Chinese voters could cut BN’s big win

By Adib Zalkapli, The Malaysian Insider

LABIS, Jan 27 — Barisan Nasional’s (BN) hope of retaining Tenang by a majority of at least 5,000 votes has been made difficult as the DAP’s campaign for the January 30 by-election has begun to gain momentum, particularly among the Chinese.

The Malaysian Insider understands that Umno campaigners, who are confident of winning the majority of the Malay votes, have started blaming MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek for his alleged failure to curb the DAP’s rising influence since nomination day.

“I think they have underestimated the influence Lim Kit Siang and Lim Guan Eng have over the Chinese community. They are the crowd pullers here and unlike PAS, DAP ceramahs are only attended by locals,” said an Umno official who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Kit Siang and his son, Penang Chief Minister Guan Eng, spent one day each in the constituency, addressing two well-attended rallies in the Labis Tengah polling district.

Both rallies, held on Monday and Tuesday night respectively, attracted at least 300 local residents, a huge number by Tenang campaign standard.

The DAP is now confident that PAS candidate Normala Sudirman would win at least 60 per cent of the Tenang Chinese votes especially as most of them will return for next week’s Chinese New Year holidays. In Election 2008, PAS obtained 58 per cent of the Chinese votes.

“Currently, we have about 60 to 65 per cent, we are targeting to increase by over 70 per cent, it is still very difficult because in some areas we are not very strong yet,” said Johor DAP chairman Dr Boo Cheng Hau.

The DAP’s estimation is almost similar to projections by Umno campaigners who estimated that the Chinese support level has not gone beyond 30 per cent since the start of the campaign period last Saturday, leading to some in Umno demanding to have more say on how the campaign should be run in Chinese areas.