By James Gough
The 13th General Election held on Sunday May 5, referred to as “The Mother of All Elections”, registered a very high voter turnout of about 84 per cent nationwide. The results of the election in Perak were announced in the early morning of Monday May 6, at the official residence of Perak Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir. At around 2am Zambry took to the podium to announce that BN had been re-elected to administer the state of Perak for another 5-year term. It had won 31 state seats as compared to Pakatan Rakyat’s 28 state seats. Of the 24 parliamentary seats in Perak both BN and PR had won 12 each.
“The atmosphere was like a neighbourhood gathering”
Gathered there were the BN candidates and the party’s volunteers who had helped during the 15 days of campaigning since Nomination Day on April 20. Present were former MB Tan Sri Tajol Rosli, incumbent MPs for Tambun Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadziah and Padang Rengas Dato’ Seri Mohd Nazri Abdul Aziz.
In his first address as the newly-minted Menteri Besar, Zambry thanked the voters for giving him the mandate to serve them for another five years. “I am humbled by your trust in me to serve you for another term. I am aware of our responsibilities, which is to fulfil our pledges in line with our “janji ditepati” (“promises fulfilled”) slogan, he said.
Admitting that BN Perak had won by a slim majority of three seats he added that it was still better than that in 2008 when PR won by a similar margin. “It’s the reverse now”, he exclaimed. Zambry won his state constituency of Pangkor (N52) with a majority of 5,124 votes.
Earlier on the night of May 5, the DAP candidates for Ipoh Timor and Ipoh Barat were informed of their party’s clean sweep at their respective counting stations.
DAP’s Ipoh Timor candidates of Thomas Su (P64), Wong Kah Woh (N25), Ong Boon Piow (N26) and Howard Lee (N27) received their good news before 11pm. Present was BN’s parliamentary candidate, Kathleen Wong who graciously congratulated Su on his win.
However, Ipoh Barat candidates M. Kulasegaran (P65), Cheong Chee Khing (N28) and A. Sivasubramaniam (N30) received their good news after 12.30am on Monday, May 6.
High Voter Turnout
Ipoh consists of the five parliamentary seats:
P63: Tambun including N23 Manjoi and N24 Hulu Kinta
P64: Ipoh Timor including N25 Canning, N26 Tebung Tinggi and N27 Pasir Pinji
P65: Ipoh Barat including N28 Bercham, N29 Kepayang and N30 Buntong
P66: Batu Gajah including N31 Jelapang and N32 Menglembu
P71: Gopeng including N43 Sungai Rapat and N44 Simpang Pulai.
Due to earlier calls for voters to return home to vote, voter turnout was very good with successful candidates winning by large margins. This was evident for Tambun, Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni Hanadziah (BN), turnout: 85 per cent, majority 9,325; Gopeng, Dr Lee Boon Chye (PKR) turnout 83.4 per cent, majority 15,300 and Ipoh Barat, M. Kulasegaran, turnout: 80.9%, majority 29,038, to name a few. With the exception of Tambun, the other four parliamentary seats were won outright by Pakatan Rakyat.
At the 2008 polls, Sungai Rapat (N43) under Gopeng was won by Dato’ Hamidah Osman (BN). This time however, she lost to Radzi bin Zainon of PAS (2,638 votes). Sg Rapat has 42,873 voters comprising of Malay 59 per cent, Chinese 31 per cent and Indian 10 per cent.
On the morning of Sunday May 5, voters from Canning could be seen walking to their polling station even before 8am. By 10am lines of voters could be seen queuing up to cast their votes although by afternoon the numbers appeared to have dwindled.
Overall, the process was generally smooth and the atmosphere was like a neighbourhood gathering where whole families could be seen greeting old friends at the registration table. One parent remarked that coming to the polls this time was like ching meng, the Chinese all souls day where whole families would return home for the occasion.
Over at Buntong, the queues were still busy even at 3pm which prompted some of the polling workers to wonder if all voters could be processed in time.
Another interesting observation of the voter turnout was the large number of youngsters at the polling stations. It prompted V. Sivakumar to exclaim, “It’s a wonderful sight everywhere.”
Ipoh Echo subsequently interviewed the successful parliamentary candidates to get their views on problems affecting their constituencies.
One pertinent issue that was highlighted to all the candidates during the campaign period was the failure of the local council services, specifically regarding SLR (sampah, longkang and rumput) or rubbish, drains and uncut grass. The others are gaping potholes and poor street lighting. Voters complained that the services available are poor.
Voters complained about the disposal of commercial waste. They regarded it as poor although shopkeepers are paying extra. The other consistent complaint was the poor public bus service and the exorbitant taxi fares and, interestingly, frustration over parking space at the General Hospital.
Dato’ Seri Ahmad Husni was not available for the interview. The new state assemblyman for Hulu Kinta, Dato’ Aminnudin Mat Hanafiah admitted that local council issues and public transport services were highlighted during his campaign walkabouts.
Members of Parliament for Gopeng, Dr Lee Boon Chye and Ipoh Timor, Thomas Su Seong Kiong stated that the Ipoh airport should be better connected to regional airports like Bangkok or Manila to enable investors and tourists to access Ipoh faster. Dr Lee added that Gopeng, with its established eco-adventure resorts and caves, would benefit from more tourists arrivals while Su stated investors had indicated a need for direct flights to Ipoh.
Ipoh Barat candidate M. Kulasegaran highlighted that flooding, while being addressed, still occurs. Security and squatters are the other problems that have yet to be resolved.
Dato’ Seri Husni had earlier hinted on creating more libraries and co-curricular facilities such as basketball courts within his constituency. These are long-term goals for youth development and leadership skills.
Regarding economic activities and upgrades, all are agreeable that more industries offering more opportunities for skilled workers, should be created. This should be followed up by establishing vocational colleges. This could help raise the standard of living of the constituents.
The elected candidates felt the pulse of their voters and will be sitting with their respective state assemblymen and teamsters to work out a workable solution or solutions.
All of the candidates spoken to are agreeable on one pertinent point – the eyes of the rakyat have been opened at last and they are demanding for a better future.