Polls fever rising in Teluk Intan


Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud

(NST) – The May 31 by-election in Teluk Intan, famed for a 129-year-old leaning tower, is set to overshadow a similar exercise in Bukit Gelugor, Penang. History, for one, points to an absorbing contest. This is the third by-election for the constituency, and the party that held the seat in the preceding general elections, lost in both the 1962 and May 1997 by-elections.

The 7,313-vote majority obtained by Seah Leong Peng from DAP in the May 5, 2013 general election was roughly half the winning margin of Barisan Nasional’s candidate in 1995. Nonetheless, in a by-election held two years later in May 1997, this majority was overturned by M. Kulasegaran from DAP.

Two years later in the November 1999 nationwide polls, the Teluk Intan pendulum returned to the BN, which fielded a certain Datuk Mah Siew Keong.

Mah, recently elected president of Gerakan, is set to take on DAP’s Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud, 27, and possibly a yet-to-be named representative of Barisan Jamaah Islamiyah SeMalaysia (Berjasa) along with former Kedah DAP interim committee vice-chairman Syed Araniri Syed Ahmad.

Syed Araniri announced recently that he would contest as an independent.

The Election Commission has given out seven nomination forms.

Mah, 52, had won in 1999 with a 2,783-vote majority. Five years later, Mah retained the seat with a majority of 9,836 votes.

Dyana Sofya is the political secretary of DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang.

In an interview yesterday, Dyana Sofya said she would not vote in support of Pas’ hudud initiative in Parliament if elected.

Campaigning, which officially starts today after the nomination process, is expected to revolve around national issues, such as the rising cost of living, independence of judiciary and eradicating corruption.

BN is expected to give extra attention to local issues, such as improving  amenities and bringing  in more development to Teluk Intan.

Locals, especially groups of senior citizens, could hardly keep off the topic as they gathered at their favourite stalls and coffee shops.

Most of the hotel rooms and homestays were quickly snapped up by groups such as EC personnel, BN and Pakatan  election workers and supporters, members of the media, as well as  observers.

There has also been a mushrooming of pondok panas (voter reference booths) adorned with the flags of political parties.

The war of flags was kicked off on Saturday by BN and DAP of Teluk Intan, where both parties chose to announce their candidates on the same day.

This by-election has also attracted a wide range of discussion  especially in social media, with some describing it as a fight between two generations.

Others poured scorn on Dyana Sofya’s candidacy, claiming that she was merely a stooge of DAP to project a less Chinese image of the party.

Her supporters, meanwhile, condemned Mah’s candidacy by pointing out that he had failed to wrest his Teluk Intan seat in the last two general elections.

Teluk Intan has 60,349 registered voters, with 410 early voters and 12 overseas voters. Chinese voters account for 41.94 per cent, followed by Malays (38.6 per cent) and Indians (19 per cent).

There are two state seats —  Changkat Jong and Pasir Bedemar — in the constituency.