Teluk Intan by-election: What went wrong for Dyana Sofya?


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.

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Dayana is an investment by DAP. Come next GE more Malay youths will vote for DAP!


Dyana has awakened the Malays especially the students at UiTM so much so that Umno will have to do lots of damage control in the coming months at UiTM campuses. A big move by DAP to capture the hearts of young Malays, including me.

Stylo Logan

Teluk Intan folks voted for development?
Soon they will realize that development will mean losing their land that they have been living on as squatters! Also high price of housing.
I leave it to tunglang and Yang to elaborate the ills of development that they could not stomach in Penang island.

Don Anamalai

Ha ha. The ball is now on the courts of tungalng and Yang to response to this interesting issue on development. Maybe they could advise the Teluk Intan folks their experience in Penang?


I agree with the analysis that Dyana lost because lots of young folks did not return to vote. Right after PR’s Bukit Gelugor massive victory, and the big ceramah with 10000 audience, people got overconfident. And so the young folks did not go back to vote.

Pak Tim

I short, TI folks are shortsighted.


Bowen, you forgot to mention a crematorium and wedding hall to the local Indian community if BN wins the seat. There could have been another by-election if EC have decided to act on Zahid’s violation during the Teluk Intan by-election: “We are seeing an admission that Zahid violated Section 5 of the Act. It means that he could be imprisoned up to one year and RM3,000 and if convicted can even trigger a by-election in Bagan Datoh,” said former Bersih committee member Wong Chin Huat. But we know that would never happened in this Bolihland! It’s sickening to see that… Read more »

Frank Lau

There is a group of Chinese younger/new pakatan rakyat representatives promoting American dictated democracy, in Malaysia and some even wanted it to be planted all over Asia, I personally felt it is a dangerous trend and it offended me. We don’t want these stooges spoiling our struggle for real democracy. Their act is offending more and more Chinese voters who are better informed than these stooges.


There is no such thing as real democracy. Thailand has Royalist controlled democracy just like American White dictated democracy. How can there be real democracy when you won even though you have a majority of 1 or slightly more than 50% vote. In such case the 2 candidates must be represented in Parliament but with only half voting power and half salary.


It is amusing to read some of the comments here, including Anil’s own conclussions. Sitting in their comfy armchair and reading the syiok-sendiri analysis by pro-Pakatan alternative media, many commentators are blissfully ignorant of the reality on the ground. The slick marketing of Dyana and the carefully orchestrated ceramahs by PR only served to add to this delusion. How on the earth that Dyana is even considered as a credible candidate is beyond me. Anyone watching her in media conference and ceramahs would have immediately spotted that she was merely mouthing the scripts handed out by her minders in DAP.… Read more »

Don Anamalai

Be careful with politicians that never stumbled as he/she could be too experience to twist and turn facts to fool the rakyat.

We could trust the innocence of Dyana, despite her lack of experience.

Stylo Logan

Experienced politicians are more likely to bluff his way to convince you!
We have seen many examples of BN leaders doing this in Teluk Intan.


In the 2013 PRU13, the turn out rate was 80.6 % whereas it was 70 % in 2008 General Election. Factors that could have contributed to lower turn out from outstation voters in this by-election are:
1.The ubah factor was missing in a by election
2.Some voters believed or were misled to believe that DAP was sure to win without their votes
3.Some voters have become disillusioned by politics in general or Opposition politics. If so, why?
4.Some voters have planned their overseas holidays earlier as the polling day fell during school holidays.

Jason Yen

Well look at carefully DAP does not live in fresh air and sunshine. It needs some money to run its machinery. However DAP should take into consideration and should be prudent taxing the people. Lim Guan Eng has done quite well but there is also room for improvement. There should consider setting cheap mobile medical care especially in the rural areas and also how to take care of ones health. How to take care of heart, kidneys, eyes etc. Short video clips in the mobile van will educate the public. The DAP medical van will provide some exposure. I am… Read more »

Sunny Ooi

So easy to comment after the fact. Only Yang got it right this time.


The BSM bibles seizure by JAIS was handled very badly by MB Khalid. Water issue is a debatable – I personally think MB Khalid did fine though some disagree, and some of those who did not return to vote may have been in the latter group. Aside from water, the bibles and hudud, there is what Anil pointed out – PKR infighting, and DAP’s Big Capital inclinations (so evident in Penang and the land reclamation projects for instance). Look also at KIDEX, and how MB Khalid is acting more like how an UMNO-BN would have acted. It is very worrying… Read more »


“after all, many of them still don’t have access to alternative news and views in the online media” I find that comment a bit disturbing and untrue considering the fact that almost everywhere in Teluk Intan is connected either via wired or wireless broadband services. Teluk Intan is not that backwater of place. Trust me, I am from the place. Furthermore, why is it the fault of the Teluk Intan’s voters rather than probably the mistakes by the DAP leadership in fielding Dyana? While I was initially intrigued by her choice, I was later honestly dismayed by her performance; she… Read more »


BN has been doing such “visionary” move for many years?

Yes, the vision of Umno is very clear, get MCA, Gerakan and MIC candidates to be (servile) to the ketuanan melayu.


Yes, MCA, MIC and Gerakan are all turut perintah Umno – in order to get the contracts(?) They dare not ask Umno on its position on Hudud.


There too many Solomon’s Progeny out there with the power of clairvoyance. If its hudud, you Pakatan infighting, then DAP would not have done that well in Bukit Gelugor. I would say the main reason is the failure of the immature young voters to read into the significance of a DAP win. But the win or lose does not make a summer. Fact, this a by-election and also a buy-buy-election. Remember, DAP had to fight not only BN but also the colluding EC. I reckon there (could have been) padding of the last three ballot boxes brought for counting. A… Read more »


Here we go again, another blame on EC and paddling of boxes.
Are all the DAP & PR supporter sleeping


If PR does not blame then Umno blame non bumis for ingrates, unfaithful, they make money out of others, the government knows who they are voting, she is a traitor to her community.


Teluk Intan loss a good lesson for OVERCONFIDENT Kit Siang and Guan Eng

Full article:
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Don Anamalai

We must also ask what has Mah done right. Mah outsmarted most of the Chinese voters by distancing himself from Umno that carried out the ‘dirty deeds’ during the campaign. Mah only appeared hand-in-hand with Shahrizat and Tengku Adnan after the announcement of his slim victory.

Notice also Wee KS of MCA only came out to claim credit after the results, talking of how MCA helped to swing 15% of Chinese votes.


But when mah is doing his job as a minister, bet umno will remind him how he landed in this position. W/o the Malay umno postal votes, mah will be.nothing. Mah has to be obedient … to his master.

Ed G

Bravo! With his victory, MSK can now take his fight against the Hudud to the Parliament or even the cabinet level, should he be appointed as a minister as promised. He can now speak his mind on the Hudud issue with greater confidence and vigour given that he has the peoples’ support behind him.

Andrew Yik

Perhaps DAP can put her under some exposure with Dato Sabri, MP Raub

Andrew Yik

Has DAP assisted Dyana enough to win the seat???
It is not just from the tactical strategy of putting a Malay in a Chinese is not just arranging many
and huge ceramahs for many other pakatan speakers…public comment is Dyana’s manisfesto was weak,
the speech she give is too brief and harping on same issue, has Dap strategists assisted her in these areas so that she can be presented as a more experienced speaker and cover a larger domain
DAP has to think deeper on these aspects…

Don Anamalai

One would also argue that Dyana’s manifesto is quite simple: reject Politik Perkauman.

This is a simple seed planted in Teluk Intan, it should flourish in a few years time, eventually be used to great advantage by Pakatan in PRU14. By then possibly more young malay professionals will come up to campaign for Pakatan and DAP.


The door may be temporarily shut for Dyana at Teluk Intan, but many windows are open elsewhere for people to realise that we should reject racial politics of BN.


LKS said if only 400 voters come back, they will win. excuses.
You don`t need 400 LKS. You only need 120 and a half to come back and win by 1 vote which Hadi said it is a win anyway.


Democracy triumphed, if all went as it ought to be in any election, i’d like to feel a sense of optimism and hope that Diyana brought forth.which is that , the GEN-Y of today across ethnicities, but especially from the one community that has been taken for granted for so long, psyches enslaved by institutionalised indoctrination, , have wised up,and like Diyana , from relatively unknown persona , can find a voice loud enough to defy the arrogant kleptomaniacs, Diyana inadvertently became an iconic representation of the youthful energy that if harnessed collectively, can sweep away what meek resistance the… Read more »


I have disagree with you on this bro anill. Things that have gone up in Penang i.e. Housing,goods(different price for different race),spare parts for vehicle(mainland offer much cheaper price for same item,if parts price increased by government,why the significant difference in Penang only,where else same item cost cheaper in mainland,due to high living standard in island, don’t think so.Who increased it.Like awang ali said,Penang can;t offer high pay job)hawker foods(BN increased oil price,not for 1 plate of char koey teow.I paid RM6 for it after Chinese new year at Relau,not against fellow Chinese friends but it’s true)indians restaurant and mamak… Read more »


Tables and chairs by the hawkers are actually not allowed to be placed by the roadside, side walks and open space but the MPPP and enforcement during the BN Gerakan period usually closed one eye and let these poor fellow cari makan. Today its different. What Awang said is true. The DAP government is money face. They (allegedly) charge the hawkers for the number of tables place on sidewalk, open space and road sides which is why hawkers need to charge more for their food.


This Ong Kian Meng is really talking crap. Read this; ““In this earlier statement, I outlined two possible scenarios – one more positive, one more scenario – under which DAP would win or lose this seat. Unfortunately, the more negative scenario came to pass.“““` I can also give you an analysis. You want it. There are 2 possible scenarios. Its either BN win or DAP lose or another twist and crap from Dyana DAP & Anwar. “`I am not against hudud but I am against hudud implementation.““ What is all these talking nonsense. Excuse, excuse, excuse and lots of twist… Read more »


Najib and his UMNO-dominated BN were at its ugliest, with various government agencies doing their compliant kow-tow best to close one eye, or maybe both. But still, these are the 3 highest points in my mind: Pakatan needs to speak with one voice. PAS took the hudud bait that BN poked at it some weeks ago, and despite the pre-existing agreement not to raise such issues, has not stopped pushing and pushing for hudud in Kelantan. Further fanned by some within its ranks into hudud for ALL, with some of its folks going as far as to wave “Hudud for… Read more »

Don Anamalai

The poor handling of water crisis and bible seizure issue by PKR-led government in Selangor has reduced the confidence of Teluk Intan folks towards Pakatan?


Umno us trying to undermine, sabotage the state government. I just what langat 2 has to do. Langat 2 is water treatment plant but the dams are dry … What can water treatment does its job if the dams are dry?


Gerakan promised a lot in this by-election to the Teluk Intan folks, if the janji is not tepati in the next one year, BN will suffer the backlash from that 10% who is giving them a 2nd chance.

Teluk Intan is a semi-rural constituency where young and educated are mostly working in outstations. The 10% is hoping that the BN development could stem such outflow to contain the young ones in their arms. The older folks failed to realise thst voting for BN has actually dim the future of the young generation.


Mah is counting on ‘rakyat Judah lupa’.
Anyway, many Teluk Intan residents are going after Gerakan for post by election goodies. Mah is nowhere to be seen now.

Peki Ku

I have nothing but praise for Dyana. She fought a good race. She was brave, courageous and outstanding . Given the chance she will be a great MP in the future.What can I say about the voters in Teluk Intan. They could not see the bigger picture and settled for the present moment what they could get out of it. Also the greatest fear among the Chinese is hudud. They felt betrayed by PAS after voting for them in the last GE13. All these needs to be addressed before the coming GE14 election. Anyway, Dyana, don’t give up. Keep going.… Read more »


I agree it is not Dyana’s fault. She did well but DAP in general needs to buck up. Teluk Intan is a small town with a lot of rural areas. Why are you campaigning on national issues like GST, TPPA, transparency that 90% of folks there won’t understand. The party was the one who let her down by sticking to their usual strategy which is out of touch with rural folks. Rural folks want to know how these national issues that DAP talks about will affect their lives directly. They want to know how much better their lives will be… Read more »


What choice do they have. They knew they were going to lose