive of Rais Yatim as well of Shaziman Abu Mansor, who is seen as a potential MB material and therefore of direct potent threat to his post.

The MB’s older brother is seen as the local version of Rasputin controlling and dictating Mat Hassan’s every move and getting himself involved in the management of the state. Azman Hassan, who is a former corporate man, may have ruffled too many feathers in Negri Sembilan Umno. Ishak Ismail, the Seremban Umno chief, is a powerful warlord whose main preoccupation seems to be ousting Mat Hassan from helming the state. If Mat Hassan continues to be Umno’s commander in the next GE, not only Negri Sembilan will lose its four parliamentary seats but the state will end up with PR.

Gemas has emerged as the most notorious district in Negri Sembilan. It is home to a RM250 million financial scandal. People of Negri Sembilan will also not forget that Gemas is also the other half in the equally scandalous double tracking project linking the town with JB.

With all Umno has done, they most certainly has regained lost ground. Can they recover all? Perhaps they can regain 5 per cent and issues after issues come out to discredit Umno.

Most importantly I have made the assumption that PR, after all the gains and inroads they made in 2008, has done NOTHING. What if they have fortified the gains they made and in many cases increase them further?
It’s Armageddon for Umno.

Since 2004, there has been an overall increase of support for the opposition.

But let’s give the benefit of doubt to Umno. That with all the deception, bribery, cash handouts, daily propaganda they have done, they manage to regain 5 percentage points. That leaves a 9 per cent credit to the opposition.

If each parliamentary seat is given a 9 per cent vote swing, PR can still win four parliamentary seats.

Rembau, the seat of the Umno Youth chief, is set to go. Anthony Loke is entrenched in Rasah. Seremban has always been a traditional seat for the DAP. Telok Kemang will be retained by PKR.

It would be interesting to field Aspan Alias in Rembau to take on KJ if he is lucky to be retained as moves are under way by unseen Umno old hands to kick him out. In any case KJ has announced he doesn’t want to contest.

Or as a powerful symbolic gesture, field Aspan in Seremban.

If PR can offer quality and credible candidates in Jempol and Kuala Pilah, these two are possible seats for PR.

Orang-orang Melayu Negri Sembilan: do you still want to vote Umno? Not voting Umno doesn’t erase your Malayness and doesn’t cancel out your Muslim-ness. —

* Sakmongkol AK47 is the nom de plume of Datuk Mohd Ariff Sabri Abdul Aziz. He was Pulau Manis assemblyman (2004-2008

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