New voters make up one in five among Malaysia 13.1 million registered voters, with a total of 2.9 million registering between this year and 2008, when the last general election was held. This new breed of voters, armed with free access to information through the Internet and social media, will most likely be more demanding of the MPs who can relate to them through forward-thinking policies and not rely on the old politics playbook.
Zurairi AR, The Malaysian Insider
Both Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Rakyat (PR) need to present fresh faces in their lineup of candidates for this year’s general election in order to attract the rising number of new voters, say political analysts.
They agreed with arguments for both coalitions to drop veteran politicians who are waning in popularity and carrying with them political baggage, or risk a backlash from voters who are tired of underperforming and scandal-ridden MPs.
“It is a must for BN that they present a new line of candidates to replace the old ones who should have retired. If not it will stop the public from giving their support,” said Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) political scientist Professor Dr Jayum Jawan.
“For BN, the focus naturally will be on the states which are currently ruled by PR. We will see a lot of changes (in candidates) there, especially in Selangor and Penang,” offered Asri Salleh, political science lecturer at Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Terengganu.
New voters make up one in five among Malaysia 13.1 million registered voters, with a total of 2.9 million registering between this year and 2008, when the last general election was held.
This new breed of voters, armed with free access to information through the Internet and social media, will most likely be more demanding of the MPs who can relate to them through forward-thinking policies and not rely on the old politics playbook.
Both Asri and Jayum also agreed that unlike BN, PR’s list of candidates will need to be shuffled for the next polls because most of those who contested in 2008 were parachute candidates brought in from out of their constituencies.
Asri gave the example of PKR’s Balik Pulau MP Yusmadi Yusoff, who he claimed was one of the many idealists fielded by PR who had failed to warm up to the locals.
“The eyes of the public have been opened ... national issues, although still a big part, can no longer guarantee a party’s win. Candidates play a more important factor,” said Dr Azizuddin Mohd Sani, a political analyst from Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM).
Azizuddin pointed to the concept of “winnable candidates” which is constantly on the lips of BN leaders lately, signalling that candidates are now more prized for their ability to win seats rather than for their seniority and political clout.
He gave the example of former MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat, who he claimed is loved by his Pandan constituents but not by his party’s leadership, which will present a dilemma to the party in Election 2013.
Recently, Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Consultation and Corruption Prevention Panel chief Datuk Johan Jaafar had proposed that election candidates be vetted by the agency to ensure that they are “clean” from corruption.
With Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak throwing his backing behind the suggestion, many now feel that being cleared by the MACC will boost a candidate’s winning chance.
Therefore, Jayum urged BN to drop its veteran politicians, pointing out that they carry a lot of political baggage and will be under the scrutiny of the MACC, causing concern for members of the coalition.
“If they are not dropped, they will be liabilities for BN. If Najib is brave, he will replace them with new faces,” Jayum said.
However, Azizuddin and Asri disagreed, saying said that it will be hard to unseat veteran lawmakers who will still be kept by the coalitions, especially BN, since they carry with them immense political influence and support.
“When these old politicans are dropped, they themselves will lose their influence,” Jayum said, urging Najib to not fear sabotage if the old names are not picked to contest.
BN leaders contacted by The Malaysian Insider could not disclose the number of fresh faces who will contest in Election 2013, but promised that there will be new names in the candidates list which is currently being vetted by BN chairman Najib.
“In every election there must be new faces,” said MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.