Saturday, May 24, 2014

'Teluk Intan By-Election: Imported Or Local Candidate?', Bernama, 23 May 2014


By Hafizah Kamaruddin, K. Ghandi and Samantha Tan Chiew Ting

TELUK INTAN (Bernama) -- If the results in the four previous general elections for the Teluk Intan parliamentary constituency were to be an indicator, the voting trend would lean towards a homegrown representative.

DAP seems to be ignoring Teluk Intan residents' preference for a local to represent them by fielding a candidate who is not only an outsider but a young Malay woman.

Is the DAP so confident that their supporters would not mind changing their preference even for the party?

Many residents when met by Bernama, were unsure about saying yes because to them, voters in Teluk Intan had always been insistent about having a local representative.

Self-employed Eric Tan said voters would be happier with a local representative, whom they could easily meet and communicate, compared to an 'imported' representative.

"We did have that problem in the past and the representative was always not around," he said.

In the 1999 general election, voters chose local Datuk Mah Siew Keong from the Gerakan, who served for two terms until 2008 and local Seah Leong Peng from the DAP, who also served for two terms, from 2008 until his death on May 1 this year.

Tan said the DAP's choice of Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, 27, as their candidate was outside the norm and likened it to the DAP's decision in the 80s to field Fadzlan Yahya in the 1986 general election.

In the three-corner contest among Fadzlan, BN (Gerakan) candidate Ong Tim Kim and PAS candidate Nadzri Baharuddin, Ong won by a majority of 1,443 votes.

However Fadzlan won the Pasir Bedamar state seat, a DAP stronghold with 10,845 votes, defeating BN candidate Gan Loot Heng who obtained 7,667 votes.

The DAP former vice president held the seat for three terms.

Meanwhile, Teluk Intan MIC Youth Chief Sri Murugan said an imported representative would have difficulty looking after the interest and welfare of the constituents and would not understand the needs and expectations of the residents.

He said, should the DAP candidate win, she would not only fail to fulfil the pledges made during the campaign but would not be able to resolve problems faced by the residents.

"The situation is different with BN's candidate Datuk Mah Siew Keong as he is a local. Even when he lost in the election, he would still assist us, regardless of whether we were Malay, Chinese or Indian. If we had a problem, we could always meet him," he said.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (Social Science Studies) political analyst, Associate prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian opined that DAP's hardcore supporters might undertake a protest vote or refrain from voting to demonstrate against the party's decision to field an outsider and non-Chinese.

"Many factors can contribute to the protest. It can be the factions from within the party in Teluk Intan, the hudud issue and factions at state level," he said.

Sivamurugan said if the protest votes were substantial it might move the parties within the opposition to review their alliance.

Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) independent political analyst Datin Paduka Prof Dr Ramlah Adam said DAP appeared to belittle Teluk Intan voters by fielding an outsider and political freshie.

"Can residents trust her as their representative? Can she talk about the hudud...even though she is a lawyer but not syariah," she said, adding that a protest vote campaign against DAP could possibly happen.

Universiti Putra Malaysia, Economy and Management senior lecturer M. Neelamehan advised Teluk Intan voters to vote wisely and choose a representative who could bring change and benefit to them.

The Teluk Intan by-election will see a straight fight between Mah and Dyana. The seat fell vacant when Seah, 48, succumbed to cancer at Universiti Malaya Medical Centre recently.


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