Sunday, 11 May 2014

Teluk Intan by-election: Dato' Mah Siew Keong will win if….

Teluk Intan's iconic landmark.
17 years ago, Teluk Intan had a by-election when the then Member of Parliament for Teluk Intan from Gerakan, Ong Tin Kim died of cancer. Ong, who was also a Chinese educationist that joined Gerakan with other educationists like Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon, Datuk Seri Kerk Choo Ting, Dr Goh Cheng Teik and Datuk Dr. Kang Chin Seng in 1982 with the aim of  working from within the framework of Barisan Nasional towards nation building rather than making statements from the outside. Looking back, today, all these leaders are no longer active in politics.

The 1997 Teluk Intan by-election was still very clear in my memory. I was coming of age, with my interests in politics gaining momentum after the 1990 and 1995 general elections. Instead of being at home to immerse myself with books as SPM was just round the corner, almost every night, I was allowed to follow my father to the ceramah circuits in town.
Aside from that, I was also allowed to follow my grandfather to dinners organized by the Chinese associations and temple committees in town where only the BN leaders and the candidate Chee See Chok will be invited. Therefore I had a good opportunity to listen to both side.  It was also during this by-election that the then Gerakan president Dr. Lim Keng Yaik said that BN do not need Chinese votes to win Teluk Intan. That statement helped to make YB Kulasegaran the MP for Teluk Intan from 1997 to 1999.
At that time Mah Siew Keong was then the rookie state assemblyman for Pasir Bedamar, having won the seat in 1995, which he held till 1999. Mah contested in the election under the banner that he is the grandson of Dato’ Mah Pooi Soo, the richest man in town, giving up his comfort to serve the people, therefore the people, with due respect for his grandfather, for the first time since 1969, dislodge a DAP candidate. DAP never lose the Pasir Bedamar state seat prior to that. How well this rich man's grandson and son serve the people were evident in the results of the 2008 and 2013 elections where Mah lost. 
17 years later now, the Election Commissions has decided that the Teluk Intan by-election will be held on 31st May. In a few days’ time till 31st May, Teluk Intan will see carnival like atmosphere again.  PG 1, the official car of the Chief Minister of Penang will be often seen in town again except that this time, those sitting in the car are from the DAP. In 1997, I shook hand with Koh Tsu Koon when PG 1 pumps petrol at dad’s petrol station.  
The nomination day will be on 19th May but the speculation on who will be the candidates from both sides is the most talk about thing in town with the mass media joining the fray. Who will replace Seah Leong Peng as the next MP for Teluk Intan ? It is reported that Mah Siew Keong is quite certain to stand again while from the DAP, the frontline contender is Hew Kuan Yew, the fiery orator from DAP who is famous for four letter words, cursing BN leaders with “pok kai ham ka chan” (damn your whole family in Cantonese) and also known as the Superman.  
The people of Teluk Intan are divided about Hew Kuan Yew as the candidate. It is also reported by Malaysiakini that the Perak DAP leadership is not is his favor but the central leaders think otherwise. Many voters, especially the female and younger ones are put off by Hew’s vulgar character. Many have said that they’ll rather vote for Mah Siew Keong, despite their dislike for BN and despite Mah’s disappointing track record rather than one that swear and curse at every opportune.  And among some of my friends and their family, who are traditional DAP supporter, confided that they will stay away from the vote if the candidate is Hew.
My Malay friends felt that Hew Kuan Yew belongs to the ultra-right Chinese group ( which I don't think it is fair to Hew) therefore they find it hard to support him. My Indian friends are as divided as the Chinese although their issue are different. Some claimed that Mah Siew Keong's contribution to them are a lot while the younger ones and those living in Teluk Intan town will vote for DAP but not Hew Kuan Yew. However, Hew can find tremendous support from the male voters.
Candidates play a major role in winning an election. More than often, issues regarding the candidate will take the front seat rather than national and local issues. It was wise for DAP to remove the former Teluk Intan MP to contest in Cameron Highlands because of his not so good track record when elected in 2008. It is not about the reverse support of the Chinese back to BN or about GST, Hudud, Bible, ISMA , inflation and etc but it is the candidate. Therefore, Dato’ Mah Siew Keong can be quite assured of winning back Teluk Intan if the candidate from DAP is Hew Kuan Yew.
P/s: I’m writing this article on my personal capacity and not as MCA member. I am merely expressing the voices of the people of Teluk Intan, those eligible voters that will vote on 31st May as from what I heard. At the end of the day, it is still up to the leadership of BN and DAP to decide their candidates.

Related link: 

Will Dyana Sofya make Teluk Intan Dato' Mah Siew Keong's Waterloo?

17th May 2014, it is now official that Dyana Sofya is the candidate from DAP for Teluk Intan.

Dyana Sofya vs Mah Siew Keong in Teluk Intan

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