Wednesday, February 13, 2013

'More Penang Voters Sitting On The Fence', Free Malaysia Today, 13 February 2013

More Penang voters sitting on the fence
Free Malaysia Today

GEORGE TOWN: The number of fence-sitters (undecided voters) in Penang has grown in the past few months with the general election around the corner, says an academician.
Universiti Science Malaysia’s political scientist Sivamurugan Pandian said this is largely because of developments in Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat.
He said that on the BN side, the ruling coalition has been dangling many “carrots” such as handing out RM500 to those who qualify under the BR1M aid scheme.
It has also been making promises to solve socio-economic problems such as resolving housing woes and traffic congestion.
Other “carrots” dangled include building a monorail (public transport), reviving the free port status for the under-performing Penang Port and new incentives to boost healthcare, tourism and manufacturing.
On the Pakatan side, the opposition has been hit by a series of controversies such as the Allah issue, and the nomination of PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang to be the prime minister if Pakatan wins.
On the Allah row, PAS took a different stand from PKR and DAP when its Syura Council ruled that Christians cannot use the word Allah in the Malay-language Bibles.
Then came reports that PAS was not in favour of Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim becoming the next prime minister, which Hadi has since denied.
Do all these developments mean that BN has an edge over Pakatan? Or that Pakatan is crumbling?
Sivamurugan said nobody can predict for now, but the fact remains that more people are now undecided over who deserves to lead the country.

Act of desperation

In one corner is BN led by the “1Malaysia” campaign founder and Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and in the other, is his nemises, Anwar, who continues to “sell” the storyline that the country is on the wrong track because of corruption, nepotism and cronism.
BN is trying hard to endear itself to the people with some initiatives that it hopes will translate into favourable “ratings” for its popularity.
For example, Sivamurugan said BN brought over South Korean online rap superstar, Psy (Park Jae-sang), here to usher in the Chinese New Year.
It was part of the state BN’s Lunar New Year open-house celebration.
It was reported that a crowd of some 100,000 jammed the Han Chiang Private College ground here to watch Psy perform his “Gangnam” style song and dance.
This will no doubt have an impact on the fence-sitters here, said Sivamurugan.
He believes that both BN and Pakatan have their respective share of traditional supporters and voters.
Meanwhile, state PKR committee member S Raveentharan believes that Pakatan enjoys the support of the bulk of the non-Muslims.
The Batu Uban assemblyman said the Chinese and Indian voters are largely with Pakatan and now, it is the Malays who must decide.
He said BN’s move to “enlist” Psy is an act of desperation to win over voters, especially the fence-sitters in Penang.
He said the money spent on Psy could be better used for helping the disabled.
He also dismissed claims of a split in Pakatan, saying that the visit by PAS spiritual adviser Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat to DAP chairman Karpal Singh’s home during the Thaipusam celebration, showed the opposition was united. It also sent the right message to the fence-sitters.

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