Monday 4 June 2012

Malacca is uphill but can be taken

Pakatan leaders say their parties are strong enough to take over the state.

MALACCA: Pakatan Rakyat leaders in Malacca claim that they can get enough votes to wrest the state from Barisan Nasional in the coming election, albeit with a slim majority.

FMT recently interviewed three opposition figures – one from each of the Pakatan parties – and they all expressed a similar confidence.

There are six parliamentary and 28 state seats in Malacca. In the 2008 general election, neither PAS nor PKR won any seat although the former contested in one parliamentary and 13 state constituencies and the latter in two parliamentary and seven state constituencies.

DAP won the Kota Melaka parliamentary seat and the state seats of Kesidang, Kota Laksamana, Bandar Hilir, Bachang and Ayer Keroh.

Kesidang, Kota Laksamana and Bandar Hilir fall under the Kota Melaka parliamentary seat. Bachang and Ayer Keroh are within the Bukit Katil parliamentary constituency.

DAP is aiming high this time, hoping to win three additional state seats.

Calculated risk

State DAP chairman Goh Leong San told FMT said he would spearhead his party’s fight by contesting for a seat currently held by BN.

“I will contest in Duyung,” he said, describing the bid as a “calculated risk”. The seat is currently occupied by Gan Tian Loo, a heavyweight in Duyung.

“The racial composition in Duyung is 50-50 between Malay voters and non-Malays voters,” he said.

“Of course, I need at least 25% of Malays votes to win this seat. But I’m confident we will wrest the seat from BN as it is a semi-urban seat. The Malays here are exposed to issues that concern them and most of them are young voters.”

He said he was confident of getting 30% of the Malay votes, 80% of the Chinese votes and 50% of the Indian votes.

But he added that DAP would find it tougher in Kelebang and Bemban, although there was a “realistic chance” of it winning Kelebang, where Malays make up 55% of voters.

“The toughest seat will be Bemban, where 60% of the voters are Malays. But we’re working hard.”
N Ghandirajan, who co-chairs Bemban Pakatan Rakyat and is tipped to be a candidate for the seat, agreed that it would be tough going, but not hopeless.

The number of Malay voters there is 8,500. The Chinese account for 4,000 and the Indians 2,600.

Turnout rate

Ghandirajan said the maximum turnout in previous general elections hovered around 75% and he did not anticipate much of a change in the coming election.

He said Pakatan was quite confident of getting 2,000 votes from the Malays, 3,000 from the Chinese and 1,500 from the Indians.

Asked to explain Pakatan’s confidence in getting so much Malay support, he said PAS and PKR were working hard for that.

“PAS has promised that its members will contribute at least 100 votes in each of nine polling districts. That is already 900 votes. Another 100 votes will come from PAS supporters who are not registered as PAS members.

“Then there are about 400 Malay PKR members. We only need 600 more from Malays voters who are supporters without being Pakatan Rakyat party members, fence-sitters and those who are frustrated with BN.”

Just like in 2008, PAS will contest for 13 state seats, where victory might depend on strong support from Chinese and Indian voters.

The party is confident of winning Kuala Linggi, Lendu, Durian Tunggal, Asahan, Bukit Baru and Teluk Mas, according to its Malacca commissioner, Adly Zahari.

Young voters

A random FMT survey found that Malay voters in Kuala Linggi (72%), Lendu (75%), Durian Tunggal (68%) and Teluk Mas (70%) were not in favour of PAS. Only Asahan (58%) and Bukit Baru (59%) gave it a slight edge.

Asked to comment on this, Adly said: “Each seat has its merits. The Malays in Durian Tunggal and Teluk Mas are semi-urban and it would not be too difficult to get through to them with our manifesto and explanation of issues that plague BN.

“As for Kuala Linggi and Lendu, even though both are rural areas, we found there are large numbers of young voters there. To be straightforward, PAS is targeting Malay voters below the age of 40, who form 50% of Malay voters in these six seats.

“We need 40% of young voters to win all these six seats. We got 30% of Malay votes in 12th GE. So we just need to increase that by another 10%.

“I can say that almost 90% of the Chinese and Indians are with us. With their support, there is a real possibility of us winning the six seats.”

Adly also said he expected some “overflow impact” among Kuala Linggi voters from PKR-held Telok Kemang in Negeri Sembilan, which is just across the border from Kuala Linggi.

He said many Kuala Linggi voters were exposed to how PKR had been serving Teluk Kemang since 2008.

He added that he might contest in Durian Tunggal and that he expected a lot of support from young voters studying at a local university.

Durian Tunggal voters are composed of 68% Malays, 23% Chinese and 9% Indians.

Of the six seats that PAS is confident of winning, Bukit Baru seems to be the most dicey. It is Chief Minister Mohd Ali Rustam’s seat.

However, according to Adly, Mohd Ali is not as popular as the media make him out to be. In the last general election, he pointed out, Mohd Ali received the least majority votes among state chief executives.

Excessive spending

“In 2004 he defeated PAS candidate Bakrin Sidek with 5,992 majority of votes. In 2008, he defeated Bakrin again, but with only 2,708 majority votes.

“This time our onslaught will be focused on the excessive spending by Mohd Ali. Millions have been wasted on too many failed projects, like the Malacca Monorail, Eye on Malaysia, Go-Kart circuit and the Malacca International Airport.

“Some RM300 million was spent for the airport and there are only 12 flights in a week. By comparison, the Kota Baru airport conducts 16 flights per day.

“We will reveal more during the campaign period and we are confident the urban voters will make a wise decision this time.”

Meanwhile, PKR’s vice-chief in Malacca, G Rajendran, told FMT his party was confident of capturing the state seats of Rim, Machap, Gadek and Paya Rumput and the Bukit Katil parliamentary seat.

Malays account for 58% of voters in Rim, 39% in Machap, 54% in Gadek, 56% in Paya Rumput and 53% in Bukit Katil.

PKR is not setting high targets for the other three state seats it is contesting because of the predominance of Malay voters there. In Ayer Limau, Malays make up 90% of voters. The figures for Sungai Udang and Rembia are 86% and 64%.

Rajendran, who is also the Gadek PKR coordinator, said Gadek was winnable although the fight would be tough. The constituency is made of 6,700 Malay voters, 3, 724 Chinese voters and 1, 843 Indian voters.

“Assuming a 75% turnout,” Rajendran said, “PKR needs votes from 1, 500 Malays, 3,000 Chinese and 750 Indians to clinch a win.”

Going by similar calculations, he said Rim and Paya Rumput were also winnable, claiming, furthermore, that PKR and PAS had made impressive inroads into these constituencies since 2008.

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