Chinese and Orang Asli votes rock solid for Pakatan Harapan, while Indian votes sway

Ihlam Center found that voting patterns for Orang Asli and Chinese are rock solid while Indian vote sway in the second week of Kuala Kubu Baharu KKB by-election.

For Chinese ethnic voters, the majority tend to vote for Pakatan Harapan (PH), Executive Director of ILHAM Centre, Hisommudin Bakar said.

“Although there are some issues that indicate dissatisfaction with the Unity Government such as tax policies, subsidy adjustments, price of goods, and so on, they have no other choice but to support PH,” Hisommudin added. 

He also mentioned that their dissatisfaction with PH does not show signs of shifting support to PN. This is because the rejection factor from PN is greater than the discomfort factor with PH and the Unity Government. 

“They believe that PN’s hard-line approach to the Chinese community, along with various issues such as PAS’s remarks about vernacular schools, have caused them to distance themselves from PN,” he said. 

He also claimed Pas isn’t showing much enthusiasm in campaigning in KKB, which is why Umno is gaining momentum in the Kuala Kubu Baharu by-election. 

“It’s noticeable that Pas isn’t putting much effort into mobilizing its machinery for this event,” he said. 

“This time, there was no sign of PAS machinery from other states besides Selangor stationed in each polling district. PAS Selangor’s participation was also not aggressive, contributing to such an atmosphere,” Hisommudin added. 

Indian and Orang Asli voters 

He claimed that Indian and Orang Asli voters have become an attractive target in the current by-election, with issues related to the interests and welfare of the Indian voter community taking centre stage in the campaign. 

He added that the campaign started off heatedly as leaders representing the Indian community, not aligned with the government, emerged either through political parties, non-governmental organizations, or as individuals, urging Indian voters to boycott the by-election or vote for candidates other than those from PH as a protest signal. 

“This was to express dissatisfaction with the current federal government, which appears to overlook the interests of the Indian community. The absence of Indian leadership in the Cabinet was also questioned,” Hisommudin said. 

“In the first week, Indian voters seemed affected. However, during the second week, there was a change observed after the Unity Government offered responses to the residents here. 

“The announcement by the Minister of Housing and Local Government (KPKT) to address housing issues involving the fate of 1,250 families of former workers on five estates, namely Ladang Mary, Ladang Sungai Tinggi, Ladang Bukit Tagar, Ladang Nigel Gardner, and Ladang Minyak, was seen as a turning point and helped ease tensions. 

“The residents offered this resolution still seem to have faith in the government, indicating where their votes may lean tomorrow,” he explained in the statement. 

As for the Orang Asli community, the BN machinery appears effective in approaching this group of voters. 

“Despite existing infrastructure lagging in Orang Asli settlements, loyalty to the government, coupled with the difficulty faced by opponents in penetrating this group, provides a slight advantage for PH candidates,” Hisommudin said.

In the quest for votes, traditional leadership and customs are closely intertwined with this voter segment. 

He claimed that the role of the village chief of the Orang Asli community remains relevant and significant in translating the votes of the electorate. 

“Most village chiefs express the desire for whoever is elected to maintain a friendly, supportive stance and not overlook the fate of the Orang Asli, especially regarding education and infrastructure development. 

“However, there’s a slight difference among Orang Asli youth who have been exposed. They are somewhat divided in expressing their attitudes and votes. For them, their votes are not tied to or dependent on local leaders,” he said. 

“While the online world is buzzing, the campaign trail in the field appears bleak. Observing the campaign journey, which is the backbone of any election, it’s evident that the Kuala Kubu Baharu area is gloomier compared to other post-GE-15 by-elections.

“For political observers, this by-election campaign journey is rather dull. The physical campaign efforts of candidates receive lukewarm responses from the public,” he said. 

Hisommudin stated that parties have to rely on their own machinery to liven up events, adding that large-scale campaign rallies seldom attract local residents. 

Instead, he claimed that political tourists who come from outside become the audience for political speeches on weekends. 

“On regular days, only party supporters fill the seats at campaign rallies. Fence-sitting voters, including young people, are challenging to spot at campaign venues. 

“Days pass by as if there’s no election festival underway. Voters go about their daily lives, with the irony being that the atmosphere appears somewhat lively on social media,” he said. 

ILHAM Centre is a research firm that has been conducting public opinion studies in Malaysia since 2006.

DAP’s Pang Sock Tao is running as Pakatan Harapan’s candidate in the upcoming KKB by-election on May 11th.

The by-election was prompted by the passing of its three-term incumbent, Lee Kee Hiong, who was also from the DAP.

Other contenders include Khairul Azhari Saut from Bersatu, Hafızah Zainuddin from Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM), and Nyau Ke Xin, an Independent candidate.

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