By Election in Malaysia: A Study of Voting Trends in Kedah

By Zakaria, Zaherawati; Hussin, Zaliha Hj et al. | Studies in Sociology of Science, June 1, 2011 | Go to article overview

By Election in Malaysia: A Study of Voting Trends in Kedah


Zakaria, Zaherawati, Hussin, Zaliha Hj, Noordin, Nazni Bin, Sawal, Mohd Zool Hilmie Bin Mohamed, Studies in Sociology of Science


1. INTRODUCTION

Bukit Selambau was near to Sungai Petani. It was a normal area, with wide open spaces, and agricultural landmarks such as small farms owned by local residents. The composition of races was balanced; not one race was more dominant than others. However, to those living in the area or near it, Bukit Selambau was always referred to as an Indian territory. The number of registered voters for the N.25 Bukit Selambau by-election, information on the voting place as well as channels, statistics of the registered voters of N.25 Bukit Selambau and the percentage of races (as depicted on the 18th of February 2009) can be seen in

Table 1.

A total of 15 candidates contested in N.25 Bukit Selambau's by-election and this included women. From the 15 candidates, 13 were independent candidates (Suruhanjaya Pilihan Raya, 2009). A total of 874 security officers were reported to be placed in various places on the day of the naming of the candidates of Dewan Undangan Negeri (DUN) Bukit Selambau at Sekolah Menengah Teknik Satu, Sungai Petani. Based on the observation that was done at the naming of candidates center, it was estimated that the were 12,000 supporters of the PR that were made of supporters from PAS, KEADILAN and DAP that were vehemently supporting their candidate S. Manikumar, and this overcame Barisan Nasional's (BN) supporters that were made of around 5000 people. This scenario had indirectly shown that the results of the by-election later on may not change at all, in which it may be in the PR's favor as it was in the previous PRU12. Judging from the situation here at Bukit Selambau, the people were still in the political tsunami even though one year had passed.

The scenario and behavior of the PR's supporter were more extreme and fanatical than those from BN as they had heated up the setting by playing musical instruments such as gendang tabla by the Indians and the Lion Dance by the Chinese supporters from all over the country. The researchers had the chance to interview a representative from the KEADILAN, Encik Samy from Bera, Pahang who was very confident that PR would win again in the Bukit Selambau's by-election. According to him, BN was no longer relevant as they were involved with national issues such as bribery and ISA detainees. Moreover, according to him, the Indian and Chinese do accept that the concept of ketuanan Melayu but not with the BN's unfair treatment towards all races.

Supporters from PR, BN, and independent candidates had filled the streets as early from 6.00am. Some had brought signs, slogans, mottos, and there were some who wore masks of Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and other leaders that they supported. The presence of a helicopter itself had attracted a lot of attention. Based on what the researchers had seen, the younger generation was more supportive of the PR in which they had the tendency to be more aggressive than BN's supporters.

N.25 Bukit Selambau's by-election had made its mark in the nation's political history with 15 candidates contesting. The question was who had the potential to win? Judging from the determining factor as well as the silent majority, a vocal local Indian candidate was chosen by People's Coalition (PR), Barisan Nasional (BN) as well as some of the independent parties as their strategy even though the percentage of Indians were 29.5%. Even though the Malays made more than 50.2 % of the registered voters in Bukit Selambau, their votes were distributed among the three main parties which were PAS, KEADILAN and UMNO. The number of Malay votes was not the deciding factor to a candidate. There was not much to be hoped by BN in Bukit Selambau as long as the Malays were still divided in the by-election (Harian Metro, 2009).

2. WHY DO THE PEOPLE OF BUKIT SELAMBAU VOTE?

Aside from interview sessions in areas of Bukit Selambau, the observations had also yielded an answer to why do the people vote.

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