SEBERANG PERAI: If anybody had thought that Permatang Pauh is another one of those sleepy-hollow constituencies having a large number of ageing voters who form their opinion based on coffee-shop talk, newspaper reports and the television, they’d better think again.On the contrary, over 40% of the 58,459 voters are aged between 21 and 40, while another 25.3% are aged between 41 and 50. This effectively means that over 65% of the population are below 50.
These voters are the ones who would have access to the blog sites and other news disseminated via the Internet which would actually influence how they think, and vote.
Both the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and Barisan Nasional (BN) would have a tough time trying to convince these voters to change their perception or way of thinking once their minds have been made up.
The parliamentary seat of Permatang Pauh, or P44 in the Election Commission’s list, consists of three state seats — N10 Seberang Jaya, N11 Permatang Pasir and N12 Penanti.
Those aged 51 to 60 account for 18.6% while those above 60 make up almost 16% of the voters. This group of voters will also be decisive in the by-election set for Aug 26.
Women power should not be dismissed, as they make up a notch more in percentage of voters at 50.61% compared to the men who form 49.39%.
It would be interesting to see how they would vote now, especially with Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim taking over the seat from his wife Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
Some tend to have the view that Wan Azizah had the bulk of the women’s support on the past three occasions due to sympathy and her struggle for justice for her imprisoned husband. She was admired for her guts and determination, which helped her gain extra points with the voters.
It is a known fact that the Malay voters, who make up 69% of the population, are split between supporting BN and PR.
Most of the Malay population are scattered in the villages dotting the landscape while some live in the newer townships which have sprouted in Seberang Jaya, the cosmopolitan centre of the constituency.
The Chinese, who make up 25% of the voters, are generally involved in running businesses such as restaurants, market stalls and sundry shops in the Seberang Jaya, Penanti, Permatang Pauh and Bukit Mertajam towns.
Most of the businesses are run by the older generation, while the younger folk work in the hundreds of multinational companies in Perai.
How they would vote in this by-election is a foregone conclusion, as many are still reeling from the higher costs of living which would in turn be demonstrated via the ballot box.
As for the Indians, who form almost 6% of the voters, most of them live in Seberang Jaya, while there are some who stay in several rubber and oil palm estates in Penanti.
Most of the younger generation also work in the industrial sector while the older ones are mostly retired estate workers.
The Hindraf episode, which is still fresh in their minds, would work to the advantage of the PR as the Indians here, as with the rest of the nation, have yet to forgive the BN for what happened.
Permatang Pauh boasts of several tertiary institutions, including the sprawling Universiti Institut Teknologi Mara and Politeknik Seberang Perai.
Seberang Jaya, the commercial hub of the constituency, also hosts many of the state offices of government agencies. Among them are the Employees Provident Fund, Social Security Organisation (Socso), Tenaga Nasional Berhad and Immigration department, to name a few.
So it is not surprising that there is a large concentration of voters — 22,680 — in Seberang Jaya. Of this, Malays make up 14,480 voters, Chinese 5,381, Indians 2,769, and others 54.
In Permatang Pasir, which is the rural part of the constituency and has 20,450 registered voters, there are 14,850 Malay voters, 5,247 Chinese voters and only 250 Indian voters.
Penanti, which is a rural-urban mix with some commercial activities and villages, has 15,421 voters of whom 11,296 are Malays, 3,732 Chinese, and 371 Indians.