Saturday, April 10, 2010

No clear advantage for either side

Both the Barisan Nasional and Pakatan Rakyat are entering the Hulu Selangor electoral fray with a fair share of trouble between them.

For the BN, it will be an uphill battle to wrest back the seat it lost in 2008, given the simmering discontent over the choice of candidate.

Things are also not looking too good for Pakatan in its bid to retain its prize, especially since all the three state seats in the constituency are held by BN – Kalumpang and Ulu Bernam (Umno) and Kuala Kubu Baru (MCA).

This time around, Pakatan cannot expect another “political tsunami”. It has ruled Selangor for two years and its performance so far has not been impressive. It has yet to get down to the real business of governing the state.

Many of its promises and pledges made during the March 2008 general election have yet to be fulfilled. Then there were other troubles: the “sex scandal” involving its Bukit Lancang representative Elizabeth Wong, the temple problem in Shah Alam, and the PAS-DAP quarrel over the sale of alcoholic drinks in 24-hour outlets in Malay-majority areas.

BN's position is not healthy either. The coalition is wobbling with internal squabbles, with Umno members sulking because the seat is going to the MIC. The Hulu Selangor Umno division wants the seat to be contested by an Umno candidate, given that Malays are in the majority (52.7 percent of the 64,500 voters) in the constituency. The Chinese constitute 26.3 percent, Indians 19 percent and others 1.7 percent.

Internal conflicts

To show their displeasure, Umno division members had even put up banners for their candidate, former Menteri Besar Muhammad Muhammad Taib.

However, Prime Minister and BN chairman Najib Tun Razak did not budge from his stand that the ticket should go to MIC in the spirit of BN.

Over at the MCA, the situation is not encouraging either. Although the party has a new leader in Dr Chua Soi Lek after a bruising party election, it is still struggling to regain the confidence of the Chinese community. Thus, it may not be strong enough to make an impact on the Hulu Selangor battleground.

The MIC may be carrying the BN flag but it too is ridden with internal conflicts, which may jeopardise its chances of bringing back the lost trophy.

Party president S Samy Vellu is still at loggerheads with his former deputy S Subramaniam and this old rivalry may spill over into Hulu Selangor and douse the flame of optimism in the MIC camp.

With the emergence of Hindraf, an aggressive non-governmental organisation dedicated to defending the rights of the Indian community, the MIC may well see its influence further corroded among the Indian voters.

To win, the MIC needs the solid backing of Umno and MCA and for that to happen, it must choose a candidate acceptable to its partners. For now, the favourite war horse appears to be G Palanivel but he does not seem to enjoy the trust of the BN team and the voters.

Nomination is around the corner but both warring parties – BN and Pakatan – will be entering the arena with neither one able to boast it has a distinct advantage over the other.

by FMT

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