PETALING JAYA: Several “last-minute own goals” which took place in weeks and days before polling day on May 9 led to Barisan Nasional’s shocking defeat in the 14th General Election, said an opinion research firm.
Merdeka Centre programme director Ibrahim Suffian said these goals included the then government’s move to table the redelineation motion and the enactment of the Anti-Fake News Act 2018.
The other factors included the deregistering of Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia by the Registrar of Societies (RoS), the mid-week polling day, announcements of tax relief for young voters and increases in cash handouts.
“All (of this) probably pushed undecided voters to the brink and brought them out in droves early in the day,” Ibrahim said in a column published on The Malaysian Insight on Monday.
Ibrahim added that Parti Rakyat Sarawak president Tan Sri James Masing’s move to sack Datuk Joseph Entulu and several other senior leaders also led to a revolt among Bidayuh and Iban voters.
“This and other internal problems delivered eight unanticipated parliamentary seats to Pakatan Harapan, thus allowing for the coalition to have a sizable enough majority to form a stable federal government along with representation from both sides of the Natuna Sea.”
Ibrahim’s column had also highlighted six factors which led to Pakatan’s unexpected victory in GE14, among which was also the Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad leadership factor.
He explained that it was Dr Mahathir’s ability to articulate populist promises and attacks on Barisan’s shortcomings that had landed credibility to Pakatan’s pledges to solve the nation’s woes.
Ibrahim also said that Barisan and Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak’s problems began when Dr Mahathir begin framing his criticism of the status quo in the typical straight-talking fashion that the 92-year-old is well known for.
“Eschewing complex vocabulary, Dr Mahathir called Najib a ‘thief’ rather than a kleptocrat. More critically, Dr Mahathir helped ordinary, conservative and nationalistic oriented Malay-Muslim voters overcome their fear of voting for Pakatan.”
At the same time, Najib’s move to retaliate by ridiculing Dr Mahathir’s age, had backfired to Barisan, as it brought about public sympathy for Dr Mahathir, said Ibrahim.
Ibrahim added that survey data by Merdeka Centre from the days leading to election showed that a significant number of Malay voters began to set aside their belief in the “preservation of Malay rights”, in favour for “having a competent national leadership”
“This is significant because it meant Barisan’s primary appeal to its core Malay base was eroded.
“In our view, this was the crucial factor that enabled Pakatan to achieve a tipping point among Malay voters - their trust in Dr Mahathir’s leadership,” he said.