Tuesday, April 23, 2013
GELANG PATAH AND OTHER MORTAL 'KOMBATS'
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WHILE almost all political big guns are sticking to their safe domains, a few Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat leaders are testing their worth in unfamiliar territories. They are either extremely brave and confident or are suicidal.
The biggest risk taker has to be the DAP’s supremo, Lim Kit Siang who moved from his Ipoh Timur sanctuary in Perak to Gelang Patah in the Barisan Nasional stronghold, Johor.
The next is PAS’s vice-president, Salahudin Ayub, who left his adopted Kubang Krian fortress in Kelantan for Pulai parliamentary seat in his home state of Johor. Tipped to be the PR Menteri Besar should the BN is ousted, he also contests the Nusa Jaya state seat, one of the two in Gelang Patah.
The two BN risk takers are Abdul Ghani Othman, who is taking on Lim in the Gelang Patah and Mukhriz Mahathir who shifted from his “marginal” parliamentary seat of Jerlun to the state seat of Ayer Hitam, one of the two in Jerlun. Ayer Hitam was won by PAS in 2008.
How Would They Fair?
Lim is gambling whatever is left of his four decades plus political career. Gelang Patah could be his Little Bighorn where, like the US Cavalry Commander George Armstrong Custer 136 years ago, he is making his last stand.
Gelah Patah is a BN stronghold. It was only in the 2008 that the BN’s supremacy was challenged. In 2004, Tan Ah Eng (BN/MCA) garnered 78% of votes while his PKR challenger, Song Sin Kwee 18%. In 2008, however, Tan’s take fell drastically in concert with overall trend to 55% and the PKR’s haul via Dr Zaliha Mustafa rose to 41%.
Lim is hoping to improve significantly on the PKR’s 2008 performance. So far he has not failed in his venture into a new seat. Since the 1969 general election – his first - Lim had won parliamentary seats in four states namely Malacca, Selangor, Penang and Perak. He has also been a member of the State Legislative Assembly in Malacca and Penang.
Abdul Ghani, on the other hand, is banking on his long service as the Menteri Besar and the hype about the popularity of the Prime Minister, Mohd Najib Abdul Razak.
Gelang Patah is a mixed constituency, which is made up of 52.4% Chinese voters, 34.3% Malays and 12.5% Indians 12.5%. Assuming that the bulk of the Chinese votes and a significant percentage of Indians’ side with Lim, he may not have to rely too heavily on Malay votes to win. The pro-PR Malays are unlikely to sway towards Abdul Ghani. They will stay with the PR and vote for Lim.
The BN has to work hard to convert the fence sitters among the Malays. The results of the 2008 general election indicated a widespread protest among the traditional BN supporters. Out of 60,653 ballot papers returned, 2,244 were rejected, indicating a high level of protest votes. Exponential increase in voters could work in Lim’s favour. There has been an increase of 28,188 voters to 106,684 from the last general election.
The battle is tougher for the amiable Salahuddin who is facing BN incumbent Nur Jazlan Mohamed in Pulai. In 2008, Nur Jazlan defeated his PAS rival by a whopping majority 20,449 after obtaining 38,036 votes. Salahuddin may fair better in the state seat of Nusa Jaya, one of two in the Gelang Patah. Salahuddin and the entire PR pact need not a tsunami but a rouge wave to wrest Johor from the BN.
Mukhriz too is facing an uphill battle. Unlike in the 2008 when he was a novice and enjoyed the status of being (Tun) Dr Mahathir’s son, this time around he is fighting his own battle.
In the 2008 election, Dr Mahathir enjoyed a considerable sympathy and goodwill from PAS because he was seen as a victim of a vendetta by Abdullah’s camp. Dr Mahathir’s open criticism of Abdullah benefited the oppositions and PAS in particular was lenient towards him.
So, while Mukhriz won the Jerlun Parliamentary seat with a moderate majority, the two state seats went to PAS. BN won only four out of 15 parliamentary seats and 14 out of 36 state seats in the state in 2008.
This time around, the Mahathir’s son factor could even be a minus point for him. With Dr Mahathir championing the BN and actively campaigning for Mohd Najib, and even calling for the return of Kedah to the BN, there would not be such a thing as sympathy and horse-trading for Mukhriz.
The Safety Seekers
THEN there are those who ran for cover. The notable ones being the PAS Deputy President, Mohamad Sabu, in Pendang, Kedah and Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) President, Palanivel Govindasamy in Cameron Higlands, Pahang.
Pendang is a PAS stronghold. Since the 1959 genetral election, PAS had won the area, which was previously known as Kota Star Selatan, six times. In the 1974 general election, when PAS was in the BN, the seat was also assigned to PAS. So in all it held the seat seven times in total.
Othman A Four-Time Winner
But the Penang-born Mohamad Sabu is facing a formidable challenge from a BN veteran, Othman Abdul, who won the seat thrice – 1986, 1990 and 1995 – and once in a by-election in 2002. If there is anybody in Kedah BN who can outtalk Mohamad Sabu, it has to be Man Tok Doi as Othman is popularly known in the area.
Running For High Ground
Palanivel, who famously shot down the “offer” by his predecessor and mentor, Samy Vellu, to re-contest in Sungai Siput and gave the undertaking that he would recapture the seat he lost in 2008, is not himself contesting in the MIC’s traditional perch.
Instead he opted for the safer Camaron Highlands seat and shuttled the incumbent, S. K. Devasamy, to Sungai Siput to do battle with the incumbent, Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj of the Malaysian Socialist Party (PSM) who is using the PKR logo. So Sungai Siput is seeing the battle of two Devas.
A Celebrity Shot For Bung
And on a rare occasion you come across a lucky guy like the BN incumbent candidate for Kinabatangan, Bung Mokhtar Radin. He has a beautiful actress wife a safe seat. Media reports say her presence on the campaign trail is a hit with voters. So who dare say that a spouse is not an asset? And don’t read too much into the picture of Bung and the wife. She was just horsing around with her man.
- A KADIR JASIN
- I was born in 1947 in Kedah. I came from a rice farming family. I have been a journalist since 1969. I am the Editor-in-Chief of magazine publishing company, Berita Publishing Sdn Bhd. I was Group Editor NST Sdn Bhd and Group Editor-in-Chief of NSTP Bhd between 1988 and 2000. I write fortnightly column “Other Thots” in the Malaysian Business magazine, Kunta Kinte Original in Berita Harian and A Kadir Jasin Bercerita in Dewan Masyarakat. Books: Biar Putih Tulang (1998), Other Thots – Opinions & Observations 1992-2001 (2001), The Wings of an Eagle (2003), Mencari Dugalia Huso (2006), Damned That Thots (2006), Blogger (2006), PRU 2008-Rakyat Sahut Cabaran (2008), Komedi & Tragedi-Latest in Contemporary Malaysian Politics (2009) and Membangun Bangsa dengan Pena (2009).