DAP will find GE15 tough going as anti-Malay attacks mount, say analysts

(FMT) – After having it good in the past three general elections, DAP is expected to find the going tough at the next polls (GE15) as the political equation has changed, according to analysts.

They say the party’s toughest challenge will be to win the Malay votes in the semi-urban and rural areas because the narrative by Umno and PAS, that DAP is anti-Islam and anti-Malay, has traction with a large number of Malays.

And if the post-GE15 scenario is one that requires forming coalitions, they expect DAP to be the biggest loser since the Malay parties would most likely get together in the name of racial and religious unity.

James Chin of the University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute said DAP had never been able to shed its negative image among the rural Malays, who decide in at least 40% of the 222 parliamentary contests.

“The party should field more Malay candidates in Chinese majority or DAP strongholds,” he told FMT. “There is no point in putting Malay candidates in areas where they are going to struggle and are likely to lose.

“At the end of the day, DAP needs to increase the number of its Malay YBs. This is the only sure way of showing it is sincere in its claim that it is building to be truly multiracial.”

Chin said this would be an effective way of forcing the Chinese community to revise its view of political representation. “In Malaysia, there is this crazy idea that a community can be represented only by someone from the same ethnic group.”

Azmi Hassan of Akademi Nusantara said DAP benefited from Malay votes to some extent in the last general election because Pakatan Harapan had Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Muhyiddin Yassin campaigning for it.

“They made a lot of difference in attracting the Malay votes for PH,” he told FMT. “Now that they are in different camps, it will be hard for DAP to attract Malay votes.

“With Barisan Nasional, Perikatan Nasional, PAS and Gerakan Tanah Air all depending on Malay votes to win, 80% to 90% of the Malay votes are expected to be shared by these parties.”

Azmi said the only consolation for DAP might be that the new urban and semi-rural Malay voters aged between 18 and 30 would give it an advantage. He said many of these voters did not appear to be influenced enough by racial and religious rhetoric.

“But it will still be a challenge for DAP as it has to share these votes with new entrants Muda and Warisan. By extension, PH will be negatively affected by this as a whole.”

However, Sivamurugan Pandian of Universiti Sains Malaysia said he believed that any extensive attack on DAP using race and religion would only make it difficult for its rivals to win non-Malay support.

“The more educated voters tend to be less influenced by campaigns using religion and ethnicity,” he said. “They are more concerned with the rising cost of living, corruption and the weakening ringgit.”

He told FMT he expected DAP to retain most of its seats regardless of who its candidates would be.

As for the new voters, Sivamurugan said, their voting pattern would depend on the influence of family members and peer groups.

“They are also more knowledgeable on politics now with social media becoming their main source of information,” he said.