The KT boomerang

Interpreting the Chinese Malaysian vote

So, if fewer voters turned out to vote this time round, as was the case, this may have cost PAS some potential votes. Especially since out-of-town Chinese Malaysian voters who did not make it back for the by-election would most likely have supported the opposition.

By Wong Chin Huat, The Nut Graph

PERHAPS the most puzzling question in the recent Kuala Terengganu by-election is this: why did enthusiastic Chinese attendance at Pakatan Rakyat rallies not translate into votes? I personally saw Chinese Malaysians cheering, laughing, and clapping for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim every four minutes throughout his 40-minute "da ren, xiao ren" (great mind, little mind) speech at Ocean Restaurant.

The MCA was the first to claim that Chinese Malaysians have in fact increased their support for the Barisan Nasional (BN). You can sense their excitement and pride: "We have held our ground!" That Malay Malaysians have swung away from Umno perhaps adds to the joy.

However, it was probably a nightmare for the DAP, reminiscent of the overwhelming crowds attending the party's rallies in Penang in 1995, which nevertheless translated into a loss of all but one of its state seats. Learning from this mistake, the DAP measured its support in the 2008 general election by donation and not by mere attendance. After all, if you put money where your mouth is, you have got to be serious about your support for a particular party.

And donate the voters did in Kuala Terengganu. Not only to the DAP — still the brand name Chinese Malaysians in towns like Kuala Terengganu identify with — but also to Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), which received ang pows from voters. While bank notes are good, votes are the real currency in elections. Where did Chinese Malaysian votes go?

Whither the Chinese vote?

Umno did secure more Chinese Malaysian votes in all the four polling districts with a Chinese majority or sizeable Chinese minority.  Umno even increased its lead in Kampung Cina — the polling district with the highest percentage of Chinese voters, 84.67% — by 61 votes. Umno's share of the votes increased by 2.20% based on the total votes garnered by the BN and Pakatan Rakyat. Votes for Umno grew by 4.06% based on all votes cast — for the BN, Pakatan, and independent candidates, as well as spoilt votes.

But that's all the MCA can boast of.

Find out where the votes went: