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Wake-up call

  • Can Tanjung Piai reawaken a government in deep sleep and open the eyes of PPBM and DAP? Photo courtesy: Bernama

By TAY TIAN YAN
Sin Chew Daily

THE HUMILIATING DEFEAT of Pakatan Harapan in Tanjung Piai serves as a wake-up for a government in deep sleep from the infuriated rakyat, who want to use the ballots in their hands to open the eyes of the ruling party.

How could a ruling party be defeated with a wide margin of over 15,000 majority votes, bagging only under 30% of all votes?

PH lost in all 27 polling stations. It was not a close fight at all, but a landslide victory for the opposition. The voters, be they Malays or Chinese, have only one thing in common: the will to teach the government a lesson!

PH is in control of overwhelming resources and has made countless of promises in the form of development projects, construction, bonuses and cash giveaways, but none of these has managed to change the minds of Tanjung Piai voters.

The voters have made up their minds how they would evaluate the government's performance (or rather the lack of it) over the past one and a half years. Unfortunately, PH has opted to overlook or deny the reality.

Even during the election campaign, the government has indifferently ignored the plight of the people and has arrogantly suppressed the public's frustration over the issue of UTAR, arguing in an utterly naive way that they deserve more time from the people.

The rakyat have indeed given them the opportunity, but such opportunity has been scorned at.

IT WAS OBVIOUS even on the election eve that PH was going to be crushed.

The final hours of campaigning were the climax of this by-election. PH's event in Pontian saw the top guns of PPBM and DAP, including Muhyiddin Yassin, Lim, Kit Siang, Salahuddin Ayub, Syed Saddiq and Liew Chin Tong, among others.

But the atmosphere of the evening was weird, and somewhat sombre.

The ceramah scheduled at seven did not start until almost eight. Save for the campaign workers and reporters, there were just a handful of attendants.

The anxious DAP campaign workers were seen fumbling to get people to join the ceramah, and they only managed to pull in two to three hundred at around nine.

Finally the event got to start and the speakers began to deliver their speeches on the stage. Nevertheless, rapport from the unexcited audiences was sparse and scarce.

The whole thing lasted less than an hour before it was put to an abrupt end.

This could have been DAP's most unexciting pre-election event in the party's history. In the past, supporters flocked the party's ceramahs in thousands or even tens of thousands.

Perhaps the party should ask where the supporters and their applause have gone.

If DAP can keep mum over public frustration, so can the voters respond likewise!

DAP's almost divine stature in the Malaysian Chinese community is beginning to crumble following the defeat in Tanjung Piai. The Chinese community has suddenly come to the realisation that they too can say “no” to the Rocket.

DAP under Lim Kit Siang and son has now arrived at a crucial test. Is it yet to see whether the party will bow to the demands of the local Chinese community or will continue to act arrogantly through the next general elections.

HALF AN HOUR'S DRIVE away, on a vacant plot in front of the Pekan Nenas market, MCA was holding its last event before the election.

Some 2,000 people packed the venue, and the speeches by Umno's sec-gen Annuar Musa and former defence minster Hishammuddin Hussein were greeted with thunderous applause.

MCA president Wee Ka Siong's presence sent the evening's atmosphere to the boiling point. Such overwhelming response from the attendants has not been seen for a very, very long time.

Wee said MCA not only wanted to win this election, but also the support of Chinese Malaysians.

To the party, the by-election carries an unusual significance. MCA has won this election not because of Umno, nor Malay votes. It has won decisively in predominantly Chinese areas!

MCA can now tell Umno that it has the support of Chinese Malaysians, and this gives the party an edge in negotiating with its much bigger allies.

At the same time, it can also tell DAP now that it is no longer a Chinese party that thrives on Malay votes alone.

After all, MCA needs to thank Lim Guan Eng for all this.

The threat that UTAR's allocation will be boosted from RM1 million to RM30 million if MCA exits UTAR, has done nothing to batter MCA but has instead hurt the feelings of Chinese Malaysians.

MCA's events have each managed to get thousands of ringgit donated to the UTAR foundation. A charity sale alone has brought in more than RM50,000 while a young entrepreneur has donated RM20,000 anonymously.

Perhaps this will instantly reawaken DAP's more glorious “milo tin” days. Indeed, to win the votes of Chinese, one will have to first win their hearts.

Their passion for education far exceeds their reliance on any particular party. Things like Jawi calligraphy and UTAR have hurt the community so badly, and this by-election provides a perfect outlet for them to vent their anger.

In predominantly Malay Kampung Sawah, organisers of the Muafakat Nasional rally did not prepare any chairs nor food for the participants, but over 10,000 turned up, sitting tightly on the floor from one end to another.

Despite the size, the crowd was surprisingly orderly. The speakers talked about politics and election with a humorous satire unique to the Malay society which at some points triggered joyful laughters from the listeners.

There was no repulsion against Wong Jeck Seng, the ethnic Chinese candidate. The people's dissatisfaction with the government has transcended ethnic or religious differences.

By comparison, the ceramah graced by Tun Mahathir in Kukup barely a couple of days earlier, also targeting Malay-Muslim audiences, saw only a tenth of the crowd. The “buy Muslim, vote Muslim” leaflets placed on the chairs did not seem to work.

What the Malay folks need most is improved economy. Nevertheless, the PM kept scolding them of being lazy. PPBM's candidate Karmaine Sardini argued that people could live on RM1,000 a month while Teresa Kok told them palm oil prices had surged to RM435 per tonne.

And those election promises... don't ever think that they are the forgetful lot. When it comes to promises, these people have real sharp memory.

ONE OF THE TWO ELEPHANTS will have to fall after Tanjung Piai.

PPBM's resource-laden election war has succumbed to Umno's guerrilla warfare. A clear signal has been sent out for all future election wars.

PPBM's warning bell has been sounded, but the party still has more than three years to make amends, or to mess things up further.

Mahathir's position and reputation will invariably suffer a setback. Umno opportunists who have intended to jump ship will have to hold back their decisions. Mahathir's plan to serve a full term will meet with powerful resistance henceforth.

After this election setback, calls from within PH for Mahathir to step down will pick up in momentum. But given the PM's headstrong character, will he pass the baton on time? Can PPBM go without Mahathir in the first place?

Tanjung Piai by-election has opened up a new chapter in Malaysian politics, but can it reawaken a government in deep sleep and open the eyes of PPBM and DAP?

Only they themselves have the answer!

 

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