Pakatan will retain Penang but…

The DAP-helmed state government is expected to retain the state in the next general election but observers claim that their rivals will perform better.

Hawkeye, FMT

Pakatan Rakyat remains in pole position to regain Penang in the up-coming general election namely because Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng continues to be a popular figure here.

Political pundits and observers here reckoned that despite the controversies surrounding Lim’s administration since 2008, including his personal issues, the voters here are inclined to give Pakatan another term and a strong benefit of doubt to Lim.

When interviewed, the observers said this prediction was based on the latest assessment of voter sentiment, chats with the intelligence apparatuses and the media.

But, the observers also said that nowadays strategic assessments were fluid due to the excessive level of politicking in Penang.

So, the voting pattern might switch rapidly later this year, especially in Penang, which was traditionally a “swing” state since 1969.

To be fair, both Barisan Nasional and Pakatan remain mired in issues over candidates, strategies, funding and timing in winning over the hearts and minds of some one million registered voters here.

Lim, the Batu Pahat-born scion of the Lim political family since his father was none other than opposition stalwart Lim Kit Siang, had been portrayed as dictatorial and arrogant by his Penang deractors.

Their common assessment was that Pakatan would win Penang, but there was a possibility that BN would win more than the present 11 seats it had.

Pakatan had 29 seats while BN 11, of which the lion’s share of seats were held by DAP -19 and for BN, Umno- 11 respectively.

Unhealthy trend

It was an unhealthy trend as it showed that the Chinese votes were predominantly with DAP (Pakatan) while the Malays were with Umno (BN), said Penang Malay Congress president Rahmad Isahak.

Rahmad expected the trend to change in this upcoming election, but whatever BN threw at the voters, Pakatan could win here.

The weak link here continued to be PAS and PKR which were unable to match the political might and populist strength of DAP and Lim.

“Those two parties are seen as subservient to DAP and even worse, unable to speak up on issues related to the Malays and Indians,” said Rahmad.

He said if DAP was not careful, the Pakatan alliance might stand to lose its two-thirds majority in the state legislative assembly.

This was when Penang voters reverted to their traditional form of voting strategy where they would opt for check and balance.

“This means they will not give their entire vote to just one political bloc,” Rahmad said.

Right now, the sentiments were with DAP and Lim, former Penang MCA Youth head Eng Hiap Boon said.

However, he said, the “tide seemed to be shifting here,” as voters were starting to see that Lim was not perfect and neither was his government.

There was also a disconnect between the DAP grassroots and the party’s top leadership, Eng said, and he described this as a setback for any politician in today’s age of transparency.

“Those without any grassroots support are often asking for trouble.

“Nowadays in the coffeeshops, people are saying that Pakatan is the same like BN. People are now more discerning over who they support,” he added.

He said if Lim’s persisted in living out his “honeymoon” period of 2008, he would definitely be courting mounting problems and the DAP-led administration might only last two-terms in Penang.