Exaggerating the urban-rural divide is no help

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The “kampong mentality” argument has permeated political discourse so deeply that the rural folks’ failure to vote for the opposition is often regarded as an intellectual or moral failing. That is a profoundly unhelpful way of understanding rural thinking.

It’s been two months since the byelection in Teluk Intan, a semi-urban seat in Perak, dealt the opposition Pakatan alliance a shock defeat. It had not really expected to lose. There are many reasons for this setback no doubt, but one thing is clear: its biggest losses came in the vote banks located in the more rural settings and among older voters.

This should not have come as a surprise. After all, numerous elections have shown that Pakatan consistently does better in urban settings. Urban voters of all races tend to vote for the opposition in higher numbers than people of all races in the rural areas.


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