Crime, cost of living top issues for women voters
February 11, 2013
Malaysian InsiderKUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 — Women voters are focused on security and the rising cost of living, even as analysts highlight the demographic as fence-sitters that could determine the results of Election 2013. The Malaysian Insider conducted a straw poll among 10 female voters recently, most of whom also said that Barisan Nasional (BN) would win the 13th general election, citing various factors like government cash handouts, a disunited opposition pact and electoral fraud.
“Crime nowadays is so high,” housewife Salina Mohd Akhir told The Malaysian Insider recently, echoing the main concern among those living in cities.
“Even though sometimes you want to bring your child outside, you have to protect them all the time. Even when you go out on your own, you feel it’s not that safe for you,” said the 42-year-old, who lives in Subang Jaya near here.
According to the latest statistics provided by the Election Commission (EC), women make up 50.2 per cent, or 6.58 million voters out of a 13.1 million-strong electorate.
Salina said she worries for her five-year-old daughter whenever the latter goes to school.
Six-year-old William Yau was found dead last month after he went missing for more than a week.
Putrajaya’s efficiency unit Pemandu said last July that index crime in Malaysia dropped by 10.1 per cent from January to May in 2012 compared to the same period in 2011.
Crime watchdog MyWatch, however, said last month that the crime rate went up last year, alleging that national crime statistics have been manipulated.
Salina, whose husband works as an airline executive with a monthly pay of about RM5,000, said that the cost of living was also very high.
“If one husband is working and one wife is not working, they feel the pinch... Nothing is cheap — food, clothes. It’s not cheap anymore,” she said.
“Even if you buy average groceries, it will cost you around RM200 a week. That also you don’t get everything,” added Salina.
The housewife also said that she would support BN, highlighting the Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M) RM500 cash aids that were dished out last year. A second round of BR1M this year is expected to benefit 4.3 million households and 2.7 million single unmarried individuals compared to 4.2 million people for the first BR1M.
Accounts executive Liow Mei Fong, 30, said the escalating cost of living was a top-priority issue.
“Owning a house is quite far-fetched. Most of my peers still can’t own a house,” Liow told The Malaysian Insider recently.
“I am quite debt-free, but can’t really save to buy a decent property without compromising my lifestyle,” she added.
Liow, who earns about RM5,000 a month and usually goes travelling every year, said that she could only afford property costing below RM300,000.
“Prices are crazy these days. New ones (Petaling Jaya condominiums) are ranging RM400,000 plus,” she said.
The latest Property Market Report 2012 has revealed property prices in major cities such as Kuala Lumpur, Penang, Johor Baru and Kota Kinabalu to be well above the affordability of any middle-income wage earner with a take-home pay of less than RM4,000, prompting the federal government to come up with several affordable housing schemes.
In Kuala Lumpur, a single-storey terrace house in Taman Tun Dr Ismail or Lucky Garden is priced above RM730,000, while a similar type of house in the nearby Petaling district costs above RM378,000.
Liow also worries about violent crime and rape, saying: “Rape, for any lady, is a big thing.”
Asked who would win Election 2013, which must be called by April, she said: “It will still be BN la. They will do what it takes to be in... trick is at the votes, how they temper it.”
Insurance agent Jamilah Mohamad, 53, fears sexual assault and violence against children.
“I don’t feel safe now. If you ask me to go for a meeting at 10 o’clock at night and come back home, I have a fear that someone will follow me home,” Jamilah told The Malaysian Insider.
The mother of four, who lives in Putra Heights, pointed out that women in India could walk around wearing lots of jewellery whereas in Masjid India here, “at least four women will tell me to be careful of my chain, (though) it’s costume jewellery.”
Jamilah stressed that the cost of living was increasing, saying: “Two to three years ago, (groceries) for a week is RM100 plus, now easily RM200.” Jamilah and her husband have a combined income of about RM7,000 and are currently taking care of their 12-year-old daughter, while their three older children are living on their own.
Jamilah added that she would vote for BN as PR was not united, pointing out the “Allah” row that showed conflicting views between PAS and the DAP.
“Yes we need opposition. If not, nobody is there to monitor them (BN). But if they (PR) rule, we have doubts,” she said.
Angel, a 49-year-old Kadazan who lives in Kota Kinabalu, said the high cost of living was a major issue.
“Just (at) the mention of minimum wage, everything went up. A cup of teh si kosong is nearly RM2. Last time, (it was) RM1.20,” said Angel, who did not want to give her last name.
She also noted that Project IC, where citizenship was allegedly given to immigrants in exchange for votes during the Mahathir administration, was another issue of concern.
“BN will still win, but with a less(er) majority. A lot of dissatisfaction (is) creeping up... the ICs, cost of living, cabotage policy,” she said.
“They (the opposition) have yet to have a united front. Here, they’re so divided... especially in Sabah, there are so many political parties,” added Angel.