By James Gough
The day of reckoning is here, specifically on May 5, the day Malaysians throughout the country go to the polls. Ever since the dissolution of Parliament and the Perak state assembly on April 3, there has only been one single topic that every Malaysian talks about every day – the upcoming election. Caretaker Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir announced the list of BN’s candidates on April 16. The informal Opposition coalition of PAS, PKR and DAP made known their candidate list two days later on April 18.
Malaysia’s Mother of all Elections
A glaring difference in this year’s lineup is the large number of new and young candidates compared to the previous election. The line-up includes Canning Councillor Ceylyn Tay (BN) running for the Canning state seat. She is up against incumbent Wong Kah Woh (DAP). Over at Bercham Lim Huey Shan (BN) will square off with Cheong Chee Keoing (DAP); both are new faces.
Another notable change is veteran politician Lim Kit Siang. He is giving up Ipoh Timor parliamentary seat to move to Gelang Patah, Johor. He is replaced by Thomas Su Keong Siong, previously State Assemblyman for Pasir Pinji, a constituency of Ipoh Timor.
However, none of the above can beat the ‘David vs Goliath’ contest for the parliamentary seat of Tambun. Incumbent Dato’ Seri Husny Hanadziah (BN), the country’s second Finance Minister was MP for the last four terms. Husny is being challenged by a rookie, 27-year-old Siti Aishah Shaik Ismail (PKR). Siti is an IT and Communications diploma holder who entered politics barely three years ago. She campaigns by going house to house in the morning and holding ceramah at night markets.
Siti, born in Manjoi, states that, of Tambun’s 90,000 voters, 65 per cent are low-income earners. Forty one per cent of the constituents are below the age of 40. She feels they will give her a fighting chance in making an impact on the voters.
Both BN and PR have come out with their manifestos pledging to carry out changes if voted into power. PR announced their manifesto on April 8 while BN announced theirs on Monday April 15 which led to accusations of copying and stealing of ideas. Nevertheless, BN has a clear advantage as their manifesto has a list of actions already implemented and delivered for the benefit of the rakyat. If you want an update on issues that are being talked about, attend the many ceramah taking place around town.
Since the dissolution of Parliament on April 3, DAP has been conducting ceramah almost every week. Their ceramah programme can be accessed at dapperak.org. Ceramah locations and timings, stretching from Kampar to Taiping, are on display.
DAP ceramahs held around Ipoh are well attended. Can this be used as a barometer of their popularity? It remains to be seen on May 5.
The question on each voters’ lips is whether the ruling BN government can retain the administration of not only the country but that of the state of Perak?
For senior voters, the memory of how BN came to power in Perak still lingers on while others feel that the economic stability provided by Zambry’s government over the last four years is a positive alternative for the state and future generations.
Despite prevailing sentiments most Perakeans share a common trait. Many of them have encouraged their children, studying and working outside of Ipoh, to return home to vote. Could this be the beginning of better things to come? Your guess is as good as mine.