Similar narratives but different audience in GE15

Jahabar Sadiq

Syahredzan Johan is among the politicians climbing onto the back of a pick-up to deliver the Pakatan Harapan message to voters, in Bangi, on Saturday. – The Malaysian Insight pic, November 13, 2022.

THE narrative for GE15 takes off a bit from the previous polls that threw out the Barisan Nasional government. 

1MDB, Najib Razak, corruption and wastages that marked GE14 are the topics echoed in 2022 and even repeated by the same voices.

But the candidates are different and the audience too. They’re younger and want a better future, not dwell on the bitter past. 

The size of the audience too is far different than in 2018, when thousands braved rain, muddy fields and narrow roads to see a lineup of political heavyweights speak about change. 

This was clear last night in Bandar Baru Bangi, where lawyer Syahredzan Johan was making his electorate debut for Pakatan Harapan in the Bangi parliamentary seat. 

Replacing the popular Ong Kian Min in Malaysia’s biggest federal seat of 303,340 voters, Syahredzan had to speak about issues other than those of DAP’s Tony Pua, who talked about the years since PH’s improbable 2018 electoral victory. 

There were a few others who went on the back of a pick-up to speak but no top leaders came to pitch for Syahredzan. 

The Pakatan Harapan rally draws a respectable crowd of 250, in Bangi, on Saturday. – The Malaysian Insight pic, November 13, 2022.

The audience, a mixture of the middle-aged and young, wore skullcaps and headscarves. A sprinkling were in t-shirts and jeans. 

Like the Muda event in Tanjung Karang days earlier, this was billed as a mega ceramah or rally but a crowd of 250 was respectable enough. 

After all, the rally was just across an Isma office, the Islamist group with a strong presence in Bangi and whose former members are standing on the ticket of Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Gerakan Tanah Air. 

That hung heavily in the air and Syahredzan took great pains to explain that he remained a Malay and Muslim despite being a DAP member. 

He also stressed that the party supported Anwar Ibrahim – also Malay and Muslim – as the PH prime minister-designate. 

In a seat where nearly half the electorate are Malay-Muslims, those reassurances are more important than a vow to fight corruption or eliminate government wastages.

And in an election where the ethnic majority are more split than ever, with three of four coalitions explicitly saying they are there for the community, any Malay vote that the DAP candidate can secure is important for a win. 

Even more so in the last six days before voting on November 19. – November 13, 2022.

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