On the 30th March morning, I arrived in Simpang, a Chinese new village in the constituency of Bukit Gantang. Accompanied by BN candidate Ismail, the MCA Bukit Gantang division chief Datuk Ho Cheng Wang, the former MP and Ketua Wanita Gerakan Datuk Tan Lian Hoe, we started our door-to-door campaign.
Simpang is a prosperous Chinese new village, which is filled with a very busy market and a lot of hawkers. We made our usual rounds of introducing our candidate. I am surprised that almost all the residents and hawkers recognize me and call me in full name. Majority is friendly but some obviously have no warmth in their response to our request to vote for BN.
During our round, we met with PKR and DAP members, mostly young and middle aged Chinese men and women. It was a friendly encounter with exchange of pleasantry.
I was disappointed that the candidate and the MCA and UMNO members who follow us did not bring in a lot of campaign materials. In this respect, the PR group did a better job, at least in campaign materials, which were devoted to criticizing both the state and federal government. Somehow, BN have not done enough to counter a lot of these allegations in written form. Over a period of time, some of these allegations will be made to appear to be the truth. There is this famous saying that ‘if you repeat your lie often enough, it do not become a lie anymore’.
BN machinery needs to brush up in campaign materials. We must not forget that PR after its victory is in high spirit. It now has more motivated members and more resources in waging this election war. From the banners, party flags, t-shirts and badges, it is obvious that PR today have resources that can match BN.
In Bukit Gantang, BN will be facing an uphill battle. Here, we are facing a candidate who is a former MB of Perak. Although he is only MB for 1 year, but the controversy surrounding the fall of the Perak state government have generated so much of interest that he became a well-known personality over a night. Apparently, he is also a popular figure and some command of Chinese dialect and mandarin that he possesses have been also of great help.
I am disappointed that he chose to avoid the press. I can understand how some of the press treats opposition members. One must not also forget how the press selectively treats people from BN. The best is to tolerate them and regard it as occupational hazards. I too, have personal problem with one English media who is out to gun me down. As usual, I take it in my strike.
MCA leaders should be prepared to walk the extra mile by going door-to-door campaigning. While it is time consuming and saps your energy, it is worth the effort. That morning, we walk for 2 ½ hours. Many issues were brought up by the local residents, including a land issue of an Indian temple, which happens to be sited next to the market.
Issues brought up should be followed up so that it then could be resolved. Hence, the walkabout is not just smiling and shaking hands. It needs coordination between local, state and central leaders to effectively resolved issues that are brought up. Then only the rakyat is convinced that you do care and you are genuinely there to serve and not just a political showmanship of vote getting, but no problem solving.
I know some MCA leaders do not like my frankness when it comes to telling the truth to the voters. It’s an old habit that dies hard.