PAS seeks more Chinese support in Tenang

By Adib Zalkapli, The Malaysian Insider

LABIS, Jan 29 — PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang made a personal plea for the Chinese vote for tomorrow’s by-election as Malays continue to shun the party’s candidate, Normala Shamsuddin.

Speaking at a 100 table dinner organised by DAP here Hadi was hopeful that the Chinese votes, which form 39 per cent of the 14,753 voters would lead to an electoral upset in the staunchly Barisan Nasional (BN) state seat.

“In 2008, the Chinese had supported Pakatan Rakyat. PAS and DAP won in Chinese areas. Hopefully we will see a bigger win this time,” said Hadi to about 1,000 people who attended the dinner at a Labis restaurant.

Also present were top Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders PKR de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng, on his second visit drumming up support for Normala.

In 2004 BN won the seat with a majority of more than 5,517 votes but it was reduced to 2,492 votes in Election 2008, which was largely attributed to the shift of Chinese support to the opposition.

There are three Chinese majority polling districts in the Tenang constituency; Labis Tengah, Labis Timur and Labis where in 2008 PAS secured 50 to 67 per cent of the votes.

Hadi’s remarks came as the PR campaign has been unable to make any inroads among the Malay voters who make up 49 per cent of the electorate. Members of the community reside largely in the Felda settlements and traditional villages known to be Umno fortresses.

Normala’s colleagues from the Pas Muslimat have resorted to wearing red headscarves or tudungs, similar to the Umno colours, in a bid to enter and campaign in the Felda schemes.

“I am confident all of you will work hard in defeating BN in Tenang for us to make another step to Putrajaya,” said Hadi.

In his 20-minute speech, the former Terengganu mentri besar also sought to convince the Chinese community that PAS’s victory would not lead to marginalisation of the minority.