PAS members can’t decide whether to vote MCA in Balakong

Gan Pei Ling

MCA candidate Tan Chee Teong campaigning in Balakong last week. The by-election is on Saturday and the Chinese-based party is banking on Malay support to wrest the seat from Pakatan Harapan. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Kamal Ariffin, September 3, 2018.

PAS supporters in Balakong are still undecided whether to give their votes to MCA at this Saturday’s by-election.

Abd Hadi Shafie, a founder of the Balakong PAS branch, said loyal members will follow the party leadership’s instruction to vote MCA but the silent supporters might stay out of the by-election.

“Many of them are still undecided, in a dilemma. They might stay home and not vote,” he told The Malaysian Insight.

He estimated that there were about 2,000 to 3,000 PAS members in Balakong, mostly in Bandar Tun Hussein Onn. Malay voters make up 30% of the 62,219 voters in Balakong.

MCA candidate Tan Chee Teong, the underdog in this by-election, is standing against Pakatan Harapan candidate Wong Siew Ki in the by-election which has been called following the death of assemblyman Eddie Ng Tien Chee in a road accident on July 20.

In the 14th general election, Ng defeated Barisan Nasional candidate Lim Chin Wah and Mohamad Ibrahim Ghazali of PAS by 35,538 votes.

Then, PAS received slightly more votes – 6,230 – than MCA (5,874 ) with DAP polling 41,768 votes.

This is the first time MCA will be using its own logo, departing from the previous practice of using the BN scales.

The PAS leadership has said it would support BN candidate in the spirit of opposition. However, apart from instructing its members to vote for MCA, the Islamist party has not gone to the ground to campaign for MCA in Balakong.

Hadi said the party machinery in Selangor was focused on campaigning in Seri Setia, where it is facing PKR in a straight fight. The Seri Setia and Balakong by-elections are being held on the same day.

Some Balakong voters complain that they have yet to see Pakatan Harapan candidate Wong Siew Ki on the ground. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Kamal Ariffin, September 3, 2018.

Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi from Universiti Malaya’s Academy of Malay Studies said the 6,000-plus votes from PAS are unlikely to go to MCA.

“MCA has been the most vocal in opposing hudud that PAS advocates. So, PAS voters are caught in a dilemma between obeying their top leadership’s instruction and MCA’s policy that is unfriendly to PAS,” he said.

For political scientist Dr Wong Chin Huat from the Penang Institute, it would take a great hypocrisy for PAS supporters to vote for MCA.

“PAS’ guiding principle is that the enemy of an enemy (PH) is a friend, but MCA has opposed hudud no less than DAP. Recently, an MCA leader even slammed Penang for helping Malay Muslims too much,” said Wong.

PAS’ support for MCA may even backfire on the ethnic Chinese party, driving away MCA’s own supporters, he said.

“PAS’ support creates a perception that MCA is a proxy of not only Umno, but also PAS,” said Wong, predicting that MCA may lose its deposit again.

Random Malay voters The Malaysian Insight met at the state constituency said they would likely give their votes to PH again.

Sobri, a coconut drink seller from Bandar Tun Hussein Onn, said he would definitely vote for PH again.

“Not MCA. This country needs new leaders,” said the hawker.

Ahmad Fauzi, a 40-year-old street trader, said he was impressed with the late DAP assemblyman, Ng Tien Chee, who would always drop by to meet locals.

“He would sit here and talk to us. I haven’t seen the candidates from DAP or MCA this time. They should come and meet us,” said the former real estate agent.

Apart from traffic congestion, he said, he has nothing much to complain as Bandar Tun Hussein Onn has seen rapid development over the past two decades he has lived there.

“We have seen improvements from time to time. We have the Selangor free bus service and an MRT station here. Now there is a free clinic, too. If they can reduce the traffic congestion, there are too many traffic lights, it would be good,” said Ahmad. – September 3, 2018.  

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