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MGG: Indera Kayangan: UMNO in the spotlight
By M.G.G. Pillai

18/1/2002 8:26 pm Fri

The candidates are Chinese, but MCA is no where to be seen, if Malaysian press and media news on the hustings in Indera Kayangan is any guide. The deputy prime minister, Dato' Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is certain the MCA candidate would be returned with a majority, not a higher majority he was sure of until now. With due respect, how could one win an election with a minority in a straight fight as hard fought as this? (I know of only one -- in Kuala Kubu Bahru state assembly seat in the 1969 general elections, when MCA dumped its the sitting member: his supporters spoilt their ballot papers, all 5,009 of them, which was more than the winner's; but surely Dato' Seri Abdullah did not have this in mind) The MCA president, Dato' Seri Ling Liong Sik, has little to say but pour scorn on Parti Keadilan Nasional (Keadilan) though not the candidate, Mr Khoo Yang Chong, a popular Chinese community leader.

The campaign is vicious. Accusations are made with abandon. Both the National Front (BN) and the Alternative Front (BA) are guilty of it, and BN, especially its Perlis mentri besar, Dato' Seri Shahidan Kassim, scurries for cover. His threat to sue an opposition leader for RM1,000,000 for defaming him lead to a further libel of him having "slept with artistes, actresses and under-aged girls". He must now carry out his threat. But he clearly runs for cover. His UMNO Perlis is against him and wants to blacken him. The MCA campaign is an extension of its internal problems, Indera Kayangan yet another turf battle. UMNO must contend with its problems at the centre and state.

In this confusion comes one one remarkable statement, the only one in this byelection, when Mr Khoo said if he is returned, the Chinese community would get "two representatives for the price of one" for he would be state assemblyman and Mrs Oui would return to be Dato' Seri Shahidan's special assistant for the community. The BN, shakens to its roots, redoubled its attacks on the opposition, in panic than design. But its campaign was defensive from the start. The MCA candidate, Mrs Oui Ah Lan, is Dr Ling's choice; that she is on Dato' Seri Shahidan's staff gave her two black marks, with the Malay and the Chinese. That the byelection is fought on the leadership of Dr Ling and the Prime Minister, Dato' Seri Mahathir Mohamed. And if Dato' Seri Shahidan should continue to alienate Malays by continuing in office.

The campaign stops at midnight tonight (18 January 2002). BN shows its metier with tokens like the MCA Youth forming a 120-man "action" team to counter Opposition propaganda. By the time it meets for its first meeting, the election is history. The Malaysian Indian Muslim Congress (Kimma), which exists to claim what it cannot enforce, is certain of the Indian Muslims vote for the MCA candidate. How many Indian Muslims are there in the constituency? It does not know. But it is sure who they would vote for. If you go by the BN claims, Mrs Oui is a sure winner with a comfortable majority. Especially with three-to-four campaigners for every voter. The opposition is on a shoe string and so, BN believes, cannot win. The defections and threats to sue must, it hopes, dampen its enthusiasm. Which is why Dato' Seri Abdullah is sure his candidate would be returned with more votes than his opponent. If the opposition is returned, one assumes it would be because its candidated polled less than the MCA candidates. Confused? Yes, as I am over BN statements I read in Malaysia's free press!

M.G.G. Pillai