Survey: Despite Pakatan win in GE14, rural voters still back BN, Umno

Kenneth Tee
Voters queue to cast their votes outside a polling station during the 14th general elections in SMK Sri Muar, Muar May 9, 2018. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 — Rural Malay votes backing Umno-Barisan Nasional (BN) remain unchanged due to issues that the government has failed to address despite Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) unprecedented win in the 14th general election in May 2018, think-tank Ilham Centre said.

Ilham Centre said it is a well-known fact that Malay votes for PH were not entirely “genuine” in the name of change compared to the general protest shown towards former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s kleptocracy issues that were raised during the election campaigning period.

“It can be said that in the last general election, Malay support for PH was only about 23 per cent compared to BN 45 per cent and PAS 32 per cent,” it said in a statement here.

It added that this was despite the fact that patterns of Malay support varied by region, locality, ethnicity, age and gender.

“In certain areas, party identification was more significant compared to others and vice versa. It is entirely diverse and random,” it said.

According to Ilham Centre, the four main factors contributing to Umno-BN’s defeat in GE14 were: a three-cornered fight between PH, BN and PAS, followed by anti-Najib sentiment, and subsequently, cost of living issues from the now-abolished Goods and Services Tax (GST).

Umno and BN suffered a shock defeat in GE14, while PAS became worse off compared to when it joined the now-defunct Pakatan Rakyat.

In the last elections, both parties had a combined popular vote of some 4.3 million out of 11.6 million registered voters.

Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who came out of retirement and formed the PH coalition to hand the BN coalition its first general election loss in 61 years, was listed as the fourth factor.

In fact, Ilham Centre pointed out that the so-called “Tun factor” was not even “reliable” in several states or regions as Dr Mahathir is only considered a catalyst and complemented the rejection of BN.

“Even though obvious protest could be seen among the Malay voters then during the election, voters in the rural areas remained steadfast and did not change their votes.

“In recent observations, the situation seemed unchanged and has even benefited the current Opposition especially over issues that the PH government failed to address at this moment,” it said.

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