Fence sitters hold the key

PETALING JAYA: The number of undecided voters has increased since the 14th General Election – and these voters could sway results in the six state elections, say analysts.

Calling them “double-edged swords”, an academic said fence sitters are likely to play a decisive role in bringing defeat or victory to the contesting parties.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) political scientist Prof Datuk Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said that the number of fence sitters had increased since the 2018 general election.

“Prior to 2018, the number of fence sitters was estimated at between 10% and 15%. Their numbers have increased and may make up as much as 30% due to changes in the political landscape in recent years,” he said.

He cited the 15th General Election as an example where fence sitters helped Perikatan Nasional win 74 parliamentary seats.

“The eleventh-hour decision by fence sitters could sway results either way in the coming state polls,” he said.

Unlike the general election, he said, state elections were more focused on local issues.

“Fence sitters are more concerned over what the candidates can do for them at the local level, with some voting on sentiments,” he said.

Political scientist at Sunway University Prof Dr Wong Chin Huat said fence sitters make up a large portion of voters who opt to stay out of the polls due to various reasons.

“They have no strong inclination towards any party and include some disappointed party hardcores who cannot bring themselves to vote.

“However, they may come out to vote at the last minute,” he said.

He said both Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional and Perikatan candidates could end up losing votes to fence sitters.

Political scientist Dr Tunku Mohar Tunku Mohd Mokhtar of International Islamic University Malaysia said fence sitters were usually non-partisan young voters and those from urban areas who want to be told that their votes matter.

“If they vote, it will be a last-minute decision on which party or candidate they think can best serve them. Since they are not interested in politics, they want to see a clear direction and what would be in store for them, rather than the usual generic party promises,” he added.

USM senior lecturer Dr Azmil Mohd Tayeb said the fence sitters were likely to be voters aged between 18 and 30 who needed to be motivated to vote.

“They tend to be less partisan than their parents and will not simply vote out of party loyalty.

“Both sides need to encourage these fence sitters to vote for them or just to come out to vote,” he added.

Meanwhile, Aziza Ngah, 68, said she had yet to decide on who to vote for in Hulu Kelang despite attending multiple ceramah over the past two weeks.

“Both candidates have their own strengths but I am still deciding who will be the best representative for our area.

“I will still go out and vote to fulfil my obligations, just like I did in the last general election,” the grandmother of seven said.

Burrd Lim, 54, a systems development manager, said he did not attend any of the ceramah in his area as he was not bothered to listen to campaign speeches.

“I would rather judge the candidates and parties based on their actions or inactions,” he said.

For him, it is not about whether to vote or not but rather exercising his electoral duty as a citizen.

He will be voting in Paya Jaras together with his 19-year-old daughter, a first-time voter.

A voter from Seri Setia, who wanted to be known as Anne, said she made up her mind to vote in recent days after considering the implications the polls would have on the state’s future.

“My family and I will vote for the candidate that can lead us to a better future in Selangor,” added the 45-year-old homemaker.

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