Thursday, April 01, 2010

BN stronger in Hulu Selangor without Palanivel

Barisan Nasional’s (BN) chances in the upcoming Hulu Selangor by-election may improve if it puts up any other candidate than MIC deputy president Datuk G. Palanivel, according to a straw poll conducted by The Malaysian Insider.

Malays voters say they would accept and vote for an MIC candidate but Indians, who form 19 per cent of the 60,000-strong electorate, are opposed to the idea of Palanivel standing there again despite MIC pushing his name.

“Not Palanivel,” barber A. Rao told The Malaysian Insider at his Bukit Sentosa shop here.

Palanivel was the Hulu Selangor MP from 1990 until Election 2008, where he lost narrowly by 198 votes to Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad, whose death last week triggered the impending by-election.

Rao called for a fresh face from BN and was opposed to Palanivel being fielded again, complaining that he had never seen the former MP in the area despite reports the MIC man had been working the ground for months, to shore up support in anticipation of a by-election.

He said most of his customers, whether Indians, Chinese or Malays, supported the BN.

“I don’t know what the PR (Pakatan Rakyat) government has done in the last two years. At least under the previous BN administration, Indian temples receive funds but now we only have unfulfilled promises,” added Rao.

His sentiment against the MIC No. 2 was shared by MK Sekaran, 69, who runs a restaurant in Kuala Kubu Bharu, not far from where Palanivel has his service centre.

The MIC member, who has been voting since 1964, expressed disappointment with Palanivel’s leadership.

“He did not do enough when he was MP,” Sekaran said.

S. Shanmugam agreed, saying he was not only disappointed with Palanivel but also disillusioned with BN.

“I have always been a BN supporter and voted for them in five general elections, including the last one, but I see PR has brought more change in the last two years,” Shanmugam added.

The 52-year-old retiree from Bukit Beruntung was among the minority who felt that PR stood a good chance of retaining the parliamentary seat.

But to Norlina Mohd Noor, Palanivel’s shock lost to Zainal two years ago was just a fluke.

The 44-year-old housewife and Umno member from Bukit Beruntung claimed many voters had confused the late PKR MP with former Umno Batang Kali state lawmaker Datuk Zainal Abidin Sakom.

“Many of the voters are old and were confused because the names are so similar,” she said.

She said Umno members had no problem voting for any candidate from MIC, although there has been some push to nominate former mentri besar Tan Sri Muhammad Muhammad Taib, who was previously the Batang Kali state lawmaker.

“That was only a proposal from Umno but we will honour our commitments with MIC.”

She pointed out BN took all the state seats — Kuala Kubu Bharu (MCA), Hulu Bernam (Umno) and Batang Kali (Umno) — in the last elections.

Her husband, Rusli Muhammad, 49, said Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was also not popular in the area.

“I don’t trust him,” said the former Air Force warrant officer who is now self-employed.

Contractor Ferdaus Sulan, 44, said he would prefer if the seat was given to Umno and for Muhammad to be nominated, because the majority of people in the constituency were Malays.

“But if MIC is chosen to contest, we will give the party our support.” said the Umno supporter.

Ubim Ahmad, originally from Kelantan but now residing in Bukit Beruntung, said voters would likely “return to their roots” by voting BN in the by-election.

“PAS or PKR may have some supporters but not enough.”

However, most Chinese who spoke to The Malaysian Insider were either undecided or clearly on the side of PR.

Eddy Shee from Bukit Sentosa, said although BN seemed to be enjoying widespread support, it did not mean they would win.

“That may not be the case. People will vote for the candidate who can assure them of development in the area,” said the 36-year-old wireman.

In Kuala Kubu Bharu, Cheng Ming Chee said the community was fully behind the PR-led state government.

The phone shop owner said residents of the Asam Kumbang New Village had received a 60-year lease for their homes from the state.

He said the village had over 400 homes and more than two-thirds got the lease.

“All this while, MCA (which won the Kuala Kubu Bharu state seat) did nothing. At least we see some improvement under PR,” said businessman Low Chee Keong, 53.

His younger brother Chee Chuan, 46, who runs a jewellery shop in the small town said they had no problems in Kuala Kubu Bharu and were happy with the state government.

“There are no problems, I can retire here.” he concluded.

Malays make up 53.9 per cent of the more than 60,000 voters in the seat while the Chinese constitute 26.7 per cent, with other races stand at 0.41 per cent.

courtesy of Malaysian Insider

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