KOTA KINABALU: Leaders from both sides of the political divide in Sabah are worried that the nationwide “spoilt vote” campaign (#UndiRosak) launched by certain quarters appears to be gaining traction in the state’s interior districts.
They said the campaign seemed to appeal particularly to voters in their 20s and 30s ahead of the 14th general election (GE14).
State DAP publicity secretary Phoong Jin Zhe said social media influence was a key reason for the campaign to have taken hold in districts like Tenom, Keningau and Pensiangan.
“Our members in these areas are telling us that this is what the younger voters there are talking about and they seem determined to carry it out,” said Phoong, who is DAP Socialist Youth’s (Dapsy) national strategic director.
“We are not sure why this is happening, but a key reason may be that younger Kadazandusun Murut (KDM) voters in these areas feel frustrated with the choices before them in this election,” he said.
Phoong also confirmed that the move to make former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad the leader of the Pakatan Harapan (PH) opposition coalition was one of the reasons for the dissatisfaction among young Sabahans.
“We hope the voters will look beyond the leaders and think about the policies that we are offering.
“In some countries people are still fighting for that right to make a choice. Please don’t waste the opportunity,” he said, adding that Malaysians must appreciate their right to choose a government
Phoong warned that the “undirosak” campaign would only strengthen Barisan Nasional’s (BN) chances to win seats where there are multi-cornered contests.
Meanwhile, Liawan state assemblyman Sairin Karno, from Sabah Umno, said although the campaign was only appealing to a small number of people for now, there was a risk of it growing.
“The fact that it is appealing to a minority is worrying enough. We have to make sure this sentiment does not spread,” said the assistant state minister for agriculture and food industry.
He said votes had been intentionally spoilt before, such as in Keningau during the last general election in 2013. He said it was due to some people among the indigenous communities not wanting to offend anyone.
“During the campaign, they are met by the various candidates. They promise to vote for all these candidates and that is exactly what they do,” he said.
“I met a man after he voted who told me he put an X beside all the names in the ballot. When I asked him why, he told me all the candidates had talked to him and (he had) promised them his support,” Sairin said.
“He told me he marked all the names as he did not want to disappoint them.”
Yesterday, Prime Minister Najib Razak described the “spoilt-vote” campaign as an action that went against the democratic system practised in Malaysia.
He said the negative campaigning approach to GE14 should not have been made because Malaysians should be given the right to determine their choice of government.