In early May, I was invited to give a talk to the Nanyang University Alumni Association in Section 13, Petaling Jaya.
During the Q and A session, the chairman of the session as well as the president of the association asked for my view on the 2 oncoming by elections , the one in Bukit Gelugor and Teluk Intan.
I ventured to say that it would be an easy walk for DAP in Bukit Gelugor, and I saw the audience all nodding their heads in agreement.
But when I opined that in Teluk Intan, Parti Gerakan stands a good chance of winning if Dato Mah is the candidate, I saw many skeptical looks among the audience.
Some in the audience spoke out against my opinion, saying that DAP had won the seat by a handsome margin just one year ago, and that the Chinese votes would still very much be with DAP.
I explained that in my analysis, DAP’s s Chinese support at 85% last year was already the maximum any party can hope to achieve. When you have reached the maximum, logic would have it that the support level can only either be maintained or be lower.In a by election, since it does not involve tilting the balance of power, it would be likely to be the latter.
I told the audience that this is especially so because in those PR administered states, there is nothing really spectacular, nothing to shout about so to speak.
In Selangor, the power struggle in PKR reminds people of UMNO politics and the KIdEX Highway put many intellectuals off. Though Teluk Intan is far away, many of its voters actually reside in Klang Valley and these people would be showing disinterest( as well as influencing folks at home) to go back to vote once they perceive that PR is not really that much of a better alternative. By approving the Kidex HIghway, the MB was deemed to be arrogant and went against the manifesto of his own party.
So i expected the Chinese support to decrease, and to counter this, DAP would have to bang on an increase in Malay support that must be sizeable enough to counter the loss of Chinese support. In this, I don’t see how they can do so. (AT that time , DAP has not announced the candidacy of a young Malays woman; later when the party made its choice, I thought it was a brilliant strategy by the part of the Senior Lim of DAP, to counter the expected loss of Chinese votes but it was still not enough).
The hudud issue also put many people off. In this, DAP truly misses the presence of the late Karpal SIngh. With Karpal SIngh died an untimely death, many are of the opinion that DAP does not have another one with the stature to stand up to PAS in the hudud issue. The hudud issue glaringly shows that it was a case of “sleeping in the same bed but having different dreams”, as the Chinese proverb goes, and it has helped to reduce Chinese support for DAP, but at the same time did not do much to win Malay support for Pakatan.
Then I mentioned too that Mah, the likely candidate for BN, would be an asset. He is well known in the constituency, being a very hard working MP for 2 terms, and by virtual of being the president of Gerakan, a win for him would certainly mean a cabinet position of some sort, which would help bring development to Teluk Intan.
So all in all, at that session of talk, I thought Mah would have a very good chance to win.
I was proven right.
SO what does it mean in the politics of Malaysia? FIrstly, the win would be a morale booster for Parti Gerakan; a loss would have put another nail in the coffin, but a win would be like an adrenaline jab in an ailing heart, it would strengthen the party to a certain extent.
In the bigger context, PR would have to review its strategy and perhaps relook at the policies in states under its administration. Even in Penang, there are starting to have some voices expressing disilusionment with the administration. The coalition has gone through 2 GEs, but yet it still cannot function as a cohesive unit. PR campaigned on the promise of Change, but how much change are we seeing ? Many of the things that PR used to criticise BN, like changing new state luxury cars and overseas travel, some of its leaders are doing as well…
Teluk Intan should be taken as a wake up call to DAP in particular and PR in general. No party is invincible in politics. If it cannot deliver what it has promised, then after one or two terms, people will get disillusioned and vote the other way.
That is the essence of the pendulum theory.