Sunday, May 5, 2024

Down to voters' turnout at KKB

Picking up where we left off on the Kuala Kubu Bharu by-election a week and a half ago after a week of campaigning, thus far, our take then has not been too far off. 

The result has no implication to the status of the present state or federal governments, but a loss to the incumbent PH will be a setback to the Unity Government (UG) in facing upcoming elections, and add worries for the general election in years to come. 

KKB is the first test case for a mixed constituency which is the mainstay of PH and an area PN need to penetrate to be a serious contender. 

It would be of interest to observe how UG manouvre to clawback the lost Malay ground from its lowest ebb. The usual political process seemed extraordinarily challenging under the current economic and geopolitical environment.

BN namely UMNO is in a "damn if I do and damn if I don't" situation to campaign for DAP. Nevertheless, each side have its fair share of internal issues and intra-party or -faction squabbles.  

PH started confidently from the weakness of PN's candidate, but after a week of campaign, both side seemed tired and hit the brick wall. One party leader flew to his home state infuriated and frustrated with the racial division of the campaign.

There is indication that either voters' political fatigue has sink in or they made up their mind. One highly reliable source monitoring campaign daily claimed it could come down to voters' turnout. 

Joceline Tan's assessment in Star Online today is within the same ballpark.

Accusations start to fly in KKB



Star Online Saturday, 04 May 2024

THE most controversial man in Umno, Dr Akmal Saleh, was upset that he has become “campaign material” in the Kuala Kubu Baharu (KKB) by-election.

A banner of the Umno Youth leader and Melaka assemblyman popped up in town showing him pointing his finger in an accusing manner with the caption: “Can boycott KK Mart but cannot boycott KKB. Please vote for DAP”.

It was a dig at Dr Akmal, that instead of living up to his reputation for boycotts, he or at least his party, is supporting DAP’s bid to defend the Kuala Kubu Baharu seat.

Dr Akmal has decried the banner as the work of cowards or “pondan,” as he put it.

[Note to Akmal: Its coming back to haunt and placed UMNO in a dilemma. Apparently, Nga Kor Meng was requested not to campaign at KKB. Could someone verify? 

Read back: "Rabble rouser" without a cause.]  

It was evidently the handiwork of Perikatan Nasional because the banner also bore the Umno logo in which the pair of keris has been replaced by two DAP rockets.

An effigy of the distorted Umno logo attracted much attention when it was displayed by Perikatan supporters on nomination day and quickly went viral because it was so naughty yet funny.

Cooperation between Umno and DAP is still a touchy thing, especially among the Malays and the two parties are still not comfortable about campaigning together. It is almost as though they are having a secret love affair where they cannot be seen holding hands in public.

Meanwhile, DAP’s campaign in the Chinese new villages that the area is known for has taken off like a house on fire. The Chinese have embraced DAP candidate Pang Sock Tao - her name means “Little Peach” in Chinese - as if she is their hometown girl.

The owner of a famous pandan cake shop in Kuala Kubu Baru town had even displayed a photo of “Little Peach” taken when she came by to campaign.

The power that DAP has over the Chinese is amazing. The Chinese accepted DAP’s call to vote for PAS years ago, they supported Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad because DAP asked them to and they have now followed DAP into partnering with Umno.

DAP is dependent on the Umno machinery to reach out to Malay voters because DAP’s own Malay politicians are quite useless in the Malay heartland.

“It is easier for our candidate to campaign in Chinese new villages than for their candidate to enter the Malay kampung,” said Bersatu deputy president Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu who is leading Periktan’s campaign in the town area.

KKB polls: Strategy shake-up in KKB

Perikatan’s Khairul Azhari Saut, being a local-born, has the recognition factor, with many Malays saying they know him or have seen him around.

However, DAP election campaigns have lost the oomph now that it cannot entertain people with scandals and stories about Umno and the Barisan Nasional government. All the bad things have been buried because DAP needs the support of some 4,000 Umno members located in KKB.

But DAP, being part of the ruling coalition, can now offer goodies.

 KKB Polls: Transport services, bill payment centre among promises

Moreover, the party has a powerful weapon to lock in the non-Malay votes, and that is their phobia of PAS. A number of billboards have sprung up, asking voters to “Stop the green wave” and “Defend KKB”.

On the other hand, the opposition has a plethora of issues to ride on. For instance, even the fact that former IGP Tun Hanif Omar, who played a big role in containing the communist threat that Kuala Kubu Baharu was known for, was not honoured with a burial in the Warriors Mausoleum is being played up in the campaign.

Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi’s comment that Umno must repay DAP’s support in previous elections is also being exploited by Perikatan as a sign of subservience to DAP.

“Umno needs to work hard. There are police and army personnel living here and also veteran Umno members who are still suspicious of DAP,” said former Batang Kali assemblyman Datuk Mat Nadzari Ahmad Dahlan.

Another former Batang Kali legend - Tan Sri Muhammad Taib - is also helping out. The former mentri besar changed the face of Selangor and should be able to woo the senior generation.

KKB has a sizable Malay middle-class population comprising civil servants and those who work in the university and factory in Tanjung Malim.

An aide to a former minister said many of these Malays supported Pakatan in the general and state elections because they were disenchanted with Umno.

“They live in nice houses with nice cars parked in the driveway,” said the aide.

Some of these Kuala Kubu Baharu Malays voted for Pakatan in last year’s state election because they were unaware that the candidate was from DAP but they are not making the same mistake again. They also said they are turned off by the Pakatan-Umno partnership.

“But guess what? They do not intend to vote for Perikatan either because they don’t want PAS,” said the aide.

The unsettled Indian mood has yet to be resolved and a Barisan event in Ladang Kerling on Thursday evening found almost every speaker criticising Dr P. Ramasamy, the former Penang deputy chief minister whose trenchant views of DAP seem to resonate with the Tamil Indians.

Ramasamy, known as “Prof,” has a reputation as an authority on Tamil issues and he is asking the Indian voters to vote for any other party but DAP. He has put the incumbent party on the defensive on Indian issues.

“The concern about the Indian mood is valid.

They had expectations about housing, Tamil school and temple. But I can confidently say that Indians who come out to vote will not vote for PAS,” said Datuk P. Kamalanathan, who was the former Hulu Selangor MP.

Kamalanathan’s pitch to the Indian base is to put someone whom they can talk to and who can continue with the projects that Indians need.

KKB Polls: All fishing for Indian votes in KKB

The incumbent party, according to political analyst Ivanpal S. Grewal, is up against some degree of antipathy because people are not feeling better now than one year ago.

“There is also economic distress because of the cost of living and this could translate into protest votes,” he said.

When Ivanpal stopped to buy fruits from a Malay stallholder in KKB on Wednesday afternoon, the man said he had been out there since morning and Ivanpal was his first customer.

The KKB by-election shows signs of political fatigue which could affect voter turnout.

With the Chinese vote in the bag, Pakatan needs a high Indian turnout to win.

On the other hand, Perikatan needs a robust Malay turnout to do well and it is also banking on vote swing from Umno members.

It will be a turnout game on May 11.

> The views expressed here are entirely the writer’s own.

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