With Malays split, the Chinese are key to victory in Permatang Pasir vote

One indicator of the changing confidence level in the Najib administration is the huge lines forming outside PNB offices to grab the various Amanah Saham share issues.

By Baradan Kuppusamy

Another by-election battle is taking shape between the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) and Umno/Barisan Nasional following the death of Permatang Pasir state assemblyman Mohd Hamdan Abdul Rahman, 60, of a heart attack on July 31.

But unfortunately for Umno the by-election is in the parliamentary constituency of Permatang Pauh, a seat held by the ruling party's nemesis and PR supremo Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Umno faces a tough battle in Anwar’s own backyard — a seat alternatively held by Anwar and his wife and PKR president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Ismail since 1982.

Umno’s headache is compounded by the fact that Mohd Hamdan won by a huge majority of 5,433 votes, quite a feat for a small state constituency.

The reason for the majority is the strong support he got from the Malays, who form 72 per cent of the electorate of about 20,000 and also the Chinese who make up about 25 per cent of the voters.

If as seen in the recently concluded Manek Urai by-election that Malay votes are almost evenly split between Umno and PAS, then the Chinese voters hold the balance and are the kingmakers.

Chinese voter mood is currently ugly towards Umno and this is not just over the death under interrogation of DAP political aide Teoh Beng Hock but also because of the loss of Perak and over all the nasty things that Umno-owned newspaper Utusan Malaysia has been writing about non-Malays, particularly the Chinese.

In elections, a lot has to do with perception and Chinese perception of the newly-installed Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak was changing for the positive before the Teoh affair broke into the public domain.

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