It’s still a duopoly on the east coast

  • Opinion
  • Saturday, 14 Oct 2017

A filepic of the sleepy town of Galas, Gua Musang in Kelantan.

In the forthcoming general elections, let the mousedeer in Kelantan and Terengganu beware. 

THE Windows Phone mobile operating system (OS) is officially dead.

“There’ll be no further development, no miraculous Windows 10 Mobile revivals, and no further attempts to compete with the overwhelming duopoly of Apple’s iOS and Google’s Android,” according to an article, “Windows Phone was a glorious failure”, in The Verge, a website on technology, science, art and culture.

I was reading the article on a turbo-prop flight from Kuala Terengganu to Subang Airport earlier this week and the Windows Phone mobile operating system’s glorious failure reminded me of the political impression I developed from my recent on-the-ground trips to Kelantan and Terengganu.

Before I talk politics, let me talk about smartphone operating systems.

In 2015, according to The Verge article published on Tuesday, the smartphone market was confirmed to be an iPhone (Apple) and Android (Google) duopoly.

Gartner, an American research firm providing information on technology, reported that out of 329 million recorded smartphone sales over the past three months worldwide, 319 million were run on either Android (82.2% share) or iOS (14.6%). Windows Phone OS had a 2.5% share.

In the context of Kelantan and Terengganu politics, the two newly formed political parties – Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia – are like Windows Phone OS in terms of their market share of voters.

(Just in case there are incensed politicos out there who disagree with me as both parties are relatively strong on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia, in this article I am just discussing Amanah and PPBM in the context of Kelantan and Terengganu. The two parties’ strength in Selangor, Perak, Kedah, Penang or Johor is another story.)

The Android and iOS in the two Malay heartlands on the east coast of Peninsular Malaysia are Umno and PAS (although their share of the votes differs from the market share). Both parties are traditional rivals in the two states. And they are entrenched in the political psyche of Kelantan and Terengganu.

Some politicians – from both sides of the political divide (Umno, PAS, PPBM, Amanah, DAP or PKR) – whom I met in Kelantan and Terengganu for coffee and political chats agreed that in GE14 it will be gajah sama gajah berjuang, pelanduk mati di tengah-tengah (when two elephants fight, the mousedeer in the middle dies) in the two states.

Probably the tech-savvy equivalent of the Malay proverb is: when iOS and Android fight, Windows Mobile OS dies in the middle.

The two elephants are Umno and PAS and the mousedeer is Amanah/Pribumi.

Amanah is a PAS splinter party. It was born after “moderates” like Mohamad Sabu (Amanah president), Datuk Husam Musa (Kelantan Amanah vice president) and Datuk Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah (Terengganu Amanah chief) left the Islamic party to form a new Islamist party.

Pribumi is an Umno splinter party. It was formed by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir after they left or were sacked from Umno.

There are Amanah and PPBM politicians who did not agree that their parties are mousedeer that would die sandwiched between two elephants.

“Three-cornered fights are still a good game for us, since both dominant parties are split – PAS’ support will be split because of Amanah and Umno’s support will be split because of Pribumi. And it will be the fence sitters who will decide,” said a Kelantan Amanah leader.

He believed that Pakatan Harapan (consisting of PKR, DAP, Amanah and Pribumi) will win a seat if the alliance gets enough PAS, Umno and fence-sitters’ votes.

The Kelantan Amanah leader also hoped that talk that there was an unofficial pact between Umno and PAS would sway the parties’ die-hards to support Pakatan Harapan.

“If PAS declare that they are with Umno, a third of their members will leave because of Amanat Hadi,” he said, referring to PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang’s decree in 1981 in which he denounced Barisan Nasional for preserving the “colonial constitution, infidel laws and pre-Islamic rules”.

A Terengganu PAS leader did not think that the above scenario would happen in his state.

“I don’t think Amanah can even get 5% of PAS supporters. Look at their ceramah; there are not many going,” he said.

“Our real competition is Umno. It is 50/50. The party which will win in marginal seats in my state is the party which gives better service to the people,” he said.

A Terengganu Umno leader had the same opinion on Pribumi.

“Cap Bunga (Pribumi’s logo) will get two to 5% votes from Umno supporters depending on the seat. It has not gained any traction in my state as those who have left are “has-beens”. It is not like in 1999, when Umno division heads left the party to be with Anwar,” he said, referring to the mini Malay tsunami after Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was sacked as deputy prime minister and deputy Umno president.

When it was launched in October 2010, the Windows Phone OS was described – according to The Verge – as “a million miles away from the skeuomorphism dominating Apple’s phones and Samsung’s copycat efforts”. (The skeumorphism concept involves making items represented resemble their real-world counterparts.) Seven years later, it was officially dead.

In the east coast states of Terengganu and Kelantan, the voters – especially the fence-sitters who, depending on which seats, make up 30% to 40% of the voters – will decide which OS they prefer.

Will Windows Phone OS die in these two states?

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Opinion , Philip Golingai , columnist


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