Is BN Slowly Winning Over The Chinese?

KUALA LUMPUR, March 28 (Bernama) -- An analysis of the recently concluded Kajang by-election indicate the Chinese voters may be returning to Barisan Nasional (BN), though the number may be small.

While the Chinese overwhelmingly voted for the opposition in the 13th General Election in 2013, the subsequent by elections - Sungai Limau in November 2013 and Kajang in March 23, 2014 - provide a glimmer of hope for BN in winning back the Chinese voters.

Having said that analyst and political observers cautioned that the outcomes for the GE and by-elections were different ball game. Also many attribute the increase in Chinese votes for BN during by-elections is due to the lower turnout that in fact reduced the Chinese votes for the opposition.


As for example, the Chinese voters in Sungai Limau totaled 1,836 from the 27,000 voters. However, with only 1,185 Chinese turning out to cast their ballots, 75 per cent of the votes went to BN.

Similarly in Kajang by-election on March 23, the support from Chinese voters for BN indicated an increase from 18 to 25 per cent, despite the Chinese voter turnout dropping by 20 per cent.

The comparison on number of votes received by BN in the five predominantly Chinese area polling stations between GE13 and Kajang by-election indicated that BN received extra 321 votes this time around while PKR's portion was reduced by 1,351 votes.

However, does this increase indicate a growing support for BN?

In the by election, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) President Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail secured 16,741 votes defeating BN's Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun who secured 11,362 votes.


Overall, the turnout among the voters were much lower - a reduction by 16 per cent has directly impacted the level of support for both candidates.

However, Gerakan affiliated think tank Socio-Economic Development And Research Institute (SEDAR) explained the by-election outcome could not be used as the yardstick for the support among the Chinese voters as their voting trend wee different in by-election as compared with GE.

"The increases in Chinese support is an isolated event, does not reflect the real sentiments. As for example in the Tenang by-election, Chinese support towards BN increased yet this did not favour BN in the 2013 General Election," said SEDAR's executive Director Ivanpal S.Grewal.


He said in order for MCA and Gerakan to win convincingly, both need at least between 30 and 35 per cent of Chinese support, 65 per cent Malay support and 70 per cent Indian support.

Therefore, MCA and Gerakan still have a long road to go as they need to understand the Chinese community better as their political outlook is more sophisticated and they are very discerning.

He also explained based on the think-thank's studies, the Chinese view by-elections as insignificant compared with GE where every vote counts to affect change.


Despite of the improvement in the vote count, political analysts and observes remain sceptical that more Chinese are seeing BN in a favourable light.

Even in the Kajang by-election, where 41 percent of the voters are Chinese and more urban, it is still too early to say that the Chinese voters are slowly returning to BN.

"What happened in Kajang by-election is not like how we predicted, the support being between 18-20 per cent. Now it has go up to 25 due to the many efforts put up by MCA. However, when you talk about Chinese returning to BN, it is still too early," explained Chief Executive Officer of The Centre for Strategic Engagement (CENSE) Fui K.Soong.

She said the past three by-elections after the GE indicated that most of the younger voters and those working outstation who were hardcore supporters of the opposition did not return to vote and the older voters tended to support BN.

And this explains why more Chinese votes went to BN.

"The last three by-election has not given us any conclusive evidence that the Chinese voting pattern has shifted in favour of BN. The status-quo remains, not just among the Chinese voters but also the Malay voters," she said.

Previously, a study by Centre for Democracy and Elections at the University of Malaya (UMCEDEL) also indicated that the Chinese voters would return home from urban areas for the General Election and influence their family members to vote for the opposition.

Perhaps, as pointed out by former MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, there is no point in harping on a negligible change in voter sentiment from a particular community".

"I wish to see that more Chinese vote in favour of BN. At the end of the day, we still have to look at the hard facts," he said.





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