Bagan Pinang voters unlikely to pull off a Lunas or Teluk Intan

DAP international secretary Liew Chin Tong concurred that a “Teluk Intan” or “Lunas” happening in the Bagan Pinang by-election was difficult on the backdrop of postal voters representing a third of the constituency and with a former menteri besar contesting the seat.

“Urban voters also hate corruption and urban Malays are always in favour of cleaner politicians representing them. In fact, the urban population are aware of corrupt and malpractices of politicians since the Reformasi days,” Liew, who is Bukit Bendera MP, pointed out.

“We are clearly the underdog in this by-election,” he said when asked on PR’s chances at this stage of the campaigning.

Besides base voters, Liew also said PR was optimistic of securing the support of fence-sitters, riding on other national issues such as the RM12.5 billion Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal, death of political aide Teoh Beng Hock and A Kugan’s death in custody.

Bagan Pinang voters are unlikely to write history by pulling off a stunning turnaround like that of the “Lunas” and “Teluk Intan” by-elections due to the popularity of the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Tan Sri Isa Samad and his ability to counter issues surrounding the state, a political analyst said.

He said Bagan Pinang voters would find it more appealing that a former menteri besar with 22 years experience helming the state was contesting, adding that the older generation, in particular the Malay voters, would be able to gauge his contribution to the state and in ensuring their well-being.

He noted it would be difficult for voters to reject Isa who has a proven track record in bringing development, industrial zone and tourism to the state, adding that voters would not merely reject BN just because it had lost six by-elections it contested in the peninsula since March 8, 2008.

“It will still boil down to infrastructure, development and welfare of the people in the semi-urban constituency. This is what a state government can offer,” the overseas-based political analyst familiar with local politics told The Edge Financial Daily today.

According to him, Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) harping on Isa’s Umno suspension might backfire as the opposition pact itself has leaders that were once convicted of crimes but now holding high-ranking positions in the party.

He pointed out that PR could also not seek Bagan Pinang’s mandate for a stronger opposition block in the Negri Sembilan legislative assembly as the opposition pact already controlled 15 of the 36 seats, stressing that the only contentious issue affecting the state might be the water privatisation project early this year.

“While overturning a 2,333-vote deficit is mathematically possible, the chances for a Lunas or Teluk Intan happening is slim as national issues cannot be re-used too many times for campaigning,” the political analyst added.

Nevertheless, he said BN should not expect a big victory either as the majority of non-Malay voters seemed to have made up their minds to favour PAS candidate Zulkefly Mohammad Noor following some contentious social and racial issues that seemed to have dented their feelings lately.

In the 1997 Teluk Intan by-election, DAP managed to wipe out the 13,968-vote majority held by BN two years earlier by capturing the parliamentary seat with a 2,916-vote majority. Three years later at the Lunas by-election, PKR (then KeADILan) overturned BN’s 4,700-vote majority in the state constituency in 1999 to win with a slim 530-vote margin.

Meanwhile, Negri Sembilan opposition leader Anthony Loke confirmed DAP had lodged a police report at the Port Dickson district police headquarters at about noon today on two books purportedly inciting racial sentiments that were distributed in Bagan Pinang.

He said PR would double its effort to preach “inclusive” politics to the voters and urged them to reject racial politics as practised by Umno-led BN, adding that it was important for voters to critically determine if they were satisfied with the state’s administration and the overall system in place.

Describing the PR campaigning progress “so far so good,” Loke, who is Lobak assemblyman, pointed out that the by-election was not so much on personalities but whether the voter sentiment would send a strong message that could further strengthen the opposition pact’s credibility.

The Edge

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