Study: Malay votes in GE15 not a monolith, but discourse dominated by anti-DAP sentiment

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 20 — A research conducted by Iman Research said it found that the Malay community's voting patterns during the 15th general election were "the most diverse", and not as easy to pigeonhole.

The think tank pointed out that pre-election, there was a prevalent sentiment that "Malay rights were being eroded and that Islam is under threat by non-Muslims" — which led to the situation where numerous ethnic-based political parties were fighting over the same demographic, the Malays.

"This has led to the rise in ethnoreligious based campaigning where each political party tried to outdo the other. The Malay voting segment alone is estimated to be around 40 per cent of the total voters, a significant piece of the pie," it said in the report titled "Election Sentiments Analysis of Malaysia’s 15th General Election”.

Its research said that there were two factors at the top of the majority group's mind: their livelihoods and the position of Malays. This led to them utilising a two-tier process in choosing their representatives.

"First, as their livelihood is seen as connected to corruption, they want clean and non-corrupt leaders. Second, they are looking for leaders that will safeguard the position and ‘take care’ of the Malays,” it said.

The study also showed that as Malay-Muslim narratives became the central theme of the election, campaigning tended to focus on the community "taking care” of its own interests rather than any clash of ideologies. In this regard, PH was not seen as fulfilling this criterion.

"As the campaign from both Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Perikatan Nasional (PN) to portray Barisan Nasional/Umno as corrupt, naturally the Malay voters would lean into the coalition that fulfils the two criteria mentioned above — PN," it said.

Iman suggested there were three main points that were presented as threats to the Malay community prior to the election: the alleged threat of DAP, liberalism, and the polarising effect of PH chairman Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who was despised by the conservatives.

It highlighted how its respondents in non-urban areas said they were worried about a "non-Muslim party" winning easily in urban areas, which was a reference to DAP.

"This fear of losing out to a non-Muslim party is seemingly obvious amongst Malay-Muslim respondents interviewed. Although, there are some Malay-Muslim respondents who dismissed the 'fear-mongering' tactics that a non-Muslim win of the election would bring detriments to the majority Malay-Muslim population, a tactic that is 'too often used by Malay-Muslim groups to sow hatred towards other Malaysians'," it related.

Iman Research focuses on the domains of protective security, peacebuilding and sustainable development, with experts in sectors of preventing and countering violent extremism, ethnoreligious issues, social policy and community resilience.

The think tank conducted the latest research through news reports and interviews nationwide prior to and during the GE15 campaigning period.

The last general election saw an unprecedented result as no political side managed to get a simple majority of 112 seats to form the federal government.

Five days after the election day, Malaysia finally formed a government after Yang di-Pertuan Agong summoned PH's Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to lead a coalition government with BN, Gabungan Parti Sarawak, and Gabungan Rakyat Sabah.