Malay vote a stumbling block for Pakatan’s Perak quest

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, several PR leaders admitted that Election 2013 would still be a toss-up between the opposition pact and BN, largely due to lukewarm support from the state’s Malay voters.

Clara Chooi, TMI

Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim moved in on the Perak Malay vote last night by dangling his possible candidacy in the silver state for Election 2013 but earned mixed reactions in response — a telltale sign of trouble for Pakatan Rakyat (PR) here ahead of national polls.

The prime minister-hopeful belted out a song, told amusing anecdotes and launched his signature charm offensive at two separate locations in Perak’s quiet northeast — Lenggong and Gerik, both Malay-majority parliamentary seats and both popularly known as Umno fortresses.

The two events drew sizeable mostly Malay-centric crowds, particularly in Gerik, and there was boisterous applause when Anwar was ushered onto the ceramah stage to speak but many in the audience appeared more curious than supportive of the leader’s polls pitch.

Large numbers of people seemed more interested in the items sold under makeshift tents set up at the fringes of the ceramah venue by traders hailing from as far as Baling and Sungai Petani in Kedah, and Ipoh, which is some 130km south of here.

They scurried away when asked to be interviewed, some admitting they were not there for the event.

Many hung around to listen to Anwar but kept their distance from the group of a few hundred who crowded near the ceramah stage to cheer and clap at the opposition leader’s words. 

“I appeal for your co-operation,” said the bespectacled Anwar at midnight in Taman Semarak, Batu 2, Gerik. “Support our candidates… PKR, PAS, DAP… because we need you to win Perak, to win Putrajaya.”

In his element as usual, the 64-year-old former deputy prime minister reminded voters of his years in prison and how he had been beaten, stripped bare and even had his privates “measured”.

He told of campaigns to attack him and his family — his wife, PKR president Datin Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, and daughter, Lembah Pantai MP Nurul Izzah Anwar — and the numerous allegations of his alleged affiliations with the Jews of Israel, the Americans, with the Chinese, the Indians and even the Sulu terrorists in Sabah.

“How many more groups am I an agent of? It is enough,” Anwar (picture) said. “You want to insult me? Go ahead. Call me a sodomiser… a dog.”

“But the more you threaten me, the greater my support grows. Look at this,” he said, gesturing to the crowd.

He also told the predominantly Malay crowd that it was only the higher-ups in Umno and their cronies who have been reaping the country’s riches, claiming that the Barisan Nasional (BN) government has only been feeding scraps to the poorer masses through programmes like Bantuan Rakyat 1 Malaysia (BR1M).

“And then recipients thank them, kiss their hands, saying oh thank you, thank you,” he said.

“But I want to tell you, the people of Gerik, I want to tell you that if the rich supports them (BN), it does not surprise me. Because timber they get, shares they get, taxi permits they get.

“But the Malays from the villages,” he continued, gesturing again to the crowd, “… why do you support them?”

Anwar later appealed to the crowd to give him 24 hours to decide on his candidacy for Election 2013, but stressed that it was his intention to contest a seat in Perak.

“I’ve been here for nine years. Seven years in Kuala Kangsar…. and two years where? In Kamunting,” he laughingly said, referring to his two-year jail term under the Internal Security Act (ISA) at the Kamunting detention camp near here.

Speaking on the sidelines of the event, several PR leaders admitted that Election 2013 would still be a toss-up between the opposition pact and BN, largely due to lukewarm support from the state’s Malay voters.

PKR’s Simpang Pulai assemblyman Chan Ming Kai told The Malaysian Insider that PR was banking largely on the state’s newly-registered voters and hopes to win at least 40 per cent from this group.

He noted that Chinese support for PR has remained strong, while many among the Indian community may have fallen back to BN’s fold.

“So we can only survive with a simple majority government if we can win at least 30 to 40 per cent of the new Malay votes,” he said.

One PR leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, said any talk that PR was a shoo-in to capture Perak in Election 2013 was an overly generous prediction.

“If you ask me, it is too close to call. We lose some votes from one group, gain from another. We cannot say for certain what will happen during the polls,” the leader said.