Do you feel like a lab rat every election?
You should. Look at the analysis provided by media outlets.
Every seat, every contest is broken down by race, and race alone.
To be fair, the alternative media is constrained by resources and also ex-mainstream media staff adept at one way of doing it, while the government run media want to sustain it around race and when necessary, overplaying the race card.
Ordinary people only discuss using the information provided and the focus adopted by the characters (political leaders) in this moral play often referred to as the election, the people end up phrasing the contests, their contexts and the equations which produce victories in those terms.
The media insists it is race alone, the politicians on both sides agree and sledge on about race, and the voters end up only looking at things in the shape of races.
If you are raised and conditioned to be a hammer, all situations look like nails to you.
Be careful how post-election data is interpreted. Especially since those interpretations of the last elections and the elections before them which form the basic conversations about the current contests.
This column has said before, race is a major factor in our elections, but it is not the only factor.
Gender, age, language, educational background and urban/rural are major factors often ignored.
They are factor as in how the voters prioritise issues and also how they perceive the candidates.
Two Chinese blokes
For example, let’s look at the battle for Teluk Intan.
Incumbent Mah Siew Keong is 56 and pretender Taiping MP Nga Kor Ming is 45 — now descends on the flood-prone parliamentary seat.
Nga can’t expect to ride on massive youth appeal because of his divisive politics bent on maximising Chinese votes of all hues. Age won’t hamper Mah as much in appealing to non-Chinese youth.
Mah is a multiple UK postgraduate while Nga is a local graduate, from Universiti Malaya’s law school. Both will back Chinese education till the Perak coast and leap into the water rather than betray the cause.
While Nga’s Ayer Tawar hometown is only 70km away from Teluk Intan and in the same state, Mah is a local boy finishing secondary education in Horley Methodist School.
The Ayer Tawar man is a devout Christian, and with the current campaign to paint DAP as a evangelical party can damage Nga’s multicultural credentials.
While Nga has never lost in an election before, and appears to be a superstar in DAP as far as Perak is concerned, he is now venturing into Mah’s home turf.
Mah has lost before, and even if he only won by 258 votes in the 2014 by-election against a novice Dyana Sofya, he may get a leg up now from PAS voters who are less inclined to Nga.
Nga is a far more divisive figure than the last DAP winner in Perak, the late Seah Leong Peng. Even M. Manogaran who beat Mah in 2008 is a better moderate candidate than Nga.
This will be about a question of how committed are Teluk Intan voters to reform versus being cautious and carrying on with a minister.
Mah will rely on the moderate brand, as does his party Gerakan, which most often appears ineffectual.
Nga, has to worry about his brand of divisive politics not pulling enough support from all the other demographics in the seat.
What will be interesting would be to examine how women will vote for either candidates or not, this election.
What you get
Teluk Intan is a battle for the hearts and minds of the Chinese. They have turned to Mah in 2014, and there is every chance to expect they will stay that way.
In repeat. How the various parts beyond race operate is not told. There is a lack of nuance and explanations of the interplay of factors.
Instead, we are told voters are the function of one demographic which is race, and since it has been repeated as such over time immemorial, it becomes the way so many of us describe politics.
Perhaps the start comes from more counter-narratives. Not to agree, but to colour things up.