Saturday, April 10, 2010

Land on the Chinese mind in Hulu Selangor

While political parties decide on their candidates for the Hulu Selangor by-election, the Chinese electorate there know what they will vote for on April 25 — land titles.

The Chinese form 26.3 per cent or 16,964 out of Hulu Selangor’s 64,500 voters but most are still landless despite settling down in the 13 new villages in the area for more than three decades at the height of the communist insurgency.
Selangor MB, Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim enjoyed a 'hero-like greeting' in Hulu Selangor last night. - Picture by Choo Choy May

Selangor Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim has changed that in the past few weeks, saying the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) state government will now give 99-year leases to families who have stayed there for more than 15 years.
The policy will affect some 100,000 families of all races.

Batang Kali municipal councillor Ong Thiam Hock believed Khalid had definitely captured the hearts of the Chinese voters through the populist policy aimed at sustaining PR’s power base there.

“It is such an important issue for not just the Chinese but other races as well in Hulu Selangor and the MB’s announcements will be of advantage to PKR,” Ong told The Malaysian Insider.

A testament to this is the hero-like greeting Khalid has been receiving at Chinese dominated areas here during the party’s unofficial campaigning trail.

At a visit to the Ulu Yam Bharu town last night, the Selangor MB was greeted by close to a thousand cheery residents.

And as expected, the former corporate figure went straight for the charm offensive, boasting that his administration had managed to do what BN had failed for decades.

“I don’t want to talk much, I just want to work. The more you talk the more you sound like BN with their empty promises…the land titles we give shows we walk the talk,” he said to a roar of applause.

Most of the Chinese had previously voted for the BN, returning possible MIC candidate Datuk G. Palanivel for four terms from 1990 to 2008, apart from the coalition’s state assemblymen within the parliamentary constituency in the hopes of getting land titles but to no avail.

“A check with the land office has indicated that most of their applications have not been entertained,” said David Loh, a Serendah municipal councillor.

“And then Mentri Besar (Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Khir Toyo) had ordered the rejection of their application if they were not replied to after 2006,” he added.

Serendah is one of the 13 Chinese new villages within the sizable Hulu Selangor federal seat, which is as big as the state of Malacca.

Loh said most Chinese voters here have become disillusioned with the BN government, angered by their “hollow promises” to resolve the decades-long land ownership issue.

“And their grouses worsened when they heard that new applicants had instead received the land titles when they were the earlier settlers,” he added.

Both Loh and Ong, who were present when Khalid spoke, told The Malaysian Insider that as far as the Chinese votes are concerned, PR does enjoy majority of their support.

This leaves the remaining battle for the hearts and minds of the Malay and Indian hearts in the run-up to the April 25 polling day. The Malays constitute 52.7 per cent of the electorate while the latter is 19.3 per cent.

All three state seats under the Hulu Selangor parliamentary constituency — Kuala Kubu Bharu, Batang Kali and Hulu Bernam — are BN-controlled.

BN’s Chinese component party MCA helms the Kuala Kubu Bharu seat but data from Election 2008 indicated that majority of the Chinese votes had gone to PR, while it was the Malay votes that helped secured an MCA victory.

More than 1,000 spoilt votes for the federal seat also indicate that the electorate was unhappy with Palanivel, who has pleaded for another chance to serve the constituents.

courtesy of Malaysian Insider

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