V Anbalagan, TMI
Former Higher Education Deputy Minister Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah (pic) lost his Temerloh parliamentary candidate due to massive swing from Chinese voters who were persuaded by their children to go for change.
Universiti Malaya Centre of Democracy and Election (UMcedel) director Professor Datuk Dr Mohammad Redzuan Othman said the Chinese thought that Pakatan Rakyat would capture Putrajaya.
"The voters were convinced of the Ubah slogan and that is why they voted for the PAS candidate.
"One of them said we have to follow what our children ask us to do," he told a news conference to reveal the outcome of a UMcedel focus study in that constituency.
He said the seat was relatively safe for Barisan Nasional (BN) as it also consisted of two Felda settlements and an army camp.
"Saifuddin could not have lost because of his stature," he added.
However, he said, many regretted not voting for Saifuddin after BN was returned to power.
Saifuddin polled 27,197 while PAS candidate Nasaruddin Hassan Tantawi garnered 28,267.
He said young voters, some from outstation, returned to cast their ballots for Nasaruddin, who won with a 1,070-vote majority.
The opposition also won two of the three state seats in the parliamentary constituency.
A total of 850 respondents were interviewed over three days from May 31 for the study.
Redzuan said Temerloh was selected as it was a multi-racial seat with 64 per cent Malays, Chinese (24 %) Indians ( 9 %) and others ( 3%).
Redzuan said interviews also revealed that public acceptance of Saifuddin, an Umno Supreme Council member, was about 60 per cent and many did not know the PAS candidate.
"They also did not support Saifuddin because of his party, Umno," Redzuan said.
In an immediate response Saifuddin, who was present at the seminar, said about 7,000 outstation voters returned to cast their ballots and this contributed to his defeat.
"The study is extensive and I accept the finding as it is," he told reporters.