Day of reckoning for Kajang folk


The political drama over this Sunday’s by-election is about to come to the moment of truth as Kajang voters prepare to elect their new wakil rakyat.

Joceline Tan, The Star

DATUK Seri Dr Wan Azizah may be be seen as leading the race, but her Barisan Nasional opponent Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun is also fast gaining momentum.

While survey findings may be in favour of Dr Wan Azizah, many will not deny the fact that Kajang folk are gravitating towards Chew because of her down to earth approach.

It is obvious by now that Dr Wan Azizah knows she is going to be the winner in Kajang.

Her body language says as much as she works the crowd, looking immaculately groomed and always in her favourite pastel shades. The PKR president has come a long way since she first stood as a replacement candidate for her husband in Permatang Pauh, Penang.

Her rival is younger and more energetic.

Both candidates have done their utmost to explain why they deserve the Kajang vote but journalists covering the by-election wonder whether anyone is listening anymore.

Like Malaysians elsewhere, Kajang folk are obsessed with the vanished MH370 which has been described as this century’s biggest aviation mystery. Every conversation somehow comes around to the missing jetliner.

The timing of the aviation crisis has been quite disastrous for Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s cause. The plane disappeared hours after the court found Anwar guilty of sodomy, and from then on the search for the missing jet overshadowed every other event including Anwar’s attempt to ignite sympathy and support over his court dilemma.

There were even attempts to link the chief pilot to Anwar, and the Opposition leader has appeared on CNN to give his side of the story.

Technically speaking, Chew is the more suitable woman for the job. Her experience makes her the sort of hands-on wakil rakyat that a complex town like Kajang needs.

Chew has probably covered more walkabouts than her opponent but it is evident that she is struggling against a national sentiment that is beyond her control or that of the MCA.

The PKR team can feel it and they have stopped pretending that Dr Wan Azizah plans to do this or that for Kajang. Instead, they are asking voters to make the Sunday vote a referendum on their de facto leader Anwar.

Kajang has been about the political survival of Anwar from the start. It began with the aim of positioning Anwar centrestage in Selangor politics, namely as the next Mentri Besar of Selangor. But the stage collapsed before he could get on it.

Despite the foregone conclusion on who will win, Kajang seems to have attracted more than its share of surveys gauging public opinion and sentiments. One survey after another has predicted Dr Wan Azizah to be the winner.

According to a survey by Unisel or Universiti Selangor, 76% of voters said Dr Wan Azizah will win as opposed to 24% who believe that Chew will be the winner.

The latest survey by the CENSE think-tank showed that the PKR leader enjoys good support from the Chinese, 82% of whom wished that she would win while her support among the Indians was 67%.

The irony is that she is struggling somewhat with the Malay vote because only 52% of Malays wished for PKR to win. For instance, PKR ceramah in Malay areas have drawn lukewarm audiences but those held in the Chinese and Indian areas have been well-received.

Dr Wan Azizah has been unable to master the art of oratory but she has learnt to do her share of singing and dancing. At one Indian function, when the emcee announced that PKR would be unable to win unless a popular Tamil song was played, she sportingly sang and danced along as the song was blasted through the loudspeakers.

The Kajang voters, said CEO of CENSE Fui K. Soong, are quite an informed populace.

A great deal of the PKR campaign has been waged on the theme of “Justice for Anwar Ibrahim”, in reference to the court decision against him. But the CENSE survey, said Soong, showed that the court decision has limited impact on the Kajang vote.

For instance, 64% of those polled said the court decision would not influence them to support PKR while 57% said it would not influence them to vote for Barisan.

And despite Dr Wan Azizah’s standing among the Chinese, only 15% of them liked the idea of her becoming Mentri Besar of Selangor compared to 31% Malays and 57% Indians.

The Unisel survey predicted that she would win with a 7,000-vote majority, which is more or less what the former PKR man secured.

The CENSE survey suggested that she could secure a majority of more than 10,000 votes if the voter turnout was about 80%.

However, a Universiti Malaya study indicated that her majority of win could be as high as 12,000 votes.

MH370 may not be the chief reason why people have lost interest in what is happening in Kajang. The Kajang storyline has changed so many times that some are no longer sure what it is all about. Kajang began with Anwar trying to solve the internal power struggle between deputy president Azmin Ali and Mentri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim.

Then it was upgraded into the Kajang Move and the road to Putrajaya plus the bid to make Anwar the Mentri Besar. When the court decision came along, Kajang became the quest to seek justice for Anwar and the launch pad for Reformasi 2.0.

The twists and turns will not end after tomorrow’s by-election but are likely to continue into the PKR election which will take place in May.