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Malaysia GE2022: Malay voters want safety and reliability, say observers on Perikatan’s success

Malaysia's former Prime Minister and the leader of Perikatan Nasional Muhyiddin Yassin delivers his speech during the party's campaign for the general election at Ulu Klang, Selangor on Nov 14, 2022.
Malaysia's former Prime Minister and the leader of Perikatan Nasional Muhyiddin Yassin delivers his speech during the party's campaign for the general election at Ulu Klang, Selangor on Nov 14, 2022.

KUALA LUMPUR — Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) success in winning 73 parliamentary seats in the general election (GE) was due to Malay swing voters who wanted to elect a safe and reliable coalition, analysts said. 

Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) failure to secure the support of young voters also caused it to lose Malay support. 

Analyst Mazlan Ali told The Malaysian Insight young voters were looking for a safer Malay party, but no one expected the wave to be so big so as to cause a “Malay tsunami”. 

He said Malay voters shifted allegiance because they felt Barisan Nasional (BN) was involved in too many integrity issues, while PH had a stigma of not being liked by a segment of voters. 

“(Some voters) not choosing PH, there’s a stigma. The PN campaign carried the Malay agenda, they were causing (the Malay voters) to choose an alternative to Umno and the most suitable was PN,” he said.

Young and first-time voters were also angry with the issues of corruption and abuses of power by BN leaders. 

The hardcore BN supporters, which he defined as the subject Malay group, also switched to PN, which is made up of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM), Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS), Gerakan, and two Sabah parties, STAR and Sabah Progressive Party. 

“Young people — fence-sitters — they wanted assurances. Among them are fresh graduates whose first salary is only RM1,500 (S$452) and (when they saw) Umno leaders being corrupt, they got angry. 

“For the subject Malay group, those who are loyal to the party, and have strong Islamic backgrounds, they were angry at Umno and went to PN,” he said. 

The general election saw BN lose support in almost half of its traditional areas while 29 seats were won by PN, especially in the eastern and northern states. 

“Umno should have won up to 80, 90 seats, but lost many Malay votes,” said Mr Mazlan. 

One example was in Kuala Krau, Pahang, where incumbent Ismail Mohamed Said lost to Kamal Ashaari, who won by 1,024 votes. 

The former Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker failed to defend the seat he had held for four terms with only 21,481 votes. 

Kuala Krau has a large proportion of Malay voters, around 90 per cent. 

The swing votes also caused BN to have no parliamentary representatives in Perlis, Kedah, Kelantan, Terengganu, Penang, Malacca or Selangor. 

Mr Mazlan estimated that PN managed to get about 65 per cent of Malay support in the general election, while PH received 15 per cent to 20 per cent of the vote. 

In the last general election, Merdeka Centre researchers discovered that between 25 per cent and 30 per cent Malay voters switched support to PH. 

The think tank estimated that Malay voters who supported BN were between 35 per cent and 40 per cent, and PAS received between 30 and 33 per cent. 

Ilham Centre on the other hand found that PH received the support of about 11 per cent of Malay voters. 

The research body however said the 11 per cent PH received in the last general elections was not “genuine” because it was from Umno and PAS supporters.

Young and first-time voters were also angry with the issues of corruption and abuses of power by BN leaders. 

Ilham Centre executive director Hisomuddin Bakar told The Malaysian Insight that the vote swing from BN and PH to PN this time happened in the last round of the GE campaign period. 

The transition, he said, took place in Malay areas, especially in Kedah, Penang, and Perak, and also on the east coast, in Pahang, Kelantan, and Terengganu. 

Data from Politweet, a social media data analysis platform, showed the largest shift in votes for PN occurred in Perlis at around 31 per cent, followed by Putrajaya at 28 per cent and Kedah at 23  per cent. 

Other states showed a shift of around 12 per cent to 19 per cent, said Mr Hisomuddin. 

“(The shift in the Malay votes in) most of the west coast states was levelled by the votes received from non-Malay voters,” he said.

He added that PN’s strength in using new media platforms such as TikTok made them more competitive than the other two coalitions, especially PH.

However, PH dominated the cyberspace to attract support for the coalition in the 2013 and 2018 general elections, said Mr Hisomuddin. 

“It turns out that PH chose the same way, gathering support from ceramah and changing (the content) to Facebook and YouTube…that’s the old way. 

“It still maintains the old rhythm, and that doesn’t interest young voters. 

“PH was so into its own world that it missed out on young voters, while BN failed to give PN any competition on social media.” 

The series of silent protests by BN machinery after many heavyweights were replaced was also a factor in BN’s downfall, he said. 

“There was a big change of BN candidates due to silent protests, and also (elements of) sabotage, which I think actually caused BN to fall in winnable seats. 

“When its machinery protested silently, its campaign did not work, causing the PN machinery (to dominate) in terms of flags and banners. 

“BN did not give PN any competition,” said Mr Hisomuddin. 

“(PN’s) campaign on TikTok and psychological warfare using flags and posters influenced fence-sitters to vote for PN,” he said. 

Mr Hisomuddin said the allegiance of Malay voters has now changed to PN. 

“Fence-sitters and first-time voters supported PN and they now depend on PN to safeguard the Malays.

“It used to be Umno, but now it has shifted to a new direction, which is to PAS and Bersatu. 

“This is what happens when young voters give their trust,” he added. THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT

Visit our Malaysia Elections 2022 page for the latest coverage, updates from TODAY journalists on the ground and more.

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Malaysia Elections 2022 Pakatan Harapan Perikatan Nasional Muhyiddin Yassin Malaysia Malaysian politics

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