Malaysia GE15: Candidates staying away from mudslinging, rhetoric-style campaigning
Election campaigns with strong visions on issues like the economy and job opportunities could garner greater support this time around, according to some analysts.
ALOR SETAR, Kedah: Forget dirty campaigning tactics.
Many candidates at Malaysia’s 15th general election are choosing to focus on policy issues, and staying away from mudslinging and rhetoric-style campaigning.
A total of 945 candidates are vying for 222 parliamentary seats. To stand out, they are adopting a range of strategies to win the hearts of voters, with house visits and party flag displays at every turn.
GE15 is expected to be a closely fought contest, with three main coalitions – Barisan Nasional (BN), Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Perikatan Nasional (PN) – looking to take the biggest share of federal seats and form the next government.
Some analysts said campaigns with strong visions on issues like the economy and job opportunities could garner greater support this time around.
But it is unclear if the methods used by the various political parties are enough to convince people to turn up to vote amid the prospect of heavy rains and floods on Saturday (Nov 19).
FOCUSING ON POLICY ISSUES, NOT MUDSLINGING
Caretaker prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob of the ruling BN coalition said he is adopting a casual and harmonious approach this election and will campaign based on facts.
This could be a wise move, one analyst told CNA.
“GE15 is a new dimension,” said Dr Malike Brahim, a senior lecturer at the Universiti Utara Malaysia’s School of Government.
“Parties can no longer engage in dirty campaign strategies. I am also urging that campaign activities be professional, respectful, ones that can instil confidence and without mudslinging.”
Other United Malays National Organisation (UMNO) candidates are touting their wealth of experience as a reason for people to vote for them.
Sungai Petani candidate Shahanim Mohamad Yusoff said: “I am a leader with 21 years of experience in politics. I have an extensive network and I am a former senator.
“With all these experiences, I can bring up any issues to help the people here.”
RANGE OF STRATEGIES TO WIN VOTES
Opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan has a couple of attention-grabbing tools in its arsenal, including a mouse-deer mascot called Jaguh (champion in Malay).
It has also taken a Malay song by the late Malaysian actor and singer P Ramlee, and tweaked the lyrics to take aim at previous administrations. The chorus includes a line “siapa sokong penyamun” (“who is supporting the thieves” in Malay).
“It’s a talking point,” said incumbent Lembah Pantai MP Fahmi Fadzil, a PH candidate defending the seat he won in 2018. “When people look at it, there’s another way of interacting.
“When you listen to a song, when you attend an event, oftentimes, what we have as a soundscape for this election, it provides another dimension to the campaign.”
Meanwhile, Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) president Mukhriz Mahathir is banking on the human touch.
Mr Mukhriz is looking to hold on to his Jerlun seat in Kedah, and is going up against three other candidates. He said the priority this time is to make sure residents are familiar with his party’s relatively new logo.
“I noticed because of the weather and the trend, maybe, big gatherings are no longer in fashion. Not like in the old days,” said Mr Mukhriz, the oldest son of former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.
“(In the past), we used to have almost daily or nightly talks, where we could gather 100 to 200 people coming to listen to what we have to say. So the next best approach is to go house to house.”