Year 2009 will be a tough year for everyone. The financial turmoil and meltdown in America has become a global issue and Malaysia is not spared as well.
Politically, we are confronted with the Kuala Terengganu by-election. Although the outcome of the by-election will not change the power of BN at the Federal level; however, it is significant in many other aspects.
A few issues to ponder upon in this by-election:
1) The reputation of Deputy Prime Minister and the Prime Minister in waiting Dato’ Sri Najib Tun Razak is at stake as he is leading the campaign.
2) Will Malay voters support UMNO and BN in a state where political awareness is high and no seat is regarded as safe?
3) Will the Chinese, whose number 8787 (11.4%) support UMNO and BN candidates for in the 308 election? The BN candidate for Parliament constituency actually lost in the Chinese majority area.
This battle is very different from Permatang Pauh since there is no brand name candidates. They are all local boys.
All the big guns from the political divide will be on the battleground, more so to influence fence sitters.
For the Malay voters, majority has their inclination and political affiliations. Off course there are the minority who are the fence sitters.
However, the Chinese voters’ inclination is difficult to gauge. Nonetheless, the core group of MCA supporters is always there.
Since this is by-election, there will be a lot of door-to-door campaigning.
I always suspect its effectiveness if it is not done properly and often more to show that some leaders are ‘working hard’ for BN.
Often the VIP leaders are surrounded by a lot of followers and really there is little interaction between the candidates and the voters.
I often prefer the low-key approach where small group by BN workers, who are local leading the VIP leader and candidate going from house to house with interaction and problem recorded, with follow-up action to resolve and not a quick swing as if the voter will vote a particular candidate because he has the opportunity to shake the hand of the VIP and the candidate.
Gone are those days where voters are excited to see the VIPs. They have seen them too often in television and print media and there is no thrill to the voters anymore.
The soft touch is the preferred method of campaigning. Handouts will be undertaken by both the political divide. It may influence the small number of fence sitter. It is often a question of since it does no harm, why not do it?
For BN, public rally often do not attract the crowd. It can be disheartening, as most voters like to hear speakers critical of government. Government policies are boring topics.
On national issue, I suspect that it will not figure out prominently. Development issue, especially local issues will definitely be exploited to the full by PAS. Often there are weaknesses and poor delivery system of the local council. This will haunt the BN candidates. This time, it will not be an exception.
I understand that there are local issues that have not been resolved like flood, poor drainage system, shops use for bird nest cultivations and completed project without CF.
Rapid resolution of these problems will do the BN candidate a lot of good.
Of course I am involved in the by-election campaign.
Happy campaigning and good luck!