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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Weather dampens Pakatan's push for Chinese votes



Pakatan Rakyat's final push for the Tenang Chinese votes has been dampened by bad weather, if dwindling ceramah crowd numbers are used as a barometer.

For the past two nights, Pakatan, particularly its component party DAP, have been unable to secure the numbers at their ceramah despite the 'star-studded' lineup of opposition speakers.

The rain, which can last throughout the day, has also forced Pakatan to cancel some of their campaign activities.

Unofficially, PAS and Pakatan have conceded the Tenang race, but believe that they must slog on to reduce BN's majority. The key to this, they believe, is by increasing the number of Chinese votes for PAS.

DAP is capping off their campaign tonight with a 100-table dinner tonight dinner. The dinner cost RM20 per head but only their most fervent of supporters are expected to attend.

The rest, including the crucial fence-sitters, are expected to join the 500-table dinner-cum-concert hosted by the so-called 1Malaysia NGO, which claims to be non-partisan.

Coupled with plenty of free gifts and attractive luck draw prizes, this event is expected to overshadow the DAP dinner function.

Fence sitters being targetted

It is estimated that up to 10 percent of the 5,766 Chinese voters have yet to make up their mind and it is now the final dash to persuade them.

They are believed to be the target of MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek's (right) meticulous anti-Islamic state campaign.

“He is only targeting the fence-sitters, not those Pakatan supporters who view the Islamic state as a non-issue. He is a very smart politician and has vast experience in handling election.

“MCA also has strong campaign machinery on the ground, and the government intelligence is providing him feedback from the ground. There is no reason he would pick the wrong issue.

“He could call it a victory as long as five percent of the fence-sitters swing back to BN. The Islamic state issue may disturb these fence-sitters,” said one political observer who is tracking the by-election campaign keenly.

Newly established think-tank Centre for Strategic Engagement (Cense), in its report on the Tenang campaign, estimates that between 48 to 51 percent of Chinese voters would support BN.

If this proves true, it will spell disaster for Pakatan's campaign.

“The angry sentiment in 2008 has subsided due to better economy and the Chinese voters benefit soaring commodity price and value appreciation of their asset as a result of inflation,” read Cense's report.

No grouses among Chinese

The report pointed out that Johor state government has invested significantly to meet the Chinese voters' demands, especially in the area of Chinese education.

“For the first time in a by-election, there hasn't been a local Chinese school issue,” the report noted.

Cense predicts that BN has secured 80 percent of the Malay vote and it is highly unlikely that this number can go any higher.

“A three percent swing towards BN would be possible at voter turnout rate of 70 percent allowing BN to enjoy a majority of 2,969. If the turnout rate hit 75 percent, then BN's majority can go up to about 3,200,” read the report.

A 3,000 majority would not look good for BN which has set a target of 5,000, but it will deal a major blow for Pakatan's morale. BN secured a 2,492 majority in 2008 and 5,517 for 2004.

DAP has set the goal of securing 55 percent of the Chinese vote and it is believed that this is a hard act to pull through. - Malaysiakini

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