Analysts: Ahead of GE15, opposition must counter disenchantment with Pakatan as low voter turnout benefits Umno, PAS | Malaysia


Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional flags line both sides of Jalan Sutera ahead of Johor state elections on February 28, 2022. – Bernama pic

KUALA LUMPUR, March 3 – Cheah CY, a 62-year-old pensioner, has been a strong supporter of the opposition DAP party for four decades and never hesitated to vote for the party in previous elections.

Since the fall of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government two years ago, things have changed.

“Why should I go out and vote? When it turns out those in power aren’t who I voted for? he said malaysian mail recently.

“It’s also quite disappointing to see that after GE14, DAP and PKR are nothing to shout about,” he added, referring to the 14th general election that took place in 2018.)

Cheah lamented that he no longer believed the DAP had a clear leadership, as it had shown a willingness to ally itself with parties that had traditionally been its enemies.

For example, in December 2020, Perak DAP Chairman Nga Kor Ming said the party was willing to work with Umno to secure control of the state government after mentri besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu lost there. the power.

“What are they trying to tell us as voters, knowing the very fact that we don’t like Umno because they are not being fair on racial issues?

“It makes me feel like PH doesn’t have many ideas on how to move forward,” the Penangite said.

Cheah added that he believed DAP became arrogant after winning GE14, based on his interactions with local party members who serve his community in Tanjung Bungah.

Cheah was one of the Malaysians, aged between 27 and 62, who malaysian mail recently spoke to who has shown a lack of interest in voting following the political unrest that has plagued the country since 2020.

They cited the ‘Sheraton Move’, as well as a general sense of dissatisfaction with PH’s performance in terms of positive change in the country since GE14.

The ‘Sheraton Move’ refers to the ousting of the PH government in February 2020 following the withdrawal of support from key MPs and the subsequent resignation of then Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“There is no party worth voting for. PH ended up being full of traitors, frogs and never kept their word,” said B. Muniandy, a 27-year-old marketing manager from Subang Jaya.

In Melaka state elections last month, only 65.9 percent of registered voters turned out. Comparatively, in 2018, GE14 saw all constituencies in Melaka show a turnout above 80%.

The latest polls in Sabah and Sarawak also recorded low figures – 66.6% and 60.67% respectively.

“My view is that most voters who didn’t show up to vote in the last state election are disproportionately PH supporters,” said Oh Ei Sun, senior fellow at the Institute of Business Singapore International.

“They were disappointed, for example, by PH signing a memorandum of understanding with the federal government, because they believed that then PH could not be an effective opposition and that PH would collude with this government that they don’t promote.

“If turnout is low, it will disproportionately benefit Umno and to a lesser extent PAS, as both parties have enormous mobilizing capabilities.

“They can mobilize their die-hard supporters to come out and vote, and of course the Umno and PAS voters will outnumber the PH voters,” Oh said.

After Melaka’s election, DAP General Secretary Lim Guan Eng himself attributed the loss of PH to low turnoutas well as the weakness of the electoral apparatus.

Meanwhile, when asked whether two recent policy changes – Undi18 which lowered the voting age in Malaysia to 18 and Automatic Voter Registration (AVR) – would affect voter turnout in upcoming polls, analysts said it was too early to tell.

Penang Institute policy researcher Wong Chin Huat observed that there was not enough information about new voters because they had no voting history.

“It would be dangerous to assume that young people must necessarily be more liberal. Because young people are diverse and some Malaysians may be inclined to support Umno, Bersatu or PAS.

“AVR voters, however, are essentially apolitical citizens who didn’t bother to register to vote in the first place. For their size and nature, AVR voters would be the real wild card that can change the whole game,” he said.

In 2019, the electoral commission predicted 7.8 million new voters by 2023, a 50% increase on the number of voters then – the AVR alone could attract 4.5 million voters aged 21 and over who had not yet registered to vote.

“Collectively, like 40-50% in many constituencies, Undi18 and AVR voters can reverse any election result by simply showing up to vote,” Wong added.

A quick poll of four young Malaysians between the ages of 18 and 20 revealed that they were eager to vote.

The reasons given for their interest ranged from voting being a historic moment in their lives to voting being their duty to their country.

However, only two were sure who they wanted to vote for.

“Yes, I would definitely vote. As I am aware that even a single vote counts and makes a difference,” said Corrina Chong, 20, an accounting student from Subang Jaya.

Chong added that she wanted to vote for an opposition party, which she preferred not to name.

Meanwhile, 19-year-old L. Priyahdarhsini said confidently that she supports the new youth-focused party Muda, should they run in her constituency in Wangsa Maju – as Muda seemed to champion the voices of young people who are often ignored.

“All politicians seem to have their own flaws…I want to see what they do first and I will decide closer to the election,” said Siti Aishah Lalilah, a 20-year-old financial engineering student from Port Dickson, Negri Sembilan.

Talk to malaysian mailUndi18 movement co-founder Tharma Pillai said he fears some members of the Undi18 age group will be disillusioned with the political landscape and choose not to vote despite the struggle to empower them.

“On the issue of 18-20 year olds and their feelings about the current political landscape, I think the disillusionment [with politicians] is felt by some of them,” said the 29-year-old, who was 23 when he started with the movement.

“The main reason would be due to partying. Politicians who are elected today can easily jump ship tomorrow if it suits them politically. Voters have limited recourse to jump from one party to another, other than waiting for another round of elections.

“That is why it is so important to have laws such as the anti-jump law and recall elections to rebuild trust in our democracy. And Undi18 is pushing for these reforms to happen,” he added.

Azmi Hassan, a senior fellow at the Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research, said he was sure most voters, up to 80%, would turn out for GE15 if worries about the pandemic were eased.

“The Covid-19 pandemic was a big factor in voters’ decision not to go out [and vote] in previous regional elections.

“Why I am convinced of a good voter turnout is because the election is the only chance for voters to determine the direction of a nation’s political scenario.

“The last three years of political turmoil are due to the antics of politicians, and I don’t think citizens will miss the chance to determine their own destiny,” he said.

The GE15 is due to take place no later than July 2023. Next week voters in Johor will face national elections scheduled for March 12.


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