A SMEAR campaign against DAP is having little effect on Selangor’s Malay voters even as Umno and PAS ratchet up their vitriol against the Chinese-majority party ahead of the 14th general election.
A study by two academics among 1,943 Selangor residents found that only 24% believed the statement that “if Pakatan Harapan were to win the general election, DAP would rule the country”.
The anti-DAP narrative is currently being used by Umno and the Barisan Nasional coalition it leads in their quest to regain Selangor, which has been ruled by first Pakatan Rakyat and now, PH, since 2008.
PAS is also vilifying DAP despite the fact that the latter’s non-Muslim supporters helped it win new territory in Selangor in the 13th general election.
DAP is part of a four-party PH coalition. PAS is leading a separate opposition bloc called Gagasan Rakyat Sejahtera.
PAS, PH and the BN are likely to contest against each other in seats in Selangor and the rest of the peninsula.
“The results of our study show that many Malaysians are knowledgeable and not easily taken in by such campaigns,” one the study’s authors, Dr Latif Ibrahim, told The Malaysian Insight.
“Many Malays realise that Chinese voters only comprise 23% of the populace and that only DAP is led by the Chinese. The other three PH parties are helmed by Malays,” said Latif who conducted the study with Dr Mazlan Ali.
Both are with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia’s (UTM) Kuala Lumpur campus.
The study surveyed Malay voters in two state constituencies, Hulu Klang and Gombak Setia, both of which are under the Gombak parliamentary seat. The seat is held by Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali.
Face-to-face surveys were conducted between March and May among 996 Malay voters in Hulu Klang and 947 in Gombak Setia.
They were asked to respond to the question: “I believe that if Pakatan Harapan wins the next general election, DAP will rule the country”.
Latif said the responses from the two areas were almost similar. About 31.2% believed the statement was irrelevant.
Of those who agreed, 6.1% said they “strongly agreed” while 18.8% said they “agreed”.
About 23.7% said they somewhat disagreed while 20.2% disagreed.
“The results are representative of Malay voters’ sentiment in the peninsula, especially those in urban areas and suburbs,” said Latif.
Hulu Klang is represented by Saari Sungib from Amanah, a PH party, while Gombak Setia is held by Hasbullah Mohd Ridzwan of PAS.
As of the March 2016 voter roll, both seats have a total of 101,600 voters, an increase of 9,000 voters from GE13 where 92,421 voted.
In the 2013 polls, Saari defeated Abdul Rahim Pandak Kamarudin from BN by 2,881 votes. The seat’s voters are 80% Malay.
Hasbullah defeated BN’s Said Anuar Said Ahmad by 1,681 votes. Gombak Setia’s voters are 77% Malay.
Both areas are considered PAS fortresses. The Islamist party’s old base in Taman Melewar used to serve as its headquarters before it moved its office to Jalan Raja Laut in Kuala Lumpur.
PAS, which holds 13 seats throughout Selangor, is currently part of the Selangor government together with PKR and DAP. In 2015 it decided to cut ties with PKR and DAP, and has announced that it will contest against its former allies.
DAP currently holds 15 state seats, PKR 14, BN 12, while Amanah has two.
Umno and PAS are using the anti-DAP narrative to win over Malay voters as there are 11 months to go before the mandate for the federal government expires. A general election must be called by August 2018.
Both parties are attempting to play up fears that the country will be ruled by a Chinese prime minister from DAP if PH wins. The constitution is silent on the prime minister’s ethnicity although by convention, the person is a Malay Muslim by the fact that Malays make up 68% of the population.
PAS’ leaders repeatedly lambasted DAP at its recently concluded Fastaqim 2.0 mega-rally in Kuala Terengganu where the party officially launched its political coalition and election machinery.
PAS Youth chief Mohamad Khalid Abdul Hadi once accused DAP of being driven by Christian Evangelicals who want to turn Malaysia into a secular country.
Umno leaders, such as its president and Prime Minister Najib Razak and Supreme Council member Mohamad Hasan, have in the past claimed that DAP is pulling the strings in PH.
Najib’s aide Tengku Sariffuddin Tengku Ahmad alleged that DAP was using former prime minister and PH chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad to repair its reputation of being anti-Malay and anti-Islam.