There was a notable increase of support for Pakatan Harapan (PH) in both Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar among Malay middle class and young voters, according to a post-mortem of the twin by-elections led by PKR secretary-general Rafizi Ramli.
On the other hand, the study also showed decreased Malay support for Pas, and status quo for Barisan Nasional (BN).
It said BN managed to retain its support among Malay voters, at 59% in Kuala Kangsar, and 60% in Sungai Besar.
“People missed the point that despite the massive money being spent (allegedly RM400 per person distributed, more goodies and projects offered) and the persistent racist and religious attacks on Harapan/Amanah/DAP, Umno could only maintain the status quo.
“When we contrast this against all the weaknesses on Harapan’s part, should we improve this (in normal circumstances), a 2-3% Malay swing in semi-rural seats like Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar is possible in the next general election,” said Rafizi, who conducted the stream-by-stream analysis.
The recent by-elections in both constituencies saw BN winning with bigger majorities.
Both the PAS and BN candidates have also set their eyes on the Malay vote bank, with PAS making its push for hudud a central theme in Malay-majority areas.
Rafizi, who earlier expressed regret over the opposition’s defeat, said the initial shock was due to the fact that PH failed to decrease support for BN candidates despite issues such as GST, 1MDB, Tabung Haji, Mara and the revelation of Datuk Seri Rosmah Mansor’s jet scandals during the campaign period.
The study also showed decreased Malay support for Pas, at 26.6% in Kuala Kangsar and 30.6% in Sungai Besar.
Rafizi said this percentage would have been smaller had PKR contested the seats.
“In other words, while PAS may think they had won the day because they had the second highest share of Malay votes; they are definitely retreating and sliding towards the pre-2008 position,” he added.
Rafizi said PH’s Malay support at 9.5% in Kuala Kangsar and 8.6% in Sungai Besar was expected, as Amanah was a new party.
He, however, conceded that the results were a wake-up call for the opposition to consider one-to-one fights with BN.
“While the defeat was a wake-up call to concentrate on one-to-one contest with Pas, it is also a confirmation that it was not a rout nor has the public abandoned Harapan.”