KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 25 — Chinese Malaysian voters had the highest turnout during the August 12 six state elections, local pollster Ilham Centre disclosed today.
The think tank, which ran a survey starting from July 11, attributed the minority group’s high turnout rate to racial and religious rhetoric employed by the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition.
It said the “green wave” touted by Islamist party PAS and coalition partner Bersatu had an adverse reaction from the ethnic Chinese community that made a lot of them go out to vote to counter the phenomenon.
“PN and their machinery used a lot of 2R — race and religion — rhetoric for campaigning. The next big thing they used was to mention how Malays were threatened with bringing up national issues like how the coalition of Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional was bad for Muslims and Malays. This was a constant throughout the campaign period.
“It surprised us at how different the story was in Kelantan and Terengganu compared to Selangor and Negeri Sembilan or Penang. In the latter states, PN only played up national issues, never mentioning anything to do with highlighting the state’s poor plight or the people’s struggles.
“There’s also no mention of who will be the state menteri besar or what they’re planning for the people’s betterment. So what happened is the non-Malays especially the Chinese, then came out in droves to vote in support of PH-BN,” Ilham Centre's chief researcher Professor Mohd Yusri Ibrahim said during a media presentation of its findings here.
Yusir said 90 per cent of the Chinese respondents Ilham Centre spoke with said they were excited and waiting to go out to vote.
This, he said, was a reaction to the hardline stance taken by the PN whose race and religious rhetoric sparked fear.
Overall, Ilham Centre said the Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional (PH-BN) alliance saw 94 per cent of Chinese votes in all six states.
It noted that PN commanded 71 per cent of the ethnic Malay votes compared to PH-BN’s 29 per cent. PH-BN also commanded the majority of the Indian votes at 76 per cent.
The survey showed that in Kedah in areas that were less than 65 per cent Muslim majority, PH-BN had around 35 per cent of the votes while any area which exceeded 65 per cent Malays were 100 per cent for PN.
In Kelantan, it was the same with Ph-BN only garnering 4 per cent of all votes.
In Negeri Sembilan, areas with more than 65 per cent Malays gave 100 per cent support to PH-BN whereas in areas that exceeded 65 per cent Malays, it was split 75 per cent for PH-BN and 25 per cent for PN.
In Penang, 96 per cent went to PH-BN in areas with more than 65 per cent Malays while in areas with more than 65 per cent Malays the popular vote went to PN with a split of 23 per cent to 77 per cent.
In Selangor, areas with more than 65 per cent Malays voted for PN at 83 per cent compared to 91 per cent for PH-BN in areas with less than 65 per cent Malays.
Ilham Centre said that the results in Terengganu were as expected, as the PH-BN alliance did not win a single state seat.
The survey encompassed 2,416 respondents in its first series, conducted from July 11 to July 27, and 2,304 respondents in its final phase from July 29 to August 8.
Ilham Centre said its participants included a diverse demographic, spanning different age groups.
The survey indicated that participants were distributed across various age groups, with 11 per cent falling within the 18-20 bracket, 22 per cent in the 21-29 range, 21 per cent among those aged 30-39, 18 per cent within the 40-49 category, 16 per cent belonging to the 50-59 demographic, and 13 per cent aged 60 and above.