It was pointless to write about this before Monday, when the workday begins.
Because over the weekend, it seems, not enough people chose to care about the Sungai Kandis by-election. Statisticians had to reach for their binders to locate when was the last time, less than half the voters came out to vote in a by-election.
Already, the theories are flying about why only 49% of the Selangor constituency nestled in the Klang-Shah Alam zone, wanted a ballot paper.
Some of them prove Malaysians do not lack an imagination.
1. The people did not vote because they were disappointed with Pakatan Harapan
Well, if they were upset, won’t the best way to articulate this would be to show up and vote against Pakatan? I mean, masses of dudes and dudettes pissed off with Pakatan, and here is their chance to tell it to Mahathir, Anwar and co. Why miss the chance to speak truth to power?
Because, they can do exactly what everyone outside Sungai Kandis who hated Pakatan were allowed to do last weekend, which was not to vote?
2. The people are upset that BN are out of power
If people love BN, the best thing they can do is to turn up and support BN, not give the election a miss. That or give more jewellery to the ex-PM’s wife, I can’t tell what is top priority in the Love BN Camp anymore.
3. The people are afraid to vote
Candidates should know they can lose an election, and that defeat is not the end of the world. But when they lose their mind, like the defeated Lokman Noor Adam, who claims the low turnout was due to fear, then you have to question his mental balance.
A vengeful Pakatan may freeze bank accounts and arrest objectors he said with a straight face.
4. PAS voters stayed home
The Islamic party asked its members to vote for Umno, and they just could not bring themselves to do it, so they napped longer on Saturday, like till dinner time.
There is some appeal to this argument, but two months earlier, PAS voters did listen to their leaders and voted for their party, but more importantly against Pakatan. The difference here is rather than a PAS candidate, they were asked to back Umno.
It can explain a lower than expected turnout but most certainly not this low a show.
5. It was the last weekend of the durian season
It was a choice between a durian fest or voting, and the king won. Believe it or not, it’s not the flakiest reason listed.
Don’t syok sendiri
Already, spin doctors are structuring the total vote count to the actual turnout in percentage, as per how it was in the general election.
So while PKR’s Mohd Zawawi Ahmad Mughni raked in only 15,427 votes compared to the late Mat Shuhaimi Shafiei’s 23,998 votes in May, it is still a good win because only half came out to vote. Mathematically, speaking.
While it is reasonable to prorate the votes to the turnout, the elephant in the room is the historic no-show rate.
Sungai Kandis sounds exotic, but it is not exactly Sungai Rajang. In terms of logistics, or residence. Many seats outside the main cities, especially Kuala Lumpur, suffer with by-election turnout because voters have to go back to their hometowns to vote. Sungai Kandis’ voters live there mostly, because it is in the Klang Valley, and therefore have low numbers of voters who need to trek back to collect their ballot papers.
The real take home from the election is that despite it being very important to both coalitions, Pakatan and Harapan, it was not as important to voters.
Too many of them did not care.
It turns the attention to the candidates and the coalitions. Even the average voter holds back his judgement on the federal government, for now. It’s just been three months.
But they were not overwhelmed by the candidates or the parties. Or they did not believe the election will change the state government.
There are many ways to look at it, but only half turning up is a loud wake up call for the parties. BN wanted to sell hate, and apparently the appeal is not widespread as BN is convinced.
Perhaps the lesson is foaming around the mouth spewing negativity about fellow Malaysians is out of fashion in #MalaysiaBaru. But neither is promising change, because we’ve had a government change already. Pakatan will continue to bleed its romantic appeal because they’ve won. Or hope to appease by putting a non-candidate in the form of a religious teacher, to stave off the Christian lovers’ label from Umno.
The voters might have wanted intelligence, potential and courage in the new era of reform. Before May 9, Pakatan had to cover all the bases because as government BN used ad hominem attacks as their core political faith.
But they have won, and BN has lost. The government is in Pakatan’s hands. Probably a decent number of people in Sungai Kandis wondered why Pakatan had to become ultra cautious, and compete with BN on their terms?
Sungai Kandis, is in Kota Raja, as is the other state seat Sentosa. Before it was reconstituted this year, Sentosa used to the the Kota Alam Shah seat. I say all these because in 2008 M Manoharan of DAP won the contest.
What was remarkable was that he won while being in jail. His wife campaigned for him, after Manoharan was arrested for the Hindraf protest four months ago. It was a divisive issue, the Hindraf movement, but the people of Kota Alam Shah (now Sentosa), next door to Sungai Kandis, fancy a bit of fire in the belly when it comes to candidates.
A man in jail won in 2008. In the adjacent constituency, ten years later at the height of reform euphoria, PKR put in a politically indifferent cleric with no charisma to give the appearance of being safe.
The quick summary is neither BN or Pakatan gave the politically lukewarm any sign of life, and as such, they ignored them.
Don’t bandy around the term MalaysiaBaru, when the only thing new about you is the fear of losing power. The cliche, fortune favours the brave, deserves to close this analysis.
That and possessing cojones.