Saturday, January 25

Pushing hard for every single vote in Tenang

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LABIS: The weather here has been erratic for the past few days, sometimes it would rain heavily,at other times it would just drizzle.

There were floods in certain areas but like the support for the contesting parties in the Sunday’s Tenang state by-election, there were also dry areas.

Overall, according to observers, the Barisan Nasional (BN) is galloping ahead in terms of support, particularly in Malay dominated areas.

Despite the opposition pact’s well-organised and dedicated election machinery and specially-designed campaign targeting the second and third generations of Felda settlers who are facing housing and low wage issues, they still find it difficult to penetrate the Malay areas such as Felda Chemplak Barat, Felda Chemplak and Felda Tenang.

In the last general election, the support for the BN in Felda areas such as Tenang, where a majority of the voters are Malays, was solid (at 98.5 per cent), while in Chemplak Barat and Chemplak, PAS only managed 18.6 per cent and 18.7 per cent of the votes, respectively.

In other areas where the Malay voters formed more than 90 per cent such as Kampung Rendong, Pekan Ayer Panas and Sawah Baru, PAS only obtained between 18 to 32 per cent.

A senior PAS leader who spoke on condition of anonymity said it would be an uphill task for the party.

“What we can do now is to maintain the level of popularity and votes we gained in 2008. That is our best bet.”

Similar stories can be heard from predominantly Indian areas, with the opposition pact finding it tough to push for extra Indian votes, with local leaders saying the situation was ‘much tougher than during the general election.’

“We don’t see how we can push the level of support higher than what we gained in 2008.It looks like many Indian voters have turned to the BN.We really need to fight for every single vote now,” said a PKR grassroots leader.

A look at the voting patterns among Indian voters in the 2008 general election showed two distinct characteristics; the BN obtained 67.9 per cent of the votes in Ladang Bukit Dato where 46.6 per cent of the voters were Indians.

However, in Ladang Labis Utara, which had 71.7 per cent Indian voters, both sides had an equal share.

It is not surprising, therefore, that the battleground is now shifting towards predominantly Chinese areas such as Labis Timur, Labis Tengah and Tenang Station, with the opposition pact intensifying their onslaught.

The BN has also stepped up their campaign in these areas.

On the surface, the crowds at the nightly ‘ceramah’ organised by the DAP at Tenang Station and Labis Tengah seem to have swollen in size since the first ceramah on Saturday night.

But many attributed the increase to the presence of opposition top guns as the battle for Tenang nearing its finale.

Observers believed that the BN should be concerned about these Chinese-majority areas, predicting that the support could drop below 30 per cent due to the opposition playing up national issues and local issues such as water tariff.

The opposition pact has also been making attempts to link corruption in the country with the recent report by Global Financial Integrity, a Washington-based financial watchdog, which ranks Malaysia as among the countries which registered the highest illicit financial outflows over a period of nine years in the last decade.

Others are playing up the recent water tariff increase in the state, and the requests for Chinese independent schools. — Bernama
We now basically have to fight for every single vote,” he said.

The Tenang by-election, called following the death of Datuk Sulaiman Taha of BN on Dec 17, is a straight fight between BN’s Mohd Azahar Ibrahim and PAS’ Normala Sudirman.

While the contesting parties may be hoping for a fair weather, they certainly wouldn’t mind being flooded with votes come polling day. — Bernama