Tuesday, April 13, 2010
BN sees easy shot with Zaid as goal keeper
Barisan Nasional sees an easy battle now that PKR is fielding former minister Zaid Ibrahim as its candidate for the Hulu Selangor parliamentary by-election.
For one, Zaid is not a local boy, and so he is not in touch with local issues which the upcoming by-election is expected to focus on. Worse still, he may not be able to blend with the locals, some voters here say.
The semi-urban voters of the constituency are mostly working in factories, plantations and their own land and bread-and-butter issues are their daily worries. National issues, which Zaid is fond of and which brought him into the limelight, are treated as “extraneous” and do not concern them.
“I heard of him (Zaid). PKR members told me he is a righteous man. It's good but what we want here is someone who can relate to us, someone who can help us solve our local problems such as licensing, garbage collection, developing the town so that our business can grow,” said one shop owner here.
But PKR de facto chief Anwar Ibrahim probably has other plans for Zaid. Anwar may be looking at the larger picture: Zaid is not just a man representing 64,500 voters; more importantly, he is someone who can be a great asset in Parliament to address the bigger issues.
While Anwar probably wants Zaid to be a national player as an MP, the main concern for the party now is how to sell Zaid to the local voters. The 198-majority votes garnered by the late Zainal Abidin Ahmad in the 2008 general election was “unreal” because it reflected more a general anti-government sentiment than a liking for PKR, according to folks here.
Office worker Rosmina Ismail, 44, said voters wanted someone whom they could relate to.
“The late Zainal Abidin was an intellectual but he came across as a people’s man whom the semi-urban voters could relate to. He was simple and down-to-earth.
“We thought PKR would have picked a local man but instead it chose a prominent personality, someone we find difficult to communicate with,” she said, with two friends nodding in agreement.
For BN, the early prediction of an uphill battle has now ceased as it sees Zaid a candidate with “loads of baggage”.
“It is good for us that PKR is fielding Zaid. It will be a pleasure to fight him here. Our chances of winning are better now since he has lots of baggage with him,” said Jerlun MP Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir.
The Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister believes that Zaid’s past disciplinary problems when he was in Umno will be his undoing.
Other BN MPs shared similar sentiments: the field is clear now and the goal post is wide open for a good shot; there is no need for a penalty.
Despite BN’s “feel good” sentiment, the ruling coalition is not without problems. With just two days to go for the coalition to name its candidate, squabbles within the MIC may just blow away BN’s chances of walking away with the coveted prize, come April 25.
Former three-time MP G Palanivel is still being pushed hard by party president S Samy Vellu while the preferred choice among Umno division members is MIC deputy Youth chief V Mugilan.
Whoever the candidate is, some local folks said they would prefer local boy Mugilan who is known to be affable and easy to get along with.
The ball is now in BN’s court: it must field a suitable candidate who can win the hearts and minds of the local people. More importantly, he must be someone who can effectively serve the people after the battle is over.
If BN fields the wrong candidate, then PKR may romp home with a bigger majority.