Portraits of Malaysian Voters

Dr Bridget Welsh, Associate Professor at Singapore Management University

Dr Bridget Wels

For the upcoming election it is important to look at patterns of voting behaviour and voters to understand the election.

This was the remark made by Dr Bridget Welsh, Associate Professor at Singapore Management University, during her talk on “Portraits of Malaysian Voters” organised by Perak Academy in Syuen Hotel.

Welsh highlighted a variety of issues in understanding voting behaviour from gender to religion, pointing to the increasing complexity of voting. She said that these are fluid and have been changing over time. From her extensive fieldwork, survey and observation of past elections she said that based on ethnicity, voting behaviour of Malays is 48 per cent favour BN and 42 per cent favour the opposition. For the Chinese the figures are 20 per cent and 80 per cent and for the Indians 40 per cent and 60 per cent. She added that 49 per cent of voters are below 40 years and 25 per cent are below 30 years and these are the people who are going to determine the future of the country.

The household income inequality is widening and more households earn less than RM2,500.

The five most important issues in the forthcoming election are 1) Economy, which the people are worried about, 2) Corruption; 84 per cent believe the government is corrupted and 64 per cent feel the government is not abiding by the law, 3) Government responsiveness not fast, 4) Equality and 5) Urban/rural divide; crime is a main concern in urban areas and services in rural areas. As the election has not happened yet, it cannot be said what will be important this time round.

The voters are polarised and fragmented and there is fear of violence after the elections. She answered a question saying that personal scandals are not that important, but scandals connected to corruption have become important such as the NFC.

In the forthcoming elections many seats are too close to call and it is not easy to predict the winner.