There is a possibility of Malay voters opting for independent candidates or spoiling their votes out of protest in the coming 13th general election, said an activist here.
Penang Malay Congress president, Rahmad Isahak, said Malays are uncomfortable with Pakatan Rakyat policies and also not confident that BN has the support to regain the state.
In the past 12 elections, the Malays rallied around Umno-BN or the opposition such as PAS and PKR. But now many may support Independents or won’t bother to vote at all, he said.
He added that the uncertain political scenerio gives rise to the growing posibility and presence of a third political voice (force) in Penang.
The third voice is said to consist of the parties formed post-2008, or a number of community activists who pride themselves in championing what the average person here wants or fears.
Such a group may become the kingmakers if Pakatan and BN cannot secure a comfortable majority in the next election, especially if the third voice manages to snare a few seats.
Rahmad claimed that the Malay political stake has eroded since 2008 in Penang and it is not the fault of just Pakatan or BN.
While both sides are trying to outdo each other, they have forgotten about the plight of the poor, the majority of whom are Malays, Rahmad said.
“There is a perception that Penang is mostly populated by the Chinese and at times, the Malays here are indirectly overlooked, more so on the island,” he said.
He cited the recent example where DAP delegates did not bother to vote in any of the eight Malay candidates vying for posts in the party’s central executive committee.
Malays’ political fortunes bleak
Earlier, Rahmad said that BN appointed Teng Chang Yeow from Gerakan to head Penang BN when Umno held all of the coalition’s 11 seats here.
Then there was the exclusion of PAS from the state executive council line-up, leaving only two Malays, Deputy Chief Minister I Mansor Othman and state exco member Abdul Malik Abul Kassim.
To make matters worse, Rahmad said there were allegations that Mansor had branded Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng as an arrogant and cocky leader.
Such examples are glaring to the Malay community that their political fortune seemed lost in the state, Rahmad said.
Already, the community is stricken with socio-economic issues like affordable housing, rising healthcare costs, dead-end jobs, erosion of family values and crime, he added.
The Penang Malay Congress has been lobbying the state government and DAP to be more Malay-friendly in its policies.
It wants the socialist party to consider selecting more Malay electoral candidates to demonstrate that it was committed to the community and its welfare.
But it has come to nought, and Rahmad believes that the Malays may vent their frustration by supporting Independents, or registering a protest by spoiling their ballot papers.
Based on the latest population census, Penang’s Malay Muslims make up about 40% of the state’s estimated population of 1.5million.
The rest consists of Chinese, Indians and other minority groups.
Rahmad said the political parties here have to accept reality that the Malay population is expected to grow considerably, so it is necessary to engage the community on all fronts.