POLLSTER Merdeka Centre found that Chinese overwhelmingly cast their ballots for Pakatan Harapan in the May 9 general election, while the Malay vote was evenly split, the Straits Times reports. About 95% of Chinese voters chose Pakatan Harapan (PH), the four-party coalition led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad in the May 9 general election, more than the 85% who supported the now-defunct Pakatan Rakyat coalition in 2013, while 35-40% of Malays voted BN, another 30-33% supported PAS, and the remaining 25-30% picked PH. As for Indian voters, the figure shows 70-75% of them supported PH.
In the last election in 2013, 85% of Chinese voted for the now defunct Pakatan Rakyat opposition grouping that included PAS, as well as DAP and PKR, while Malays and Indians voters that backed Pakatan Rakyat coalition are 36% and 62% respectively. The report warned that the split in Malay votes would have major implications in future elections as PH, BN and PAS fight it out for their support. Analysts say the three-way split of Malay votes means that the support of Malaysia’s largest ethnic group will be fiercely contested by the three main political groups. The report said although a higher percentage of Malays voted for PH in Johor and in west coast states such as Melaka and Negeri Sembilan, PH’s overall Malay support was pulled down by its weak performance in Kelantan and Terengganu. PAS meanwhile retained Kelantan, captured Terengganu and made inroads in the Malay heartland states of Kedah and Perak.
It quoted Merdeka Center’s research manager Tan Seng Keat as saying that while many traditional BN supporters were unhappy with former Prime Minister Najib Razak and his goods and services tax, they did not trust PH, either. This was because some Malays believed PAS and BN propaganda which state that PH was controlled by the Chinese-dominated DAP. “Propaganda indoctrination over all these years cannot change in just a few days of campaigning, even with Dr Mahathir Mohamad there. For them, Umno is a Malay party, a Muslim party. They feel safe,” Tan told ST. The report, quoting analysts, said the split Malay vote meant that PH leaders must tread carefully in framing issues deemed sensitive to Malays if they wanted to gain their trust. And Umno and PAS would try even harder to woo the Malays by using the familiar baits of race and religion, they said.
This means PH leaders must carefully frame issues that could be sensitive to Malays, such as the appointment of Tommy Thomas, the first non-Malay attorney-general since independence, and the questioning of royal expenses. Amir Fareed Rahim, analyst at the KRA Group political consultancy: “If PH continues to push through what is seen as a ‘liberal’ agenda such as demonising royals, if Umno is not ready in five years, Malays will go to PAS.” PH de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim said last week that Malays were worried that by appointing a non-Malay as A-G, Malay rights and the position of Islam would be at risk. But, the daily reported, political scientist Wong Chin Huat of think tank Penang Institute, had a different take. He believes about 20% more Malays will always support the government of the day.
“I would therefore believe PH will now have about, if not more than, 50% support amongst the Malays post-election.” – June 14, 2018.