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UMNO at severe disadvantage in KT - malaysiakini

Malaysiakini's report :

It is a known fact that Barisan Nasional is facing an uphill task in retaining the 60 percent of Chinese support it had enjoyed during the last general election, in the upcoming Kuala Terengganu by-election.


This is because the coalition has suffered tremendous setbacks - the death of the popular Razali Ismail and a reduced majority for its sole Chinese representative in the state.

china town in kuala terengganuChinese voters make up almost 11.4 percent of the electorate and are mostly based in urban areas around Kuala Terengganu. They comprise almost 40 percent of the voters in the state seat of Bandar, currently held by the MCA’s Toh Chin Yaw. It is the only Terengganu state seat that Umno did not contest in the 2008 general election.

Former education deputy minister Razali won the Kuala Terengganu parliamentary seat by a razor-thin majority of 628. His sudden death last month led to the heated by-election.

Analysts from both BN and Pakatan Rakyat have confirmed that Kuala Terengganu was not spared when a political tsunami swept across the nation on March 8. Although BN managed to retain both the parliamentary and Bandar state seats, its majority suffered.

Razali’s majority was slashed from 1933 votes in 2004 to 628 votes, while Toh’s majority was reduced from 1612 votes in 2004 to 1142 votes.

The "sole Chinese representative" factor point to the advantage enjoyed by Toh who is the sole Chinese assemblyperson in Terengganu. Much like the"sole Chinese chief minister" sentiment in Penang, the Chinese community in the country are believed to be fiercely loyal to their sole representatives, be it in Parliament or the state assembly.

razali ismailRazali’s popularity among the Chinese stemmed from his work in setting up the National Higher Education Fund. Sources from Gerakan said many Chinese parents who benefitted from the funds voted for Razali to repay his good work.

However, its not all smooth sailing for BN. The government coalition is likely to suffer from the trend of Chinese voters favouring the opposition in Parliament while supporting BN at the state level.

Out of the 8,787 Chinese voters in Kuala Terengganu, 7207 voters belong to the Bandar state seat, concentrated in four polling stations: Kampung Cina (2191), Pejabat Bandaran (1634), Paya Bunga (1300 ) and Pulau Kambing (1232).

During the previous general election, Razali won a total of 4370 votes while his opponent from PAS Mohamad Sabu won 3173 votes, giving the former a 1197 majority. In comparison, Toh won a higher majority of 2958 in these polling stations at the state level.

Age-old tactics

Local Pakatan Rakyat leaders have also been encourage by the bigger turnout at talks by the Chinese. During the previous general election, only a handful of people used to turn up for opposition ceramahs.

In comparison, the latest Pakatan talk attracted around 300 people, leading opposition leaders to the conclusion that there has been a change of heart in local voters.

kt by election 060109 mca flyersIn a step to counter this, MCA is reminding the Chinese in Kuala Terennganu of the explosive issue of hudud law, which became a contentious matter for the opposition when PAS vice-president Husam Musa announced that the Islamic party would implement the law if it takes over central government.

MCA has even started to distribute Chinese leaflets entitled "Welcome to the PAS extremist theocratic state" and its president Ong Tee Keat has openly challenged DAP, who disagrees with PAS over the implementation of hudud law, to boycott the by-election.

However, certain quarters in Kuala Terengganu are of the opinion that MCA’s age-old tactic of playing up religious sentiments will not have much effect on voters in this by-election as no matter the outcome, BN will still rule Terengganu.

kt by election 070109 pkr chinese bannerWith this in mind, Pakatan is focusing on attacking Umno’s hegemony and its bullying of the other parties in BN by reminding voters that "one less Umno representative means one more voice for justice" and that they should "vote for change in KT, vote for Pakatan" -