Thursday, April 08, 2010
Hulu Selangor Barisan’s to lose
Barisan Nasional (BN) appears on track to retake the Hulu Selangor constituency, with leaders from the incumbent Pakatan Rakyat (PR) conceding it was an arduous task to retain the seat in the face of high approval ratings for Datuk Seri Najib Razak and a confident Umno.
The April 25 by-election is expected to see a straight fight between BN’s MIC candidate and PR’s PKR candidate. Both rivals have yet to announce their candidates ahead of the April 17 nomination day.
“It is an uphill battle for Pakatan Rakyat in Hulu Selangor. Najib is throwing every resource, skill, and trick to win the votes,” DAP strongman Lim Kit Siang told The Malaysian Insider
One of the reasons for PR’s tough challenge is the fact that Hulu Selangor is a BN bastion. In Election 2008, the PR candidate won by a mere 198 votes. All three state seats in the constituency went to BN.
Crucially, there were more than 1,000 spoilt votes, suggesting a major protest by voters — who are likely BN supporters — against the then-incumbent candidate, Datuk G. Palanivel from MIC.
But with the odds of Palanivel being chosen as the BN candidate shrinking by the day, another revolt by BN supporters, particularly those from Umno, looks unlikely.
“It is BN’s to lose but we cannot sit idly by and take for granted that we have now amassed support.
“We have a huge challenge because PR will also go all out to win the seat and use their strength as state government to defend the place,” Lenggong MP Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah told The Malaysian Insider.
The Umno MP also pointed towards a recent poll by the independent Merdeka Center, which he said showed voter confidence in the prime minister.
The Merdeka Center poll showed that 74 per cent of Malays polled were satisfied with Najib’s performance, while 77 per cent of Indians fell into the same category, indicating perhaps that the minority community has been won over by the PM’s symbolic gestures, including visiting Batu Caves during Thaipusam and his pledge to uplift the economic status of the Indian community.
BN’s defeat in Hulu Selangor in 2008, as well as in many other seats where they lost by small margins, was helped by the defection of Indian voters to the opposition.
If the national trend is repeated in Hulu Selangor, this will mean most Indian votes will return to BN.
With Indians accounting for 19.3 per cent of the 64,500 voters in Hulu Selangor, a swing towards BN could almost guarantee victory.
Malays make up the bulk of voters, 52.7 per cent of the electorate, and their votes were evenly split in Election 2008 between PKR and BN.
Most observers expect the majority of the Chinese votes, which make up 26.3 per cent of the total, to go to PR.
But PR leaders are continuing to give the Hulu Selangor campaign everything it has at its disposal.
Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim is leading the campaign and has so far announced that the state government would be awarding land titles “soon” to some 100,000 villagers who had been squatting on government land for at least 15 years.
“I think we have to still campaign rigorously and to explain to the people of Hulu Selangor that it is important that we should maintain a very successful opposition group in Parliament.
“And at the same time, the state is endeavouring to provide the best service to the people of Selangor,” Khalid told The Malaysian Insider yesterday.
Despite a refusal by both PR and BN leaders to acknowledge it, the Hulu Selangor by-election will be seen as a barometer of how the country — particularly in peninsular Malaysia — will vote in the next general election.
A win for PR will boost flagging spirits within the opposition coalition, which has been hit by a series of defections.
If BN takes the seat, it will not only be symbolic — to retake a seat it lost to PR in Election 2008 — but will also be a major boost for Najib, who has so far quelled rumblings of dissent among Umno warlords over the choice of BN’s candidate.
courtesy of Malaysian Insider