Shifting non-Malay votes, low turnout could cause upset in Kuala Kubu Baharu

Ravin Palanisamy

There are more than 40,000 registered voters in the Kuala Kubu Baharu state constituency. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, April 16, 2024.

THE Kuala Kubu Baharu (KKB) by-election will not be a walk in the park for DAP, which has held the state seat since 2013, political observers said.

They warned the seat could see an upset on May 11 if there is a decline in non-Malay support for Pakatan Harapan or a low voter turnout. 

Ilham Centre executive director Hisomudin Bakar said a continued trend of Malay voters backing Perikatan Nasional also could hurt DAP’s chances.

“DAP could suffer a narrow defeat with a projected low turnout of 65% and if the shift of Malay and youth votes to PN remains high,” he told The Malaysian Insight. 

“It is possible that the non-Malay voters who are living outside the area will not return to vote. 

“If the local residents do not vote, this could see the percentage of votes for DAP decline,” the political analyst added. 

The seat in Selangor fell vacant following the death of its three-term DAP assemblyman Lee Kee Hiong on March 21 after a battle with cancer. 

Polling day is on May 11. Nomination is on April 27 and early voting, May 7.

Indian voters are deemed to be the kingmakers in this seat.

The KKB constituency has a mixed electorate of 50% Malays, 30% Chinese and 18% Indians.

According to the electoral roll, there are more than 40,000 registered voters in KKB. 

Hisomudin said KKB polls could see a shift in the Indian votes to the opposition. 

“For the Chinese, I don’t see a shift in their support from PH to PN but for the Indian voters, the likelihood of a shift is higher,” he said. 

Hisomudin said Indian support is “fragile” at the moment, noting that the shift in the votes was evident in last year’s six state elections.

He said that based on Ilham’s research, Indians were not satisfied with the government. 

“This is because under the current government, they feel that their rights and welfare are not a priority. 

“The increase in the prices of goods and job opportunities for their children are among major concerns of the community,” he said. 

A news report recently indicated that DAP requires at least 60% of the Indian votes to win.

The Kuala Kubu Baharu constituency has a mixed electorate of 50% Malays, 30% Chinese and 18% Indians. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, April 16, 2024.

Malay votes matter 

Hisomudin said non-Malay voters are concerned about the performance and achievements of the unity government, especially on issues related to the economy, prices of goods, citizenship rights and issues of race and religion.

“DAP is in a dilemma because it cannot stand out like it used to because it is now part of the government.

“Its issues with Umno-Barisan Nasional parties have not fully subsided. All of this will play a role in influencing voters,” he said. 

,James Chin at the University of Tasmania said Malay votes will play a pivotal role determining the winner.

He said Umno Youth chief Dr Akmal Saleh’s recent stunts will not swing the Malay votes to DAP.

“My guess is that Akmal has overplayed the Allah socks issue. It led to people throwing fire bombs (at KK Mart stores),” he said.

“Even the Malays realise that things are becoming more and more political,” he said. 

Chin said the PH candidate can win KKB as long as he has the non-Malay votes.

“It is a question of how many Malay votes he can get. I understand that the previous assemblyman got a minimum of 10% Malay votes.

“If the Malay votes drop, I believe even Umno will blame Akmal for it because he has played a very high risk game.” – April 16, 2024.

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