Poor turnout at by-elections a wake-up call for EC: Analyst


BANGI: Behind the jubilation of Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) double victory in the Balakong and Seri Setia by-elections yesterday, many quarters are concerned by the trend of low turnouts at Malaysian polls.

The 43 per cent turnout registered by the Election Commission (EC) for the Balakong by-election was the lowest in the country’s history.

Close behind was the percentage of voters for the Seri Setia by-election, which stood at 44 per cent.

The Sungai Kandis by-election on Aug 4, meanwhile, recorded a turnout of 49.4 per cent.

The lowest turnout record of 46 per cent was previously held by the Penanti by-election in Penang in 2009.

According to Universiti Putra Malaysia political analyst Dr Syed Agil Syed Alsagoff, the trend may be influenced by various factors which should not be viewed lightly by the EC.

“I think an evaluation should be carried out and the EC should look hard at the issue to overcome the problem in future by-elections.

“Similarly, political parties should work harder to entice voters to come out,” he said.

However, Syed Agil said that the phenomenon would not have long-term implications for the PH government.

PH managed to secure a big win in Balakong despite being attacked by MCA over the failure of the PH government in fulfilling the promises of its 100-day manifesto, the re-introduction of the Sales and Services Tax (SST), and others

It showed that the strategy of its opponents was not effective.

Syed Agil said this proves that voters are generally mature in evaluating the country’s position and not easily swayed by political play.

He said it also shows that the rakyat still has high confidence in PH.

Syed Agil said the presence of Pas’s secretary-general in the Balakong campaign also did not benefit MCA.

“In Balakong, the presence of Pas could have turned off MCA supporters due to the long-standing differences between Pas and MCA, causing them to protest by not voting,” he added. -- Bernama © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd