Political scientist Johan Saravanamuttu sent in the following after the Teluk Intan by-election.
I think Dyana did fine but was stumped by the lack of returning voters (related to voter turnout) which was a major factor – these will mostly be younger voters.
Kian Meng has got a detailed analysis here.
The Chinese swing was very significant – 15 per cent i.e. out of town young people did not come back to vote.
Second, she didn’t really tackle local issues. But DAP has pushed the envelope further with this foray.
Of course, some of the voters in a semi-urban place like Teluk Intan may still be captive to the usual dirty tricks (the hacking of Pakatan politicians’ phones, the distribution of dubious photos, the handing out of goodies); after all, many of them still don’t have access to alternative news and views in the online media.
But the DAP/Pakatan also has to figure out why so many out-of-town voters did not feel compelled to come back and vote this time around.
Was it because nothing much was at stake in terms of parliamentary numbers, no matter who won? Maybe a by-election doesn’t hold the same level of interest as a full-fledge general election, when the excitement in the air is more palpable.
Or maybe not enough of these out-of-town voters realised the breakthrough that Dyana might have made in helping to cast off race-based politics? Certainly, it was a commendable showing for this gutsy political novice, and she will have her day another time.
Were some of the Teluk Intan voters taken up with Najib’s visit to China, just as many voters across the nation were drawn to the BN in the the 1974 general election following his father’s triumphant visit to China that year? Najib’s visit to China, I am told, received extensive coverage in the Chinese-language press.
But could there be something deeper and more troubling for Pakatan – like Teluk Intan voters living and working in Selangor/KL growing a bit more disillusioned with the problems within Pakatan (Pas’ hudud gambit, the infighting within PKR, and the Big Capital inclinations of the DAP)?
Have voters grown a bit more disenchanted with the Pakatan’s inability to come up with an alternative pro-people development model that focuses on their basic needs (as opposed to the neoliberal system that results in greater inequality) – a model that would capture the imagination of the ordinary rakyat on the ground? A model that would uphold food security, affordable housing, universal health care (instead of medical tourism) …
Some introspection and reflection might be in order to learn from the lessons of Teluk Intan.