Civil service pay hike among drivers of Pakatan’s KKB win

K. Kabilan

Notably, the vote increase for Pakatan Harapan could be from security service personnel who support Barisan Nasional, which stayed out of this by-election in favor of PH. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, May 14, 2024.

JUSOH, a veteran member of the security services, voted for Perikatan Nasional (PN) candidates in the 2022 general election and the Selangor polls held last August.

However, in last Saturday’s Kuala Kubu Baharu (KKB) by-election, his vote went to the Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate.

He is not the only one from the police and military services to have switched sides. According to early statistics, there was a significant jump in support from these uniformed personnel to the PH candidate.

Political scientist Wong Chin Huat said the KKB polls showed a new trend that was in stark contrast to the 2023 state polls.

He said in a Facebook post that police support for PH jumped from about 26% to 84% while military backing also increased from 16% to 54%.

According to Malaysiakini, in 2023, police voters cast 388 ballots for Perikatan and just 119 for PH. In the Saturday by-election, police personnel gave 249 votes to PH while 47 voted for Perikatan.

As for military votes, PH received 84 votes this time around, compared to 27 votes in 2023 while Perikatan’s support dropped from 142 to 71 votes.

For context, there were 625 police and 238 military votes up for grabs in the by-election.

Notably, the vote increase for PH could be from personnel who support Barisan Nasional, which stayed out of this by-election in favor of PH.

For Jusoh, his decision to vote for PH this time is obvious – the federal government’s decision to give civil servants a pay hike.

“With the ever increasing cost of living, the announcement by the prime minister of a pay hike is good news for me. I think I should show my support to them for doing this,” said Jusoh, who did not want to reveal his name and service.

“I think many of the uniformed personnel who voted in KKB felt the same as me with the pay hike. Why not vote for the government if they are doing something good for us?” he told The Malaysian Insight.

This sentiment is quite obvious with other civil servants who also voted in KKB.

Ramanathan, a teacher from KKB, said that his fellow teachers had spoken about the salary hike announcement being a factor in how they would vote.

“The announcement came at the right time. If some of us had any doubts, I think the pay hike announcement clinched it for us to vote for PH,” said the secondary school teacher, who also refused to be identified by his full name, as teachers are prohibited from speaking to the media.

The by-election on Saturday saw PH/DAP candidate Pang Sock Tao (pic) winning with a majority of 3,869 votes by beating PN/Bersatu candidate Khairul Azhari Saut. – The Malaysian Insight pic, May 14, 2024.

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim announced on May 1 that civil servants will enjoy a salary hike of more than 13% starting December this year – the highest increase in the nation’s history.

The increase would involve an allocation of over RM10 billion.

With the increase, the minimum income for civil servants will exceed RM2,000 per month. Currently, the overall minimum income, which includes salary and fixed allowances, is RM1,795 per month.

Older voters backed Pakatan

Three days later, when Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari launched the rebranding of the KKB district library on May 3, many of the KKB-based civil servants in attendance were happy to talk about the pay hike.

They said such a pay hike was a long time coming, especially for the lower-ranked public servants, adding that it would definitely push their support to the PH candidate in the by-election.

Wong also agreed that Anwar’s 13% pay rise for civil servants “have begun to pay back”, especially looking at the support from the uniformed services.

Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail also concurred, being reported as saying in Malaysiakini that the shift in uniformed votes was the result of the “government’s efforts to guard the well-being of security forces”.

Political analyst Mazlan Ali, meanwhile, said the switch could also indicate the civil servants’ confidence in the policies of the government.

“Under Anwar, investor confidence increased and, at the same time, the quality of service and the welfare of civil servants were given more attention,” he has been reported as saying.

The by-election on Saturday saw PH/DAP candidate Pang Sock Tao winning with a majority of 3,869 votes by beating PN/Bersatu candidate Khairul Azhari Saut. Pang garnered 14,000 votes, followed by Khairul with 10,131. 

Two other candidates – independent Nyau Ke Xin (188) and PRM’s Hafizah Zainuddin (152) lost their deposits.

Although early analysis of voting trends indicate that PH had made some gains compared to Perikatan, the general support for both PH and PN, however, remained at status quo.

PH saw a slight increase in voting percentage, bagging 57.2% of the votes compared to 54.4% in 2023.

PN’s vote share also improved from 39.3% to 41.4%.

A significant reading into the larger support for either pact is not definitive, especially with the lower turnout in the by-election, which was at 61.51%, down 7.7% from 2023.

Selangor government think tank Institut Darul Ehsan (IDE), in its analysis, stated that the turnout of voters aged 41 and above exceeded more than 60%, while young voter turnout was less than 55%.

It added that PH won the support of voters aged 41 and above – 41-50 (58%), 51-60 (52%) and above 61 (65%), while Perikatan won the support of voters aged 40 and below – 18-24 (63%), 25-30 (65%) and 31-40 (59%).

Total voters in the by-election was 40,226 while it was 40,015 nine months ago. – May 14, 2024.

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