BN will scrutinise electorate’s voting pattern

Zubaidah Abu Bakar


Zubaidah Abu Bakar, The Rakyat Post

WHILE DAP winning Bukit Gelugor is all but certain, the most pertinent issue for the ruling Barisan Nasional is the electorate’s voting pattern.

How members of the BN partners vote will be closely scrutinised by political watchers as the voters’ voice will allow them to gauge whether Penang Chinese support for the ruling coalition had dipped further since the 13th General Election (GE13).

The coalition members’ performance in the last general election, with the exception of Umno, had slid further, enabling DAP to tighten its grip on power.

MCA and Gerakan — the two Chinese-based arms of BN —  were completely wiped out, for the second consecutive general election, last year.

Their losses were devastating with the vote majority in wins by DAP and Parti Keadilan Rakyat doubled in many seats.

Will members of BN parties, particularly MCA, which opted to stay out of the Bukit Gelugor race, vote for Ramkarpal Singh or will give their votes to either one of the three other candidates?

Or will they spoil their ballots or abstain from voting altogether since BN also did not endorse any candidate?

An increase in spoilt votes and/or low voter turnout from among BN members could be read as protest votes, especially if they involved MCA members.

MCA members in the constituency are said to be unhappy that its central leadership, under Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, decided not to field a candidate from the party —  a move they think as a missed opportunity since the by-election is a platform for MCA to show its former supporters that the party is fighting back.

How the BN bloc of voters vote will also determine whether Ramkarpal can match the exceptionally high majority collected by his late father Karpal Singh in GE13 or, even surpass party comrade Teresa Kok, who retained her Seputeh parliamentary seat by defeating BN candidate Wong Siaw Ting by 51,522 votes in last year’s general election.

DAP leaders are also banking on more support from those who did not vote for the party in the last general election to help secure a crushing victory for Ramkarpal to spark a momentum for the May 31 Teluk Intan by-election.

DAP's Ramkarpal Singh with Parti Cinta Malaysia vice-president Huan Cheng Guan and independent Mohd Nabi Bux Mohd Abdul Sathar.
DAP’s Ramkarpal Singh with Parti Cinta Malaysia vice-president Huan Cheng Guan and independent Mohd Nabi Bux Mohd Abdul Sathar.

The late Karpal polled 55,839 votes to score a majority of 41,778 votes against BN’s Teh Beng Yeam. And by most counts, DAP’s challenge in tomorrow’s by-election is only to match the majority.

MCA and Gerakan members had been known to abandon their parties and contribute to the massive margin of victory secured by the late Karpal Singh in the predominantly Chinese constituency.

Given the anti-BN sentiment that is still strong among the majority of Chinese voters in Penang, it is unlikely there will be a major shift of votes from the DAP.

The only setback is that DAP is staring at the possibility of a lower voter turnout than the 86% recorded in GE13. Should this happen, it will affect Ramkarpal’s performance.

The Election Commission expected a voter turnout of between 76% and 78%.

Some votes from BN component parties may go to Parti Cinta Malaysia vice-president Huan Cheng Guan, the candidate alleged by certain quarters to be “BN’s preferred candidate”.

Huan had categorically denied talk that he is the BN-sponsored candidate.

Such talk continued to haunt his opponents since his campaign is not only seen as “ala BN”, but was most active and systematic on the ground compared to the other two independents, Mohd Nabi Bux Mohd Abdul Sathar and Abu Backer Sidek Mohammad Zan.