Sunday, April 11, 2010

Chinese angry over a boast that Palanivel denies

Some in the Chinese community here are adamant they will not vote for Datuk G. Palanivel if he contests the April 25 by-election, over an alleged boast that he did not need their votes to win the 2004 general election with a 14,000 majority.

Their threat is a cause of concern for the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government, which will name its candidate on Thursday to win back the seat that the MIC deputy president lost in Election 2008 by a slim 198 votes.

“No sensible person will utter those words especially during an election time,” Palanivel told The Malaysian Insider by text message last night.

Entering a Chinese section in Batang Kali in Hulu Selangor yesterday. - Picture by Choo Choy May

The Selangor and Hulu Selangor MIC chief remains the sole party pick for the by-election but speculation is strong that his protege, MIC Youth deputy chief V. Mugilan or party information chief P. Kamalanathan are also being considered.

Of the three, Mugilan is said to have the brightest chance of being made the BN candidate although party president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu believes Palanivel can regain Hulu Selangor which he held for four terms from 1990.

“2004 was tough election because I was challenged by Ustaz Ismail Kamus, a PAS stalwart. The Chinese community supported very well, so much so that I even won the peti undi box of Batang Kali Chinese New Village. The first win for Parliament since 1959.

“That year Chinese voters strongly supported me. If that allegation was true they would not have supported me. Every time an election comes these are the allegations that will be hurled,” the 61-year-old politician said.

BN won handsomely in the 2004 general election with a 91 per cent mandate, the first held 22 years with Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi at the helm of the coalition instead of long-serving prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

But the coalition lost badly in Election 2008, losing four states and its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority which was blamed on unfulfilled promises to the electorate.

Palanivel pointed out he even heard rumours quoting him as saying he did not want Indian votes, who form a substantial 19.3 per cent of the 64,500 electorate in Hulu Selangor.

Another Sunday in a Chinese section of Hulu Selangor. - Picture by Choo Choy May

“After winning or before winning I am not the type to tell I don’t want votes from any community. They will always be someone to start these rumours. I cannot be the source of these rumours,” he stressed.

“In fact, after winning the vote box of Batang Kali New Village in 2004, I held a function to thank the Chinese votes for the historic win,” Palanivel added.

But several Chinese voters told The Malaysian Insider they had heard stories of Palanivel’s boast but were unable to determine when and where it was made.

All, however, believe that the journalist-turned-politician did say something to that effect sometime in 2004 after the year’s general elections.

“When Palanivel retained the seat by 14,483 votes in 2004, he boasted that he didn’t have to depend on Chinese voters to win,” a pensioner who called himself Koh told The Malaysian Insider.

Batang Kali resident Tan Chee Heng, 40, who owns a motorcycle shop, had also heard the same tale. He said, because of this, “Orang Cina cukup benci dia.” (The Chinese really hate him.)

A former BN component party member who did not want to be identified said he, too, had gotten wind of the same story. “I do not know when but he did mention something like that.”

He said another reason the Chinese community was over an unfulfilled promise. Palanivel had promised in 2007 to allocate funds to Sze Yah Kong Temple but did not keep to his word, and when he was asked about this in 2008 before the general elections, he allegedly said that he would give the temple the money if they voted for him.

An MIC member who also declined to be named said he was present when Palanivel made his boast, although not in the way the Chinese perceive it to have been.

He said Palanivel, speaking at Ampang Pecah in 2004 after successfully defending his seat, had told residents there he only needed Felda votes to win.

Palanivel apparently said this when chastised by the residents there for being unresponsive to their requests outside of election period.

The local community had called him there to survey damage done to their homes by repeated flooding.

The MIC member ventured that this incident perhaps gave rise to the idea among the Chinese community that Palanivel had boasted about not needing their backing, as it was implied in his statement that he did not need to depend on any minority voters.

The Hulu Selangor seat fell vacant following PKR MP Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad’s death last March 25.

There are 64,500 registered voters in Hulu Selangor, with 63,701 regular voters and 799 postal voters. Malays make up the majority of the total with 34,020 voters (52.7 per cent,) followed by Chinese with 16,964 voters (26.3 per cent) and Indians at 12,453 voters (19.3 per cent).

courtesy of Malaysian Insider

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