Torn banners, racist taunts: Instances of hate culture cast shadow over Malaysia GE15 campaign

“Residents of Taman Tun Dr Ismail contacted me this morning to inform me that Harapan flags have been removed, my banner has been damaged and my billboard destroyed in a few locations,” said the incumbent Segambut Member of Parliament. 

“It’s sad because we are not rich. This is dirty politics that disgust me,” Ms Yeoh wrote. She added that she will be leaving the damaged billboards and banners up as a reminder to voters of the “dirty acts by irresponsible people” during the campaign. 

Such incidents are affecting the campaigning efforts of the various coalitions. 

On Wednesday, the Director of the General Election Operations division at the police headquarters in Bukit Aman, Commissioner Hazani Ghazali reportedly said that at least 10 cases of vandalism involving campaign materials such as torn and damaged posters, banners and flags were reported in various states as well as in Kuala Lumpur, Sabah and Sarawak.  

He added that the police have opened 22 investigation papers involving offences related to GE15.

Mr Hazani cited how in Senai, Johor, a local man who was drunk had broken a pole of a BN flag and thrown it on the road.

The Star quoted BN’s Kulai parliamentary candidate Chua Jian Boon as saying that the removal and tearing down of his campaign materials were unfair.  

“Such actions should stop, we should not resort to such tactics,” he reportedly said.

Meanwhile, according to another report by The Star on Saturday (Nov 12), a campaign billboard of incumbent Perikatan Nasional (PN) candidate Ahmad Faizal Azumu had been vandalised with the picture of his face torn out leaving a “large gaping hole”.

Mr Ahmad Faizal is defending his federal seat of Tambun, Perak against PH chairman Anwar Ibrahim and BN’s Aminuddin Hanafiah.

Mr Ahmad Faizal’s aide Natasha Amira was quoted by The Star as saying that the damaged billboard was located at the highway exit to Sunway City.

“This is the first one that we have found to have been vandalised this badly,” she said.

Commissioner Mr Hazani also noted how in Beluran, Sabah, four flag poles belonging to Parti Warisan Sabah along a pedestrian path were damaged. 

Last month, Malaysia’s king Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah issued a statement urging all candidates and party supporters to be “civil” during the GE15 campaigning period which began last Saturday.

The ruler advised candidates to avoid provocation and to adhere to the laws and rules stipulated by the authorities, particularly the Election Commission (EC) and police.


Political analyst Serina Rahman, who is also a lecturer in the Department of South-east Asian Studies at the National University of Singapore, posited that such acts of hate culture or negative politics stem from the politicisation of ethnicity in Malaysia. 

She said that some political parties have also been “very adept” at playing up ethnic divisions to validate their own existence, as some of these parties fight for a racial cause. 

“With this kind of conditioning over decades, in which (political) parties also actively incite fear of the loss of ethnic power, it can lead to heady emotions at election time,” said Dr Serina. 

“I personally think it’s hard for the country to move forward beyond ethnic politics because it’s been so ingrained and there’s so much fear,” she opined. 

Yet, the analyst also pointed out that there have been instances of positive politics over the course of the GE15 campaign thus far. 

She cited how candidates would shake hands and greet one another when at the nomination centre or when they bump into each other on campaign walkabouts. 

Source By https://www.channelnewsasia.com/asia/malaysia-election-ge15-hate-culture-negative-politics-hannah-yeoh-syed-saddiq-3064856