Who won Hulu Selangor? (1)

By Bridget Welsh

Despite the BN victory, the geography and ethnic breakdown of the victory does not suggest that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and BN are out of the woods. Quite the opposite is the case; the close Hulu Selangor by-election win of 2.7% shows that the BN is far indeed from regaining national and state power.

The main finding from the by-election results is that the electorate remains deeply polarised. The results show that there is no major national swing across races or generations.

Let me take you through my analysis of the results. Let’s begin with a bit of basics about this constituency. It is huge – with isolated communities, many with little connection to each other. The Chinese communities are comprised of 13 new villages and Chinese in the main town of Kuala Kubu Bahru. The Indian communities are concentrated in estates, with considerable number living throughout the constituency especially in the south.

Malays are concentrated in key rural communities, the Felda area of Ulu Bernam in the north to the eastern areas such as Sungai Buaya in Batang Kali in the south. The more east and south, the greater the level of development, as it is closer to Kuala Lumpur. The key exception is the lovely town of Kuala Kubu Bahru, which is comprised of small businesses and a large number of civil servants.

So what do the results of the 48 different polling stations tell us?

1. Every vote did count. Gains and losses were well distributed over the entire constituency. There are only a few areas where significant swings occurred. Most of the gains for the BN were in Batang Kali. The gains for the opposition were primarily in Kuala Kubu Bahu.

2. Ethnic voting is not consistent overall. No coalition won over one group consistently. Local dynamics did shape the contests. For example, Indian voters in Kerling stayed in Pakatan’s camp, while in other areas such as Ladang Nigel Gardner they moved. This was the product of ongoing concerns about land in Kerling, and the local efforts of the MIC in Nigel Gardner which included financial incentives of around RM300, for example. This was a contest about individual localities and the results confirmed this pattern.

3. Chinese votes show the most consistency. They swung on average over 5% to Pakatan Rakyat. This was most obvious in Rasa, where the BN’s promise of RM3 million backfired. A similar trend occurred in Kalompang. More Chinese voted, in part due to the high level of political campaigning in these areas from both sides and strong sentiment on the ground.

The BN remains unable to win over Chinese support, particularly through financial incentives. The MCA did not effectively deliver the Chinese votes, in part due to DAP’s strength on the ground.

‘Lots of promises’

4. Indian voters remained the most likely possible swing voters, as they moved in different directions in different localities. There is an overall slight return to the BN, but very small. Part of this had to do with the race of the candidate (one of their own). Part was tied to the heavy rewards for voting in some areas. Part was tied to which party has the strongest local machinery. No question, the campaign lacked the same level of passion of 2008 among Indian opposition supporters overall.

5. Malay votes did swing but only in certain areas. There was very little overall movement in the Felda area of Ulu Bernam. Movement toward the BN occurred largely in Batang Kali in the areas of Sungai Buaya and Bukit Beruntung. These were areas where the Umno machinery was well-oiled and the BN engaged the issues of land.

Lots of promises were made to resolve outstanding concerns. The overall pattern does not suggest a convincing swing toward Umno or the BN. Gains were small, usually less than 5%. Low voter turnout was focused in Malay areas, which reinforce the pattern of limited reengagement of the BN with the Malay ground.

6. The localised Malay swing was decisive. The swing in the Malay voters in these two localities were arguably the most important factor in the results in that they comprised an estimated quarter of the voters in the BN majority. The movement in the Chinese areas was the second most important factor.

7. Younger voters voted primarily opposition, including new voters. This pattern was across ethnic groups, but most striking among Malays. This follows the traditional generational pattern in 1999 and 2008. There were very few new voters registered in this area, which suggests that new voters are not registering – another national pattern.

8. Voters did not come home in large numbers. The number of those stationed outside who returned to vote was lower than in 2008 and this contributed to lower voter turnout particularly in the Malay areas. It also contributed to the loss for Pakatan. The police handled the movement of voters and traffic professionally on voting day.

9. The Election Commission factor did not decisively affect results. The movement of voters to other schools made for some confusion and there are reports (estimated less than 100 of voters who could not vote at all), but this did not prove decisive to the final results.

Ground remains competitive

10. No consistent urban-rural divide. While there were gains for the opposition in the town area of Kuala Kubu Bahru, and the BN won most of its returned support in the rural areas, the diversity of the pattern of voting suggests that the semi-rural periphery remains highly contested and winnable for both sides.

So, what is the national upshot here? Let me begin with a caveat – it is important to remember that one cannot read too much from one constituency and contest. This constituency, however, offers diversity to allow for broader national indications, yet it was unique in its size and proximity to Kuala Lumpur that added even more intensity to the level of political engagement.

This said, the key finding is that the Malaysian electorate remains highly polarised within ethnic communities and across generations. While the passion of reformasi has ebbed, the core loyalists to both sides of the political terrain remain firm.

The middle ground was less inspired this time round, in part due to the nature of both the campaigns that did not draw voters to the polls clearly and convincingly. In short, the ground remains competitive for both sides.

As we look to the next national polls, ethnically, the BN has the slight advantage nationally, but generationally the opposition is favoured. In the final analysis, BN’s slim margin does not speak of substantial changes in voting behavior.

DR BRIDGET WELSH is associate professor of political science at Singapore Management University. She can be reached at [email protected]

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Friday, 30 April 2010 - 6:32 pm

    Ultimately? Everyone loses even the UMNOputras and BNputras that stole and continue to steal and then run away to foreign land – they have lost their soul, the opportunity to be better and worthwhile human beings.

    Letter from Malaysikini of which hundreds of thousands think the same.

    The only thing left to do is to emigrate
    Apr 30, 2010
    Umno preaches that all non-bumis are in essence competitors, rivals, threats or enemies of the Malay-Muslim state. It is useless for non-bumis to say that they have been here for over three generations, that they have sacrificed blood, sweat and tears for the country. The fact remains if you are not Malay-Muslim, then you will never be treated by Umno as an equal citizen on merit.

    They will never estimate you on your merit but on your ethnicity. If you are a non-bumi, your efforts will always be devalued, or worse, feared, and reviled. Umno fixes a mask on my face that I can’t remove and which guarantees scapegoat status as a non-bumi Malaysian citizen

    I don’t have the power to say who I am to the Malay-Muslim community as Umno controls all its media attack dogs like Utusan Ugut. Unless Umno succeeds in demonising the non-bumis to mobilise Malay Muslim votes, then it will lose the next general election, and it’s ultimate source of political power

    The important thing about political power in corrupt immoral oppressive Third World regimes such as Malaysia is that political power is the source of obscene wealth for Umno’s political elites. Raping the rakyat is the entire point of winning elections in corrupt resource rich third world countries

    There is no point for Umno leaders to strive for political power if they can’t steal any more of the rakyat’s money. It is pointless to expect any Umno political leader to reform. It is ridiculous for Perkasa to say that the Chinese and Indians are threatening Malay rights. Non-bumis are systematically excluded from public university places, jobs, promotions, business licenses and government contracts

    I believe the non-bumis to Umno are merely a captured constituency, a colonised peoples, a defeated community. I often think to myself that Umno wishes to construct the greatness of the Malay people in the mass media upon it’s ability to restrict the material choices of the non-bumis in terms of education, jobs, language freedoms, cultural freedoms – where else except Malaysia can the idea of Ketuanan Melayu with it’s tuan/hamba dynamics, and implicit racism and race supremacy gain such traction and currency for 50 years ?

    Any success by the non-bumis will be twisted by Umno and depicted as yet another example of non-bumis cheating, non-bumis depriving Malay-Muslims of their rightful inheritance, and non-bumi skulduggery. The swing back to Umno in recent times merely goes to show that in the fight between truth and power, it is power that usually wins it

    The only thing left to do is to emigrate. As Malaysia sinks into a quagmire of apartheid, injustice, racism, oppression, and frenzy of witch-hunts and non-bumi scapegoat-ing, what else is there left to do ?

    If the average Malay cannot see through Umno’s brainwashing, if they really predicate their greatness as a people on their power to restrict the material options, and cultural choices of others, then Malaysia is finished. The spirit of Merdeka will be lost, and we will have forgotten the dreams and hopes that powered this country to independence in the first place.

    The only winners will be obscenely rich and corrupt Umno elites, and everybody else, bumis and non-bumis will be the greatest losers. If Umno wins the next elections, it will only have vindicated the collective decision of every Malaysian who ever emigrated abroad for the sake of their children

    The fate of malaysia was always in the hands of the non-Malays. I believe Umno will win the next general elections with all the resources at it’s disposal and Umno’s immorality and hate will be simply too powerful a force for the good to overcome in 1-Doomed-Malaysia. Syabas to everyone!

  2. #2 by monsterball on Friday, 30 April 2010 - 6:44 pm

    The Hulu Selangor by-election result and how Najib won…with all the details ..and arguments…for and against have all be said.
    Clearly seen is more than RM100 million spent on he election by Najib…who have just given another RM3 million he promised to give..to build a new Chinese school.
    There are so many promises made by UMNO BARU past and present leaders.
    Lets see Najib be fair..and truthful…by fulfilling all promises made…all over Malaysia and not just Hulu Selangor.
    Focusing on Hulu Selangor only…..proves that it was an act with selfish ulterior motives…by Najib…to buy the Felda settlers votes…and the RM3 million to the Chinese school…is some sort of advertising promotional funds…for Sibu Chinese to see.
    Winning by a 1725 majority is a failure…..based on all the advantages he has under his power to swing votes.
    Zaid had more votes as compared to the previous result….without spending one sen to buy any votes.
    Take that to compare,….Najib actually failed miserably.
    Lets see the Sibu results later.

  3. #3 by HJ Angus on Friday, 30 April 2010 - 6:48 pm

    I will only argue with #9.
    Voter turnout was quite low and I wonder how many decided not to return home as they did not know which polling station they were supposed to vote?

  4. #4 by Bunch of Suckers on Friday, 30 April 2010 - 7:12 pm

    Look! BN/UMNO won the election without even care with analysis seriously. “Tidak Apa” is their attitudes as Millions can be spent to bribe more voters in the futures…

    Surprisingly, it is the works of DR BRIDGET WELSH, an associate professor of political science at Singapore Management University, did the analysis and report!!!

    Hopefully, I think PR has really investigated, analyzed and charted convincingly. Otherwise, it can never march into Putrajava in the coming year….

  5. #5 by yhsiew on Friday, 30 April 2010 - 7:58 pm

    Malaysiakini reported that some Orang Asli, who did not receive the RM100 reward from BN after casting their votes, made a police report (despite being warned by BN). One of these Orang Asli claimed that many of his friends had already received the cash reward but he got nothing.

    The HS by-election was indeed a true blue BUY-ELECTION!

  6. #6 by lkt-56 on Friday, 30 April 2010 - 10:43 pm

    …ethnically, the BN has the slight advantage nationally, but generationally the opposition is favoured.

    Her conclusion seems to suggest that the mindset older generation is still communally biased which is not surprising as they have been subjected to a very long period of racially biased political indoctrination.

    PR has the wisdom to see that the way forward for Malaysia is to take Malaysians away from more than 50 years of communalism forcing BN to counter with their 1Malaysia. However they very cunningly allowed groups like perkasa to voice out their extreme views in order to gain additional votes from the Malay voters by capitalising on their fears of being like the Malays Singapore. A favourite weapon of TDM.

    It will be an uphill struggle for PR’s Middle Malaysia. And for PR leader Anwar Ibrahim, it will mean being humiliated (sodomy II). But I take comfort in the fact that PR’s leader remain steadfast in their collective will to break BN’s stranglehold on power.

    The future looks bright!

  7. #7 by cseng on Friday, 30 April 2010 - 11:34 pm

    Who won HS? Plenty, Samy won Tunship!, Palanivel won Senatorship! and CSL still working for his Ministership.

    HS back into HS, Kamal-Alan-Nathan back into Kamalanathan, election comes and goes. Analysis done! conclusion drawn! with annotation of past performance does not guarantee future performance.

    Yesterdays became history and tomorrow still a mystery, today is all you have… and today is all about Sibu! and hopefully Sibu will be tomorrow that we look forward to!

  8. #8 by monsterball on Saturday, 1 May 2010 - 12:22 am

    #3 wants to argue with # 9.
    How can he sees the future?
    Chengho is having diarrhoea …feeling sick or what?

  9. #9 by atlk on Saturday, 1 May 2010 - 1:05 am

    if we are to achieve 1Malaysia, such statistics that shows which races voted for which party should be abolished!! all the votes papers shouldn’t contain any details at all besides the party logo.

  10. #10 by wanderer on Saturday, 1 May 2010 - 10:27 am

    If UMNO-BN was prepared to spend RM100mil to capture a MP seat in HS…this will be used as a pointer for potential Frogs in PR as a bargaining power!
    Their tails are wagging and their tongues curling around their mouths…PR watch out for these political prostitutes!

    Eunuch Chengho, more side dishes for you…earn your haram money as a BN political pimp la, you creep!

  11. #11 by frankyapp on Saturday, 1 May 2010 - 12:49 pm

    Who won Hulu Selangor ?
    It’s a pretty good question and my answer is the cheaters and corruptors won it.

  12. #12 by Joshua on Sunday, 2 May 2010 - 8:48 am

    Malaysiakini reported that some Orang Asli, who did not receive the RM100 reward from BN after casting their votes, made a police report (despite being warned by BN). One of these Orang Asli claimed that many of his friends had already received the cash reward but he got nothing.

    The HS by-election was indeed a true blue BUY-ELECTION!”

    Would this be the reliable bullets for the Zaid’s election case?

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