KUALA LUMPUR: About 95% of Chinese voters chose Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the May 9 general election, more than the 85% who supported the now-defunct Pakatan Rakyat coalition in 2013, the Straits Times (ST) reported today.
However, only 25-30% of Malays voted for PH, the report added, citing figures from Merdeka Center. It said 35-40% of Malays voted for Barisan Nasional (BN) while 30-33% supported PAS.
The report said although a higher percentage of Malays voted for PH in Johor and in west coast states such as Melaka and Negeri Sembilan, PH’s overall Malay support was pulled down by its weak performance in Kelantan and Terengganu.
About 70-75% of Indians voted for PH, the figures show.
The paper warned that the split in Malay votes would have major implications in future elections as PH, BN and PAS fight it out for their support.
It quoted Merdeka Center’s research manager Tan Seng Keat as saying that while many traditional BN supporters were unhappy with former prime minister Najib Razak and his goods and services tax, they did not trust PH, either.
This was because some Malays believed PAS and BN propaganda that PH was controlled by the Chinese-dominated DAP.
“Propaganda indoctrination over all these years cannot change in just a few days of campaigning, even with Dr Mahathir Mohamad there. For them, Umno is a Malay party, a Muslim party. They feel safe,” Tan told ST.
The report, quoting analysts, said the split Malay vote meant that PH leaders must tread carefully in framing issues deemed sensitive to Malays if they wanted to gain their trust.
And Umno and PAS would try even harder to woo the Malays by using the familiar baits of race and religion, they said.
This, according to the report, could be seen in the Malay backlash over PH’s appointment of non-Malays as finance minister and attorney-general (AG). DAP’s Lim Guan Eng is finance minister while Tommy Thomas has been appointed as AG.
Analysts also cautioned PH against any “fast moves into sensitive areas”.
ST quoted Amir Fareed Rahim, an analyst at the KRA Group political consultancy, as saying: “If PH continues to push through what is seen as a ‘liberal’ agenda such as demonising royals, if Umno is not ready in five years, Malays will go to PAS.”
The report noted that several Umno and PAS leaders had said the two parties should work together against PH.
Umno Supreme Council member Tajuddin Abdul Rahman recently said: “This combination (of Umno and PAS) will be able to challenge the government and its supporters who have been insulting Malays and Islam lately.”
But, the daily reported, political scientist Wong Chin Huat of think tank Penang Institute, had a different take. He believes about 20% more Malays will always support the government of the day.
“I would therefore believe PH will now have about, if not more than, 50% support among the Malays post-election,” he told ST.