Selangor Journal
Flags of Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional positioned at a residential area during the Penang State Election, at Balik Pulau, Penang, on August 2, 2023. — Picture by BERNAMA

State polls’ results not referendum against Unity Govt — Emir Research

By Danial Dzulkifly

SHAH ALAM, Sept 18 — The results of the six state elections last month should not be misinterpreted as a referendum of the Federal government, according to think tank Emir Research.

In an analysis published today, its chief executive Rais Hussin cautioned against generalising the polling results as a reflection of national sentiment, pointing out the potential misrepresentation of such a narrative, especially when driven by political agendas.

While a huge portion of votes which went to Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional (BN) in the 2018 state election have switched to Perikatan Nasional (PN), there is no real evidence of a green wave happening, as is suggested.

“By no means should we overinterpret the (voting) patterns, especially in the context of the whole of Malaysia.

“For this reason, the state election cannot be viewed as a ‘referendum’ on the current administration, even though certain quarters would like us to believe otherwise, just as they want to convince everyone the association with Harapan is damaging for BN,” he said in his analytical piece titled Six State Elections 2023 Analytics and Reflections, published today.

Contrary to this narrative, election data has shown that BN did not perform as poorly in the state elections as many had expected, despite its electoral decline over the last few general elections.

“When we compare BN’s vote share in the 15th General Election to that of the 2023 state polls, we can observe a stark difference, particularly in localities with a 60 to 80 per cent Malay majority,” Rais said.

The increase in support for BN in these constituencies suggests the association with Harapan had given the Umno-led coalition an unexpected boost.

“Therefore, if anything else, Harapan-BN now needs more constructive integration, as it is beneficial for both,” he said.

Rais added that while Umno lost about two-thirds of the seats contested in the six states compared to the previous state election, the Malay party’s performance remained relatively steady, showing no significant deterioration compared to data from the 14th General Election.

In the recent state polls, the Unity Government coalition comprising Harapan and BN emerged victorious in Selangor, Negeri Sembilan, and Penang, while PN secured victories in Kedah, Kelantan, and Terengganu.

Three voters displaying their index fingers coated with indelible ink, after casting their ballots during the 15th General Election for the Ampang Parliamentary seat, at the voting centre in SMK Dato’ Ahmad Razali, Ampang Jaya, on November 19, 2022. — Picture by FIKRI YUSOF/SELANGORKINI

A divided Malaysia

The recent results of the state elections also indicates Malaysia remains divided due to nativist politics and identity issues.

He said the fact that most victory projections could have been modelled so well by his think tank, especially along the ethnic differences, should be concerning.

“This means Malaysia remains as divided as ever, if not more; sorrowfully, when it needs unity the most due to the seriousness of the challenges it faces, given geo-politics and geo-economics,” Rais said.

The crux of the issue lies in politicians emphasising racial and religious undertones for their own advantage, and many Malaysian voters still make choices based on these factors.

“This suggests that Malaysia’s political scene, including its leaders and voters, is not yet fully developed.

“Some leaders rely on identity politics of race and religion instead of creating effective policies, while voters do not always consider the character and integrity of potential leaders or the complex issues facing the country.

“Too often, harmful and divisive rhetoric is accepted without thought, like a child eagerly accepting a can of candies,’’ he said.

Voters lining up to cast their ballots for the Selayang Parliamentary seat during the 15th General Election, outside the voting centre at SJK(C) Selayang Baru in Selayang, on November 19, 2022. — Picture by HAFIZ OTHMAN/SELANGORKINI


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