KUALA LUMPUR, May 8 — The Indian community may be the kingmakers in the Kuala Kubu Baru (KKB) by-election this weekend as a low turnout of Malay voters is expected, according to observers.

The Straits Times news portal reported that the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition is honing in on the 7,200 Indian voters in the Malay-majority constituency of KKB, knowing that its unlikely to get any support from the Chinese.

“The campaign from PN is directed towards targeting the Indians to support them. They can’t get the Chinese vote, and they are working hard to sway Indians to vote PN for a simple majority.

“It seems like the Indian community is the kingmaker in the KKB by-election,” Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of Ethnic Studies deputy director professor Kartini Aboo Talib was quoted saying.


In the semi-urban constituency in Selangor, Malays make up some 49.6 per cent of the roll, Chinese make up 30.6 per cent, Indians 18 per cent and other races make up 2.1 per cent of roughly 40,000 voters.

Conventionally, Pakatan Harapan attracts the ethnic Chinese, Indians and progressive urban Malays while PN has a stronger Malay following.

Although Malays make up almost half of the voting base in KKB, PN is worried that low voter turnout — Kartini predicts a 60 per cent to 65 per cent turnout — would affect its chances of winning.


The report said that Indian support for PH has been waning, due to the perception that they have been taken for granted by the ruling government, and that their needs are not being met.

In general, they said voters were disappointed with the rising cost of living, the weakening economy due to the ringgit’s depreciation, and the slow pace of promised institutional reforms.

University of Nottingham Asia Research Institute-Malaysia researcher Bridget Welsh said that so far campaigning from both main parties has been lacklustre and the voters are not as engaged with their potential representatives.

“Turnout drops disadvantage PH, but the question will be by how much. PN and PH are both facing challenges bringing out the vote. There is dissatisfaction and lack of enthusiasm towards all sides,” said Welsh.

The four-cornered fight sees PH candidate Pang Sock Tao against PN’s Khairul Azhari Saut, independent candidate Nyau Ke Xin and Parti Rakyat Malaysia’s Hafizah Zainudin.

The major contenders to win are Pang and Khairul.

Pang has campaigned for industrial development in the district, empowering local tourism and entrepreneurship, and advocate high-tech investments to create jobs for its residents while Khairul has touted more eco-friendly tourism efforts and quality infrastructure to bolster economic activities.

Although the by election will have little effect on the status of the state government, it could be a gauge of support for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s administration.

Election fatigue has also set in, as this is the third election for KKB in three years — the 2022 General Election, the 2023 Selangor state election, and this weekend’s by election triggered by the death of PH incumbent Lee Kee Hiong in March.