Abnormally High Percentage Of Silent Voters

March 04, 2008
By Jamaluddin Mohammad

KUALA LUMPUR, March 4 (Bernama) — With three more days to polling on Saturday, there is an abnormally high percentage of silent voters, estimated at between 35 and 40 per cent of the electorate, in most parts of the country in this general election.
Political analyst Assoc Prof Dr Mohammad Agus Yusoff said the figure was almost double the average of about 20 per cent of silent voters in any general election. “Ground assessment showed that they have not made up their minds for reasons best known to them.
“They are still assessing the government’s performance, the country’s leadership, efforts to combat corruption, integrity of the judiciary apart from the bread-and-butter issues such the rising cost of living and crime index as well as the opposition’s side of the story, he said.
He noted that the increase in the number of silent was obvious in all states except for the Malay belt of Kelantan, Terengganu and Kedah where most of the voters have made up their minds on where to cross their the ballot papers, leaving only a small percentage of fence-sitters.
“You can see the mood on the ground. As many as 35 to 40 per cent of the voters are still indecisive on who to cast their votes for. They did not show which side they are on,” he said.
Dr Mohammad Agus said that although Barisan Nasional (BN) could easily win and form the federal government after March 8 and even control a two-third majority, the silent voters were crucial in determining the number of remaining seats to be won and the overall majority.
“Silent voters could make or break some election results,” he said.
Contesting political parties and candidates had a tough time in the next three days in swaying the votes to their respective camps, he said.
Another political analyst, Assoc Prof Dr Mohamed Mustaffa Ishak said the silent voters would normally wait until the eleventh hour to decide. “They will evaluate the mood and momentum on the ground before jumping on any of the bandwagons,” he said.
Therefore, he said, the persuasion strategies of the contesting parties and candidates played a very significant role in convincing them in the next three days. Dr Mohammad Agus said the Chinese and Indian voters should also not be taken for granted in this election as they could be the deciding factor, especially when the Malay votes are split between the BN and the opposition.
He said the Chinese and Indian votes would be crucial in Penang, Perak and Selangor but not to the extent that their votes could decide which party would lead the respective state governments.
As the Indian votes in Sabah and Sarawak were very insignificant, the Chinese voters were expected to follow the voting trend of the peninsular Chinese voters, he said.
“There are indications that as much as 70 per cent of the two communities’ votes would go to one particular side in those states,” he said without naming the side. Johor, Melaka and Negeri Sembilan would remain as the BN strongholds regardless of the political, economic and social developments in the country, he said.
He said political parties and candidates should also take note of the presence of 25 per cent of young voters out of the 10.9 million voters in this election as they too could influence the results.
There was still ample time for contesting parties and candidates to make the difference, he said.