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Dangerous to generalise, analyst says on voters' education, income level remarks

Jeniri Amir describes it as a foolish move.

Azzman Abdul Jamal
2 minute read
Voters queue to cast their ballots for the 15th general election at a polling centre in Selayang, Nov 19, 2022.
Voters queue to cast their ballots for the 15th general election at a polling centre in Selayang, Nov 19, 2022.

An analyst has described recent remarks by Home Minister Saifuddin Nasution Ismail on the income and education level of opposition voters as a foolish move, although they might not have an impact on the crucial elections to be held in six states this year. 

Saifuddin, the chief secretary of Pakatan Harapan (PH), had said that the youth who voted for Perikatan Nasional (PN) at last year's general election lacked higher education and a steady income. 

Citing a study conducted by PH after the Nov 19, 2022 polls, he also said that those with higher education and income levels were more likely to vote for the coalition. 

Jeniri Amir, a senior fellow at the National Professors Council, said Malaysia practises a democratic system in which each voter has the right to support the party of his or her choice. 

He also described Saifuddin's comments as a generalisation. 

"Does this mean that only clever, smart or sane people support a particular party?" he said. 

Jeniri added that the same principle applied even if Saifuddin had been referring to voters in rural areas. 

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, he said it was not necessarily the case that those who live in rural areas are more ignorant than those who live in urban centres.  

"That would be akin to an insult," he added. 

The 15th general election saw an unexpected surge of support for PN, which won a total of 74 seats, the lion's share of which went to PAS. 

It made a clean sweep in Kelantan, Terengganu and Perlis, and obtained the most seats in Kedah and Pahang which were previously seen as Barisan Nasional strongholds. 

Jeniri said Saifuddin's remarks might receive a backlash from some, but that voters would take into account a wide range of factors before deciding who to support. 

"Such statements might not be enough to affect their decisions," he said. 

"We cannot necessarily say that these remarks will affect the voting pattern at the polls." 

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