Turnout figures from Malaysian by-elections held this week turned conventional political wisdom on its head, with 79 per cent of ethnic Chinese voting for the opposition which included an Islamist candidate. The seats in the northern states of Perak and Kedah went to an Islamist and an Indian candidate respectively, both of whom are part of Anwar Ibrahim's opposition coalition. This was despite the fact most Malays in the constituencies voted for Umno, the party that dominates the ruling National Front alliance. The breakdown of the vote was provided by the Election Commission. 'The Chinese anger against Umno overtook their fear of creeping Islam,' said political scientist Denison Jayasooria. He said the trend, if it persisted, would significantly change the political landscape. Voting patterns have previously closely followed racial lines. Majority Malays are now roughly equally divided between the United Malays National Organisation and Mr Anwar's coalition, allowing minorities to play a kingmaker role in about half of the 222 parliamentary constituencies.