Fence keepers hold the key

PETALING JAYA: Analysts say the number of undecided voters has increased since the 14th General Election and these voters could influence the results in six state elections.

One academic, describing them as “double-edged swords”, said hedgehogs are likely to play a decisive role in bringing defeat or victory to competing parties.

Prof Datuk Dr Sivamurugan Pandian, political scientist at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), said the number of people sitting on the fence has increased since the 2018 general election.

“Before 2018, the number of border residents was estimated to be between 10% and 15%. “In recent years, their numbers have increased due to changes in the political landscape and can reach 30 percent,” he said.

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

“The decision of the fence watchers at the eleventh hour could affect the results in the upcoming state polls either way,” he said.

He said that unlike general elections, state elections are more focused on local issues.

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

Prof Dr Wong Chin Huat, a political scientist at Sunway University, said that the majority of voters who chose to stay out of the ballot box for various reasons were fenced off.

“They have no strong leanings towards any party and they include some disillusioned party hardliners who have not been able to persuade themselves to vote.

But they can come to vote at the last moment.”

He said both Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional and Perikatan candidates could lose their votes to the farmers.

Dr Tunku Mohar Tunku Mohd Mokhtar, a political scientist at the International Islamic University in Malaysia, said the fence ministers are usually young non-partisan 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 serve them best. “Because they are not interested in politics, they want a clear direction and see what awaits them, rather than the usual generic party promises,” he said.

USM senior lecturer Dr Azmil Mohd Tayeb said border residents are likely voters between the ages of 18 and 30 who should be motivated to vote.

“They tend to be less partisan than their parents and won’t just vote for party loyalty.

“Both sides should encourage these farmers to vote for them or just come to vote,” he added.

Meanwhile, Aziza Ngah, 68, said she has yet to decide who to vote for on Hulu Kelang, despite joining multiple ceramahs in the past two weeks.

“Both candidates have their own strengths, but I still decide who will represent our region best.

“I will go out and vote again to fulfill my obligations, as I did in the last general election,” said the seven-year-old grandmother.

Burrd Lim, 54, systems development manager, said he didn’t join any ceramah in his area because he didn’t bother to listen to campaign speeches.

“I prefer to judge candidates and parties based on their actions or inaction,” he said.

The important thing for him is not whether to vote, but to fulfill his election duty as a citizen.

She will be voting in Paya Jaras with her 19-year-old daughter, who will be voting for the first time.

A voter from Seri Setia, who wants to be recognized as a mother, said she decided to vote in recent days after considering the effects of the polls on the state’s future.

“My family and I will vote for the candidate who can move us to a better future in Selangor,” said the 45-year-old housewife.

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