Monday 4 June 2012

Re-taking FT: ‘Dream on’ BN

Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's confidence in winning more seats in the Federal Territories, where he is the BN chairman, has set tongues wagging 

PETALING JAYA: Over the weekend, Barisan Nasional expressed confidence of doing better in the Federal Territories (FT) in the 13th general election.

FT Umno liaison secretary Syed Ali Alhabshee even said BN could wrest back at least five parliamentary seats in FT which it lost in 2008 – Batu, Titiwangsa, Wangsa Maju, Lembah Pantai and Bandar Tun Razak.

However, Syed Ali’s prediction of a “reverse tsunami” did not sit well with Pakatan Rakyat leaders in the FT.

Cheras MP Tan Kok Wai said firmly that the “tide” was still with the opposition coalition, which always had a upper hand in the FT.

“I don’t think they can win even one, the tide is not in their favour. I still believe that we will return winning 10 seats, if not all 11, in the next election,” added the DAP FT state committee deputy

In 2008, BN only won three of the 13 parliamentary seats in the FT – Setiawangsa, Putrajaya and Labuan.

Tan said since the inception of the FT in 1974, the opposition usually won more seats than BN.

“Kuala Lumpur is where the electorate is different and just like in many capital cities in our neighbouring countries, are prone to support the opposition,” he added.

He said city folk were frustrated that even with 10 seats out of 11 in Kuala Lumpur, the opposition still could not take over the city’s administration.

“Even with so many seats, City Hall mayor is still appointed by the federal government. So I’m sure people realise that winning KL alone is not enough, they have to make sure we win Putrajaya and Labuan, so that we can really reach Putrajaya,” he added.

Tan said in Cheras, there had been “no visible candidate from MCA”.

“Nobody is making any initiatives, nothing at all. Not even pre-election campaign. Those who have been named seem not interested at all,” he claimed.

Tan said less than two years ago, Cheras MCA chairman Tee Hock Seng had openly called for the leaders of MCA to refrain from sending any candidate to Cheras.

“He said there was no hope of winning in Cheras; better save the resources. But BN is powerful and resource-rich, of course they will send someone regardless of whether they are hopefuls or hopeless,” he said.

PPP man: We’ll win more seats

However, PPP information chief and BN FT vice-chairman A Chandrakumanan was confident that BN would win back more seats in FT.

“We are confident that we will win back the seats,” he said, explaining that the political scenario had changed dramatically from 2008.

“People are fed up with the issues opposition leaders bring up. People want to know what they can get, how our transformation plan is working under the leadership of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin,” he added.

He said even in 2004, BN was “very close” to winning Bukit Bintang and even in 2008, BN almost toppled DAP’s Kepong Chinese-majority stronghold.

However, Chandrakumanan said despite his confidence in BN, the fight would still be “very tough”.

“At the end of the day, people want to live peacefully, with quality life, business, good shelter, good jobs. All these are provided by BN. What Pakatan is promising is just a vision or dream,” he added.

Chandrakumanan said BN was changing and he believed that the voters could see the changes. “Even Najib has even gone down and apologised for what wrongs BN has done,” he noted.

He said that in Bandar Tun Razak, where he is the PPP chairman, indications were clear that people wanted to support BN.

He added that the current MP for Bandar Tun Razak, Khalid Ibrahim, was too busy being both the menteri besar of Selangor and a state assemblyman.

“Don’t get me wrong. He can be a nice person but he has not delivered in Bandar Tun Razak. Don’t be overambitious: you want to be menteri besar and also an assemblyman, but you are depriving your voters,” he said.

Chandrakumanan said Khalid only started coming down to see voters recently, something BN had consistently done in the past.

“If BN was not there, Bandar Tun Razak would have been doomed. When people had a water crisis, the opposition was not there! It was BN, and DBKL who helped solved the issues of the people,” he added.

Chandrakumanan said the opposition would usually tackle issues by “making noise and instigating people to go against the government” rather than really helping them.

“Everyday spin, spin and spin. Like in Pantai Dalam, there are people whose houses have been relocated to another area, but [Lembah Pantai MP] Nurul Izzah [Anwar] asks people not to go. Why?
“Why is she making them lose everything for her political gain?” he asked.

‘Voters having mixed feelings’

Meanwhile, independent Wangsa Maju MP Wee Choo Keong said he felt voters were having “mixed feelings”.

“As far as I know, it’s still too early to tell at the moment [who will win]. I’m just doing as much work as we can for the people. I feel that there’s too much politicking at the moment. Everybody [BN and opposition] are saying they are confident,” he said.

Asked who was “politicking” more, Wee said it was the opposition who was ere making allegation after allegation that confused the public.

“Pakatan is good at giving negative impressions but are they doing their jobs? I doubt it. When we are making political allegations, it’s a very unhealthy situation,” he said.

He said the situation now was didfferent from 2008, when then prime minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi was unpopular even among BN and Umno.

The current government’s problem was inheriting the legacy of Abdullah.

Wee said instead of politicking, leaders should focus on “nation building” and “changing the system”, rather than on “changing the government”.

“If you only focus on dismantling the government… it will create a lot of political uncertainty and is not good for the country and economy,” he said, adding that a “Malaysian spring” would entail chaos.

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin also expressed confidence that BN would do better in the Federal Territories compared to 2008.

“This next election is a question of life and death for BN; it is do or die. It will be the deciding election of the success or ultimate failure of the coalition throughout the country,” he had said.

Muhyiddin, who is BN FT chief, also claimed that the opposition was using “psychological warfare” to manipulate the people’s minds.

He also warned that the opposition was trying to create a Malaysian version of the “Arab Spring” by taking to the streets.

‘Muhyiddin’s comments unbecoming’

Commenting on this, PAS FT commissioner Mohamad Noor Mohamad said Muhyiddin’s statements were unbecoming of a national leader.

“By giving out one-off rewards to voters, isn’t that much worse than using psychological warfare, which we are not doing in the first place?” he said.

“Saying that we are using Bersih to tell people that if we don’t win, we’ll cause chaos… this kind of accusation should not be coming from the government. The government is simply trying to put fear into the rakyat,” he said.

Mohamad Noor said that Umno FT’s statement to win five seats was also a “daydream”.

“If we go by the response of the public in Kuala Lumpur and based on other studies, support for us has risen. We are now working on winning the seats we lost in 2008, because we know that the ones we already have, we will retain,” he said.

Segambut MP Lim Lip Eng said Muhyiddin’s reference to a “mindwar” was unfounded.

“When there is a major event, transmission for Internet will be disrupted. Perhaps what Muhyiddin is actually saying is that BN is the one that uses ‘psywar’,” he said.

Lim said this time around, the GE13 would be the “dirtiest” ever.

“We’ll have character assassinations, by cooking up unfounded accusations, then all sorts of dirty tricks, including vote rigging,” he said.

Lim said the fight would be “very intense, especially since the Umno machinery has limitless financial means”.

“For Segambut, it will be an intense fight but I will try my best. People from urban areas know what is going on. Generally, Pakatan will win,” he added.

Lim said for his constituency, he was worried about the Malay votes this time around because in 2008, the Malay votes in his constituency were “not so convincing”.

“We’ve been doing a lot of community service. I’ve solved most of the potholes and rubbish issues.

I’ve also brought up a number of national issues. And I’ve managed to solve the traffic problem at Jalan Segambut,” he said.

Lim said the constituencies which would see a more “intense” fight were Batu, Wangsa Maju, Segambut, Titiwangsa and Lembah Pantai.

“However, I believe in Nurul and that she will win with a bigger majority. Everyone is supporting her. Tan Kee Kong of PKR is also working very hard in Wangsa Maju… Tian Chua’s Batu also has a very powerful machinery,” he said.

Lim predicted that safe seats like Kepong, Bukit Bintang, Seputeh, Cheras with DAP veterans would remain “untouchable”.

Kepong MP Tan Seng Giaw said urban voters were adequately exposed and “it would be very difficult for anybody from the BN to do anything fantastic in the FT”.

“If the wind is stronger, they may just lose everything,” he warned.

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