Are Chinese returning to BN’s fold?

(Bernama) – While the Chinese appear to have voted in favor of Barisan Nasional (BN) during the Sungai Limau by-election on Monday, it cannot be taken for granted that the community’s political affiliations have changed at least for now.

Politicians and political analysts are cautious over this development and believe it is still too early to say that the Chinese are now returning to BN’s fold.

Moreover, the by-election sentiments are far different from the sentiments that the community face during General Elections (GE).

In the by-election, PAS won the Sungai Limau state seat when its candidate Mohd Azam Abdul Samat, 37, polled 12,069 votes while BN’s Dr Ahmad Sohaimi Lazim, 52, polled 10,985 votes.

However, PAS’ could only afford a 1,084 majority at its stronghold since 1995 compared with a 2,774 majority the recorded during GE13 in May due to lower voter turnout and with much of the Chinese votes going to BN.

Chinese based BN component parties namely MCA and Gerakan were quick to point out that the outcome from five polling stations – Simpang Tiga, Sg Limau, Kabu Sepuloh, Batu Enam Belas and Kampung Titi Batu – indicate that more than 70 percent of the 1,842 Chinese voters there voted for BN.

Is the tide turning in favor of BN?

Gerakan Deputy President and Kedah Gerakan chief Dr Cheah Soon Hai in elaborating further said 208 out of the 295 Chinese who voted in Batu Enam Belas chose BN. This mean 70 percent Chinese support for BN.

Similarly, in Sg Limau Dalam, 480 out of out of the 605 Chinese who turned out to vote opted for BN (79 percent) while in Simpang Tiga 204 out of the 285 Chinese who turned up to vote favored BN (71 percent).

“At all this three major polling stations, the total turnout are actually 1,185 with 892 of them voting for BN. The other two polling stations were not taken into account due to the small number of Chinese voters.

This is a stark contrast with DAP’s assumption during GE 13 on May, that the Chinese support for the PAS in the constituency is between 45 and 55 percent.

Is the Sg Limau by-election anything to go by?

Nonetheless, Dr Cheah noted that the turnout of the Chinese voters was also low as many young voters didn’t return home to vote and this has indirectly helped BN.

The young voters are the ones who voted in favor of PAS during GE13.

“Moreover, the BN machinery went all out to get the older voters with many returning from as far as Penang, Alor Setar and Sungai Petani to vote. This has helped us greatly,” he said.

As pointed out by Sin Chew Daily in its opinion piece on Wednesday, the Chinese vote swing favoring BN in Sg Limau probably has no significant impact on the political leanings of the Chinese at the state and country level.

Moreover, the number of Chinese voters in Sungai Limau is small and therefore even if 70 percent of them have voted for the BN, it was still not enough to reverse the overall situation,” the daily said.

Chinese not completely abandoning BN

DAP strategist and Member of Parliament for Serdang Dr Ong Kian Ming also argued that Sg Limau by-election is not a barometer to indicate the political leanings of the Chinese voters.

Moreover, Sg Limau is a predominantly Malay constituency with 93 percent Malay voters.

“If the Chinese made up 30 percent of the voters and it is an urban seat, then you can say that the outcome indicates that Chinese voters have returned to BN,” he said.

Gurun state assemblyman Dr Leong Yong Kong felt otherwise and said the national issues had taken the center stage in the by-election with both sides wooing the Chinese voters.

“We told the Chinese voters there that six million Chinese in the country are watching how they are going to vote. Though they might not like certain things, but at least they must show some appreciation,” he said.

Therefore, he argued to certain extend, the outcome could still be used as yardstick for the Chinese support for BN.

However, Penang based political analyst Datuk Cheah See Kian believed it is still difficult to gauge the exact political leanings of the Chinese voters nationwide just merely based on the Sg Limau by-election result.

“However, if the Sg Limau by-election’s outcome is anything to go by, the Chinese voters have not entirely abandoned BN. This is an important fact that both BN and the opposition (PKR-DAP-PAS) have to appreciate,” he said.