FRANCIS PAUL SIAH
COMMENT | As expected, the Tanjung Piai by-election has attracted a crowded field. Six candidates have entered the fray.
Come Nov 16, the 53,528 registered voters in the constituency will have to decide among the contenders – Bersatu’s Karmaine Sardini (Pakatan Harapan), MCA’s Wee Jeck Seng (BN), Gerakan’s Wendy Subramaniam, Berjasa president Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz and independents Ang Chuan Lock and Faridah Aryani Abd Ghaffar.
This is one such time when voters must be reminded again that they play a crucial role in making sure the right candidate is chosen to represent them in Parliament. So vote they must.Advertisement
Many dismiss the responsibility to vote, either because they do not care about the issues at hand or that they are unfamiliar with the candidates.
Reports on the ground in Tanjung Piai have already indicated that many voters have decided not to turn up to vote as a sign of protest against the Harapan government for their many failures and U-turns.
Many feel that voting for BN is not an option either as they had just discarded the coalition in the 14th general election (GE14).
However, if we fail to use our privilege to vote, we essentially allow other voters to make decisions for us. Surely, this is not the intention of those who wish to showcase their disillusionment with the government.
I would protest in this manner, by voting MCA or Gerakan.
Not only will my vote be a sign of protest; my rooting for the underdog, as has always been the case, remains the more important reason.
Harapan is strong enough in Parliament. Losing one seat in Tanjung Piai will make no difference to the ruling coalition. Why give Harapan more reasons to further inflate its huge ego? Nursing a bruised one could perhaps wake the coalition from its slumber. Give Harapan a rude wake-up call via Tanjung Piai. It’s about time too!
I also think that BN made the correct decision by allowing the MCA to contest its traditional seat. That is the right thing to do, notwithstanding the loud protests from certain Umno quarters.
MCA’s Wee Jeck Seng also lost Tanjung Piai in GE14 by a narrow margin. If Umno/PAS and MIC could work the ground diligently to tilt the many fence-sitters in their favour, Wee would have a good chance of victory.
Although reports that MCA had threatened to quit the BN if not given the chance to re-contest Tanjung Piai have not been independently verified, I wish that was true.
If so, MCA has shed its ‘Umno macai’ stigma. In some ways, MCA president Wee Ka Siong seems to be leading the party towards better days by justifying some of his tough decisions and getting BN partners to listen.
In this case, Ka Siong and MCA are aware that if Tanjung Piai is given away, the party might as well go its own way or close shop.
On the other end of the spectrum, Umno/PAS and MIC only know too well that without MCA, they will probably have to kiss BN goodbye.
Overall, it has generally been agreed that it was a prudent and wise BN decision.
Why, even Lokman Noor Adam, the known Malay ultra in Umno, has lobbied for the MCA to be given the candidacy. This came as a pleasant surprise.
In passing, let me also note my observation of the new and younger MCA president over the past year. Ka Siong, in my opinion, is the best Bahasa Malaysia speaker among Chinese parliamentarians.
He is very fluent, speaks clearly with proper diction and is easily understood. In several of his debates which I’ve listened to, it is obvious that he had done his homework and came to Parliament well-prepared. On this score, Ka Siong put many of the Chinese DAP parliamentarians to shame.
Perhaps, after Tanjung Piai, we will see two Wees in the august house. Then, lone-ranger Ka Siong will be less lonely.
Keeping up the good fight
If I do not vote for MCA in Tanjung Piai, my other choice is Gerakan. In this case, I take both the party and candidate into consideration.
Wendy is relatively unknown outside Gerakan circles. This is probably because she holds no public post, and hence, has little opportunity to shine in public.
But she represents a multi-racial party and that resonates with many, me included. Malaysians have reasons to be wary of race-based parties because we know only too well the direction in which they are heading. We have heard and seen enough.
Gerakan has seen brighter days and had well-respected leaders like the late Dr Lim Chong Eu, Dr Tan Chee Khoon and Dr Lim Keng Yaik. When the more servile Koh Tsu Koon took over as president, it marked the decline of Gerakan.
One thing I have to say of those Gerakan die-hards who stay behind in the party – they deserve my salute. Fly-by-night politicians with no party loyalty will leave for greener pastures once the chips are down.
To Gerakan president Dominic Lau, Wendy and all in the party, stay true to your beliefs and principles and keep up the good fight.
Although there are six candidates, the battle lines are quite clear. The contest is a toss-up between Harapan and BN.
Much has been written about what is at stake in this by-election. I wouldn’t bother about them.
To me, nothing much could be at stake in a by-election. A Tanjung Piai victory is either another uplift of Harapan’s ego or a much-needed boost to a struggling MCA.
A week after Nov 16, few will remember what happened in Tanjung Piai.
But I must echo Pusat Komas’ timely reminder to the contending parties to refrain from using race and religion as their political tools in galvanising the support of the masses.
“All parties must be mindful of the rising divisive elements in our multi-ethnic society and realise that exemplifying qualities of matured politics would be significantly healthy to Malaysia,” said Komas.
This is really all that matters in Tanjung Piai over the next two weeks.
Unfortunately, I am not a registered voter in Tanjung Piai. MCA or Gerakan will have one vote less. My apologies.
FRANCIS PAUL SIAH heads the Movement for Change, Sarawak (MoCS) and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.