KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 ― Chinese voters who overwhelmingly supported Pakatan Harapan (PH) last year was the section that most rejected the pact during the Tanjung Piai by-election, according to independent research firm Ilham Centre.
It said voters were disenchanted with PH’s unfulfilled pledges, poor communications and leadership as well as generally unhappy about the state of the economy.
It said the Chinese vote switched despite expectations that Barisan Nasional’s (BN) vicarious partnership with PAS and scandals involving Datuk Seri Najib Razak would alienate non-Malay voters.
“The biggest sway or protest votes came from the Chinese which was 34.5 per cent, while PH only lost about 5.1 per cent of votes from the original votes during GE14.
“How BN got the majority 15,000 votes is because they had an additional 13.2 per cent of votes from the Malays and it came from the movement from PH and a solid backing from PAS supporters,” said Mohd Yusri Ibrahim, head of research for Ilham Centre.
“Hence overall the most swing votes came from the Chinese.”
In the final tally, BN’s candidate Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng from MCA received 25,466 votes to bag a majority of 15,086 over PH’s Karmaine Sardini from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia, who received 10,380 votes, confirming pundits’ forecast.
Yusri said the outcome showed the coalition’s hold on the Chinese vote was not as secure as previously thought.
He said the coalition was able to win Johor due to public unhappiness with Najib and BN, but said this has now waned.
“Many are saying Najib's not relevant anymore as he is currently being prosecuted and they trust the courts to handle his case.
“Instead the Malay-Muslim conservatives said PH failed to look out for their rights. Whereas the Chinese we found said the government is still the same as the previous one and aren't looking out for their best interests. Hence a majority we asked are they satisfied with the Johor government and most said no,” added Yusri.
There was also the underlying sentiment from the Malays that DAP controlled the government behind the scenes, which showed the effectiveness of the messaging by PH’s rivals.
“Seventy per cent of the Malays are saying yes, DAP are controlling the government while the Chinese don't agree,” said Yusri.
“As for the Umno-PAS coalition championing only Malay-Muslim rights, this is not seen as a big concern for the non-Malays. Forty percent of the Malays say that the coalition will not sideline the other races but the Chinese and Indians are worried about being left out.”