Banana leaves and a lucky Hawaiian shirt: Malaysia’s colourful election history

14-Apr-2018 Intellasia | The Malay Mail Online | 6:00 AM Print This Post

Would you wade into a crocodile-infested river to prove your sincerity to a group of voters?

One candidate did in 1959. Yes, truth is stranger than fiction!

Here is a look back at some incidents that coloured our country’s election history, courtesy of the National Archives of Malaysia.

GE1: 1959

Banana leaves for umbrellas

While campaigning in Sungai Siput, Perak, Mentri Besar Mohamad Ghazali Shafie Jawi and Health minister Tun VT Sambanthan were caught in a sudden downpour. The duo used banana leaves for umbrellas and on top of walking through mud, they also had to cross a padi field.

A political candidate bathed in a crocodile-infested river to prove his sincerity

Alliance Party candidate Hussein Nordin and his information officer Ustaz Ismail Karim did something highly unusual in Kampung Balun Bedai, a remote village in Parit, Perak. Tradition requires that every outsider who visits the village for the very first time bathe in the crocodile-infested river to prove his or her sincerity if one is honest, the crocodiles would not attack. Seeing Hussein and Ismail’s willingness to go through the test, as many as 441 voters pledged to vote for Alliance.

GE2: 1964

Elephant ride on campaign trail

Datin Fatimah Hashim, Head of Kaum Ibu Umno Malaya (the precursor to Wanita Umno) rode on an elephant while campaigning in Jitra-Padang Terap. The highlight of her campaign trail took place in Pring, Kodiang, around 20 miles (32km) from Alor Setar. When she arrived, she was welcomed with a Pencak Silat performance. Fatimah said she felt like a bride.

No gangsters allowed

In a newspaper announcement detailing election campaign rules, the Election Commission made it known that no gangsters could be used for campaigning purposes and debates in front of large crowds were to be avoided.

Election results were announced on the radio at midnight

Radio Malaysia in Kuala Lumpur and Singapore announced election results at midnight on Sunday, April 25, 1964. The broadcast continued until 3am or 4am in English, Malay, Chinese and Tamil. The announcement was broadcast through radio stations in Kota Baru, Kuala Terengganu, Kuantan, Penang, Ipoh, Malacca, Johor Baru, Kuala Lumpur and Singapore.

Tunku Abdul Rahman wore lucky Hawaiian shirt

Prime minister Tunku Abdul Rahman Putra Al-Haj wore a Hawaiian shirt to the polls, the same one he wore while casting his vote at the 1959 election. The lucky Hawaiian shirt featured images of sailboats which was the logo of the Alliance Party, the coalition made up of Umno, MCA and MIC

GE3: 1969

‘Wait for your wife to come home, then you can go out to vote’

As polling day approached, secretary of the Royal Malaysian Police Burhan Kuntom said in a statement, “Don’t leave your homes unattended while voting on May 10. If a wife has gone out to vote with her neighbour, the husband should wait until she returns and then only go out to vote.” The reason? Thieves may seize the opportunity to break into one’s home while one is out voting. The statement of advice also warned citizens to not leave matchsticks on the floor, turn off the stove as well as oil lamps.

Tunku Abdul Rahman wears lucky shirt again

Tunku’s lucky Hawaiian shirt made an appearance once more while voting at Sekolah Keat Hwa in Kampung Perak, Alor Setar, Kedah. He wore the shirt at the 1959 and 1964 elections and both times, the Alliance Party won.

GE4: 1974

Barisan Nasional won seats without contest

As soon as candidate nominations were closed on midday August 8, 1974, Barisan Nasional won 90 seats without contest. 47 of them were parliamentary seats and the other 43 were state assembly seats. Then prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, deputy prime minister Datuk Hussein Onn along with eight federal ministers were among the candidates who won without contesting for Parliament.

Tun Razak makes history as first prime minister to win without contest

Tun Abdul Razak Hussein won the Pekan parliamentary seat without contest. The victory came after former civil servant Zulkifli Ahmad who was contesting against Tun Abdul Razak pulled out of the election at the last minute due to personal reasons.

Tun Hussein Onn celebrate electoral victory with a ‘wedding’ welcome

Deputy prime minister Datuk Hussein Onn and wife Datin Suhaila Noh were treated like newlyweds by the residents of Pekan Parit Rajam, Batu Pahat, Johor. The elaborate welcome was part of Hussein’s Sri Gading parliamentary constituency victory which he won without contest. The couple were greeted by more than 1,000 residents including a kompang group. Turmeric rice and flowers were also thrown on them.

Campaigning with torchlight in hand

Deputy prime minister Datuk Hussein Onn trekked through the darkness to meet voters in Kepong using a torchlight. He went from house to house to survey living conditions to help BN candidate Dr Tan Tiong Hon. Hussein was also accompanied by his eldest daughter Hanim.

Begging Malaysians to vote through radio announcement

When Penang elections director Ariffin Mohd Yassin observed that only 30 to 45 per cent of Penangites were voting, he pleaded over the radio for voters to go out and fulfill their rights.

Blackout disrupts vote counting

During the counting of votes for the constituency of Setapak in Sekolah Menengah Lelaki, Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, chaos ensued when there was a power outage from 8.45pm to 10.15pm. Polling officials relied on torchlights, kerosene lamps and car headlights. To ensure the security of ballot boxes, police controlled the exit and entry of the polling centre.

The counting resumed at 10.30pm, 15 minutes after the power resumed. According to the National Electricity Board, the power outage took place in several locations in Kuala Lumpur including Kampung Baru.


Category: Malaysia

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