Tuesday, April 22, 2014

BN: To Contest Or Not In Bukit Gelugor, Bernama, 22 April 2014


By Alan Ting

KUALA LUMPUR (Bernama) -- Will Barisan Nasional (BN) contest in the Bukit Gelugor by-election after the parliamentary seat fell vacant following the death of its incumbent Karpal Singh?

BN has indirectly hinted that the party would likely contest the seat when its secretary-general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor said that it was up to BN's component MCA to decide as the coalition will honour the existing agreement on the seats.

However, some think tank and politicians believe BN should reconsider contesting the seat where 74 percent of the voters are Chinese with the odds very much against BN.

"The odds are very much against them especially with sympathy votes expected from Penangites which means anybody contesting under DAP's banner will definitely win. This is what we call sympathy surplus.

"This sympathy surplus will be much stronger if the next of kin of the late DAP national chairman is being fielded such as his son Ramkarpal," said Gerakan linked think tank Socio-Economic Development and Research Institute (SEDAR) Executive Director Ivanpal S. Grewal.

It would not be a bad idea for BN not to contest the seat and allow Ramkarpal or whoever from DAP to win like what happened when second Prime Minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein passed away in 1976.


Following the sudden demise of Razak in 1976 that left the Pekan seat vacant, the BN decided to field Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.

The national outpouring of grief following Razak's death and the respect for his father s tremendous contributions to Malaysia's development saw Najib elected unopposed as Member of Parliament at the very young age of 23.

"BN should look at this precedence. Giving the tragic circumstances of Karpal Singh's death, maybe BN should not field a candidate at all with national interest in mind, unlike the forced and ill conceived Kajang state by-election engineered by Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)," he remarked.

Karpal Singh, 74, died in an accident at the North-South Expressway near Gua Tempurung, in Kampar, Perak last Thursday. His personal assistant, Michael Cornelius, was also killed.

Similarly, some political analysts believe it is better for BN to concentrate on other issues and work to strengthen Penang BN itself in preparation for the next general election.

"If you look at the past three general elections results for the seat, it clearly indicated the majority had increased tremendously, more than 100 percent. In 2004, DAP won with a 1,261 majority, in 2008 with a 21,015 majority and in 2013 with a 42,706 majority," said political analyst and senior lecturer at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Dr Sivamurugan Pandian.

He said though the by-election could serve as an avenue to gauge the support for BN, the Bukit Gelugor by-election would not provide any much changes and more time is needed to prepare BN to face bigger battle in Penang during the 14th General Election.

Based on the 2013 electoral roll, there were 82,042 voters with 61,112 being Chinese, 11,880 Malays, 8,660 Indians and 390 others.

All the three state seats under Bukit Gelugor - Seri Delima, Paya Terubong and Air Itam - were also won by the candidates from DAP.

Most of the voters in the constituencies come from professional and middle class, particularly from Minden Heights and USM.


However, some still believe that the BN should contest regardless of the uphill battle that the party has to face.

"There is no doubt DAP will win the by-election. However, BN still has to contest because as a political party you cannot just give a walkover," said Penang based political analyst Datuk Cheah See Kian.

"If you give a walkover to DAP, the people will laugh at you. As a political party, MCA can field one of their young candidates and put the party's strategy to work. Win or lose is secondary," he added.

"No doubt that Karpal Singh won by 42,706 majority in 2013 and 21,015 in 2008. However, given much flux in the Malaysian politics, popularity is not a static concept," said MCA Central Committee member Datuk Ti Lian Ker.

In fact, he pointed Karpal Singh s history as a case in point, when in 2004, the DAP leader won Bukit Gelugor by a much smaller margin of 1,261 votes.

However, in 1999, he lost the Jelutong seat, which he had held for five consecutive terms by just 775 votes.

"In 2008 and 2013 general elections, BN-MCA still got the average of 14,000 over votes despite the bigger majority (obtained by the DAP)," Ti said, adding that contesting in the by-election is not just about winning but more on giving chance to the party second liners to contest.


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