Teluk Intan’s diamond in the rough

30
May
2014
Posted by: saltmedia  /   Category: Essays   /   No Comments

By Fui K. Soong | fui.soong@cense.my

Driving through the main thoroughfare of Teluk Intan is hardly pleasant as traffic jams are seen as a curse of development in small towns. However, of late, this monotony is interspersed with sultry posters of Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, the DAP candidate. And you can’t help but wonder how the Opposition always gets to pick these yummy-looking princes and princesses of politics to parade their diamonds for them.

In contrast with the dreariness of the old establishment posters that almost always feature leaders lined up like pastry layers according to their seniority in the government or party — federal, state, candidate, or, party president, deputy president followed by the candidate. Sometimes, the size of the photo will indicate the said protocol is in accordance. No guesses who always gets the biggest photo on the posters!

While the BN candidate is always the last and smallest, nowhere in Dyana Sofya’s poster screams Lim Kit Siang or Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim or Datuk Nik Aziz. Her posters literally say, I am my own woman. And that message alone is no doubt a real hit with the younger voters.

According to Centre for Strategic Engagement (CENSE) survey, 42.1 per cent of the respondents among Teluk Intan’s registered voters think she has the qualities of being a good MP and that she is politically ambitious. Although, another good 40 per cent don’t really know her but there are no abhorrence or maliciousness towards her either.

At the last general election, Gerakan’s Datuk Mah Siew Keong lost the seat by 7,313 votes with an estimated support from the Malays of about 69.2 per cent, Chinese around 15 to 18 per cent and Indians at about 45 per cent.

Our projections say Barisan Nasional’s (BN) support could drop as much as 60 per cent. We believe most of that will stem from popularity of Dyana Sofya among the young Malay female voters who do see her somewhat of a rough diamond vindicated from her past, unpleasant brush with the “Perkasa” of the world. Thus, more personal attacks against her will only be the DAP’s gain. Chinese voters, including outstation voters that we sampled could give up to 20 to 23 per cent of their support to Mah. However, he is not faring too well among the Indians.

Surprisingly, we have found the Chinese are now much warmer towards BN with the MCA machinery working quite well alongside its nemesis in the fold, Gerakan. Teluk Intan was once an MCA seat having lost it to Gerakan, then in the Opposition, in 1969. Even in the face of death, one still can’t be certain if these two embattled parties will now finally see eye-to-eye to leave sleeping dogs lie and merge.

Gerakan’s strategy of making this by-election a referendum against hudud has minuscule traction. 53.1 per cent of the Chinese say that the community will not abandon DAP because of hudud, with only 18.8 per cent saying yes. Only 20.3 per cent of the Chinese respondents say that DAP should leave the coalition if PAS decides to implement hudud in Kelantan. In contrast, 42.2 per cent of Malays think that PAS should leave the coalition if DAP refuses to accept hudud.

The great thing about by-elections is that they allow us to peek into the evolving political landscape in subtle steps. Post General Election 13, citizens are digging their heels in on issues of religion.

PAS supporters say one must accept hudud as it is part of the party’s struggle. DAP supporters say they agree to disagree.

MCA and Gerakan stress without the mandate they are unable to fight. And Umno will implement hudud if they are pushed to the corner.

Some 60 per cent of the respondents say they want MCA and Gerakan back in Cabinet but barely a quarter of them are willing to vote for them to win in Teluk Intan.

Another evolving issue is the matter of Anwar Ibrahim’s waning influence in the Opposition since 2013. While over 50 per cent of the Chinese and Indian respondents want him to be the prime minister, only 26.3 per cent of the Malays say he has their thumbs up in occupying the top seat.

Of the 49.9 per cent Malays who say they do not want Anwar as the PM, most are between the ages of 21 and 40.

It is unlikely that the death of Perak ruler Sultan Azlan Shah will have an impact on polling day, except that campaigns will not have rousing undertones. Given these figures, Mah might end up where he ended in 2013, which is a loss of about 7,000 to 8,000 votes.

It looks like tired, old faces are no longer appealing in Malaysia anymore.

Published: The Malay Mail

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