Happy Chinese New Year!
May the year of Ox brings peace, health and prosperity to everyone.
I must apologize for not doing any posting in my blog last week.
I was down with flu and was travelling to Penang and Kuala Terengganu and have no time to think and write.
Now, the verdict is out for the Kuala Terengganu by-election.
We have to accept the rakyat’s choice. In any by-election, the medias attention and campaign tend to be very intense with the candidates assuming an equally high media profile.
Conventional wisdom is that during by-election, it is to the advantage of the party in power. This do not seems to be true in this by-election.
BN cannot claim to have a massive and a formidable party organization. With 5 states under PR government, we have observed PR, especially PAS have also a huge party organization and are not lacking in its manpower and financial resources.
PR party has an added advantage that they can openly solicit donation even though they may have the financial resources. It evokes a lot of sympathy and commitment from the voters.
No seat is now a safe seat for BN or PR. While it may provoke competition among the parties, it will definitely intensify politicking both at local and national level.
Soon, there will be politicians who speak what the rakyat likes to hear and do popular things that may not be of national interest in long term, e.g. giving free pipe water, when water should be a scarce and is a limited resource.
BN cannot take any election lightly. BN not only need to change its way of managing the affairs of the country, there is a need also to change its campaign tactic.
The campaign strategy of BN has not change much. It has fixation with local developments and giving goodies.
BN leaders have to be more focused in solving local development and bread and butter issues throughout the year. There have to be more activities that are people friendly and interactive.
Attending and officiating a lot of 1000 people dinners is not going to help very much.
Recently, I was invited to officiate a cultural night in conjunction with the Chinese New Year. While the local MCA leaders have good intention, it has no political impact on the audience.
We have to start late because the local MP who is a Deputy Minister (from UMNO) can only come after prayer; the program starts only by 8.15p.m.
With 6 speakers, the program proper starts only at 9.45p.m., by then a lot of the crowd have left the hall, disappointed with the organizer, MCA. While we understand the Muslims need to pray, the organizer could have started earlier with speeches.
While speeches are delivered in Mandarin and the Deputy Minister obviously have no idea about the content of their speeches. So, while waiting for the MP’s arrival, they can start the function, the impact will be better.
The Chinese in Kuala Terengganu seems to support BN. While we are thankful for their support, we take recognition of several other factors:
1) The increase of 62 votes in Kg. Cina is minimal;
2) A lot of Chinese outstation voters, about 1200 of them out of over 8000 voters do not return to vote. A lot of these voters are of the younger age group and they are perceived to be anti-establishment;
3) The local ADUN who is also the state EXCO YB Toh Chin Yaw (from MCA) is a hardworking and popular local leader.
4) To be fair, the BN state government has been fair in distributing “Wang Ikhsan” to the non-Malays in Terengganu. Temples, Chinese schools, associations and the poor received significant yearly grant from the state government. This has gone down well with the Chinese.
What should be noted is that PAS collected about 40% of the Chinese votes. The Chinese are often regarded as anti PAS and from my experience, PAS candidate in Chinese constituency do not collect more than 20% of the votes.
If more and more start to accept PAS, then MCA and BN need to worry. We cannot rely on Hudud implementation and its punitive action to the community to convince the Chinese not to vote for PAS.
We have to do more and UMNO and BN need to do more to convince the non-Muslim that PAS is not an alternative to UMNO.
Hudud implementation in a multiracial country and its implication need to be explained to non-Muslim.
UMNO leaders cannot be more PAS than PAS leaders when they talk about Islam and other religions.
If the Chinese find UMNO leaders and PAS leaders the same, then PAS’ support among the Chinese will grow.
If some PAS leaders can go to Chinese temple and UMNO leader refuse to go – although this is all symbolic, then MCA will have more work to do.