Is Kajang a safe bet for PKR?


Nomination for the Kajang by-election has yet to open, but it has already brought out a whole lot of political feuds to warm up for the intensive election war to come.

Lim Sue Goan, Sin Chew Daily

Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad said Anwar Ibrahim should take responsibility for the 1987 Ops Lalang while MCA president Liow Tiong Lai accused Anwar of suppressing Chinese education during his tenure as the country’s education minister, citing the record of a RM10 symbolic allocation for a Chinese school.

The ill-feeling between Mahathir and Anwar lives on, and there is no way the former would want to see his ex-deputy win his way to the office of menteri besar. The election war will surely be an eye-catcher if Mahathir goes down to Kajang to campaign for BN’s candidate in a heads-on clash with the PKR advisor.

Former minister in the prime minister’s department Zaid Ibrahim has joined in the race, citing the need to keep Khalid in his MB’s office. But lying behind this outward excuse is his love-hate relationship with Anwar Ibrahim and PKR’s deputy president Azmin Ali.

When Zaid declared he was out of the PKR deputy presidency race in 2010, he made it clear that the party’s de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim and his election rival Azmin Ali were the “root of the problem,” and had urged both to step down so as to remove the last hindrance for Pakatan and PKR to keep growing.

Given his hard stance back then, it is no doubt Zaid is now back to stand in Anwar’s way. If Anwar were to become the Selangor MB, Azmin Ali would have a hand in the state’s political resources, and Zaid is determined to teach both a lesson by diluting the ballots.

Zaid was able to garner so many votes in Ulu Selangor by-election not because he had the guts to break ranks with Umno but because the voters were unhappy with BN and had responded to the calls of Pakatan Rakyat. If he were to plant his feet in Kajang this time, he will surrender whatever residual support he still has now.

BN goes specifically for Anwar because it knows Kajang is not a place it can capture easily. Moreover, the ruling coalition’s lackadaisical performance in running the country over the past one year is not going to be convincing to many a Kajang voter.

According to a recent survey by the UM Centre of Democracy and Elections (UMcedel), 59% of Kajang voters say the by-election should be held so that Anwar could become Selangor MB. The UM study comes close to that of PKR’s, which shows that 47% of voters are positive about the by-election. Majority of them believe the by-election has been created by PKR out of political and strategic needs.

69% of UM’s respondents say they will support Pakatan because of the rising prices while 65% will vote for Pakatan because of BN’s power abuse.

Meanwhile, PKR’s survey shows that 42% of Kajang voters feel that crime and safety are priority issues while 38% and 30% are more concerned about traffic jams and garbage disposal problems, respectively. Only 11% care about the municipality council’s services.

Inflation, corruption, public safety and traffic all fall within the jurisdiction of the federal administration. BN can turn the tide around if it is able to come up with solutions to address these issues.

But, these problems remain very much apparent during the past one year due to BN leader’s incompetency. They have nothing to show to the Kajang residents what they have done since the last general elections.

The Ops Cantas by the police on August 17 last year indeed produced some early results in battling serious crimes, especially shooting incidents, but it appears that such cases have made a comeback of late.

As for traffic congestion, the federal government has failed to put in an effective strategy to tackle the problem despite the fact several highways skirt the town. These additional highways will not solve the people’s problems, thanks to a poor public transportation system that makes driving.a necessity.

Even the Malay votes that Umno is quite comfortable with will not be a sure bet on the back of rising goods prices. According to UM’s study, 62% of Malay voters may lean towards Pakatan just because of this.

Another unfavorable factor for BN is the untimely resignation of Hindraf chairman P. Waythamoorthy from the post of deputy minister in the PM’s department citing the reason BN has failed to honor the promises it made to Hindraf.

Although Malays and Chinese make up the majority of the voters in Kajang, the 10.29% of Indian voters there do play a pivotal role. If Hindraf still has its influences in the Indian society, Waytha can always bank on the by-election to hammer Najib. Najib will have a hard time facing the conservatives in his party if Chinese votes do not go back to BN and more Indian votes are drained away.

While Chew Mei Fun can look to voters who give her the thumbs-up for fulfilling her electoral promises, that does not give her an upper hand in the race under the weight of a multitude of national issues and widespread frustration.

Unless BN can tip the balance over the next one month, Anwar is expected to sail past his first hurdle towards the MB’s office easily. As for how he is going to pick up the pieces for the state PKR, that is another question altogether.