Ibrahim Ali: Tenang vote true measure of BN’s support

By The Malaysian Insider

The Tenang by-election in the Umno bastion of Johor will be the ultimate test of Barisan Nasional’s (BN) popularity ahead of possible snap polls, Datuk Ibrahim Ali said today.

The Perkasa chief pointed out the vote will also see if most of the 38 per cent in Chinese voters support MCA and whether the Indian community will back the MIC following the departure of its long-serving president, Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu. Both BN parties suffered setbacks in Election 2008.

“The by-election for the Tenang state seat will truly be a test for BN,” Ibrahim said in a text message to The Malaysian Insider today.

“It is in Johor, which is an Umno stronghold. It is also (Datuk Seri Dr) Chua Soi Lek’s stronghold where the Chinese make up 38 per cent of the electorate,” he said, referring to the MCA president who held the Labis parliamentary seat until Election 2008 when he was replaced by his son, Tee Yong.

The Tenang constituency, located within the Labis federal seat, is home to 14,511 voters. Of this, 49 per cent are Malay, 38 per cent are Chinese and Indians, 12 per cent.

Tee Yong became Labis MP after Dr Chua was forced to quit all political posts after a sex scandal. He later won the MCA deputy presidency before claiming the presidency despite the scandal.

Yesterday, Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin called on the BN and Umno machinery to not only defend the Tenang seat but gain more support from voters in the constituency.

Today, Ibrahim said BN had won the Tenang state seat with a majority of more than 5,000 votes in Election 2004, but noted that their majority had dwindled to just over 2,000 votes in Election 2008.

In the last general election, the late Datuk Sulaiman Taha defended the state seat from PAS contender, Mohd Saim Siran, with a 2,492-vote majority.

Previously, BN had defeated the Islamist party with a majority of 5,517 votes in the 2004 general election and 8,649 votes in 1999.

“Hence, we can see in this by-election if BN’s majority will increase or not, whether their Malay votes will increase or decrease, and whether their Chinese votes will increase or decrease,” said the Pasir Mas MP.

“In regards to the Chinese vote, we will see if the influence of Chua (Soi Lek) or the influence of Chua Jui Meng is stronger,” he added.

Former MCA vice-president Datuk Chua Jui Meng was appointed as the PKR Johor chief in July this year.

The newly-appointed PKR vice-president reportedly enjoys widespread influence in the southern state where he was born.

Ibrahim also called the Tenang polls a test of newly-crowned MIC president Senator Datuk Seri G. Palanivel’s ability to woo Indian voters back into the ruling coalition.