Tag Archives: Malaysian 13th general elections

GE13: “The Mother of All Elections”

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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.

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GE13 Mother of all elections 1“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.
GE13 Mother of all elections 3Admitting 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.

GE13 Mother of all elections 6
The elected BN candidates

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.

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The elected Tambun candidates (L-R): Mohd Ziad, Dato’
Seri Ahmad Husni and Dato’ Aminnudin
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Elected: Dr Lee Boon Chye (Gopeng P71)

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.

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Elected: M. Kulasegaran (Ipoh Barat P64)

 

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.

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Elected; Ipoh Timor P64 led by Thomas Su Keong Siong (3rd from left)

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.

A Foregone Conclusion

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By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

A Foregone Conclusion

I had underestimated the resolve of Ipohites to make their presence felt during polling day on Sunday, May 5. Believing that we would be among the early birds, my wife, son and I were pleasantly surprised by the huge number of people massing around SJK (C) Bercham, the designated polling station for those living in areas around Bercham. There were a total of 16 streams or saluran. The voters were assigned their streams based on their age and localities. My wife and I were in one and my son in another.

It was well organised and Election Commission (EC) officials were readily available to guide voters to their streams and to provide the much needed information, especially for first-timers, the disabled and the infirmed. A few were seen on wheelchairs with their minders providing the push.

Although we were at the school by 9am the number of people milling around the various counters was huge. Apparently, some were there as early as 6am in the morning, well before opening time at 8am.

Being grouped among the oldies, we completed our responsibility an hour later. My son, however, finished much faster. He was by our side in less than 20 minutes and proudly showed his left index figure, which was dabbed in indelible ink, an indicator of his conclusion with GE13. He had returned from Melbourne to fulfil his obligation as a registered voter after failing to do so in the March 2008 general election.

The pervading atmosphere was very much carnival-like. Although Bercham is a Chinese-dominated area, a number of Malays and Indians were there too. What was so special about the occasion was the manner in which the whole episode was conducted. There was no hustling, no shouting and no prompting. The people knew what was expected of them and they went about their business of casting their votes in a very orderly manner.

Their coming out in droves, with their kids and parents in tow, was a good enough indication that democracy was alive and kicking, in spite of some chilling prophesies that the opposite would happen.

We were thrilled that our objective of proving that Malaysians, by and large, are responsible people who abhor violence and are peace-loving, was achieved with little fuss.

Upon completion I lingered for a while to see if any foreign-looking voters were around. We were warned to be on the look out as the threat of pengundi hantu (phantom voters) was real. News of an influx of Bangladeshis, Myanmese, Nepalese and Indonesians, purposely flown in by chartered flights from Sabah and Sarawak, was making the headlines in the social media. These phantom voters were there for a reason – to dilute the number of votes going to the opposition coalition, Pakatan Rakyat (PR).

I saw none. I guess Bercham, being an opposition stronghold, having these hantus was of no consequence. They must have been assigned to constituencies where the difference between winning and losing was marginal. This could be the reason why the results for the state seats of Manjoi, Lubok Merbau, Pasir Panjang and Tapah are being challenged and a court petition is pending.

The results were, however, a foregone conclusion. Barisan Nasional (BN) won Perak with a slim three-seat majority. Pakatan Rakyat got 625,710 votes or 54.79 per cent of the ballots while BN received 506,947 votes or 44.3 percent of the ballots but managed to form the state government. Had the American presidential election system been adopted, PR would have won hands down. Delineation of polling boundaries or more succinctly, gerrymandering, an evil long outlawed in many matured democracies in the West is the primary cause for this disparity.

The last delineation exercise was conducted in 2002 and adopted by Parliament in 2003. According to the federal constitution, there must be an interval of not less than eight years between two delineation exercises. A two-thirds majority support in Parliament and the state assemblies are required to approve the new constituency boundaries. This is, however, not possible presently as BN has lost its two-thirds majority. But the EC can make its own adjustments, as the laws provide for such an exigency.

The swearing-in ceremony of Dato’ Seri DiRaja Zambry Abd Kadir as the 12th Menteri Besar of Perak on Wednesday May 7, was marred by the absence of the 28 Opposition state assemblymen. Will this be the trend for future sittings of the state legislative assembly?

There is much distrust in the air. Credibility of the ruling coalition has gone down the drain. Is it proper to apportion blame on one community for the setbacks? Must Chinese be punished for making a choice? Is reconciliation possible under such circumstances? I have no answers.

The road ahead is littered with obstacles which only the righteous can navigate.

Making Your Vote Count

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By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

We are into the final stretch of the race and whoever breasts the tape first wins. That happens in a 100-metre dash where a fraction of a second makes a difference, for it separates the winner from the loser. In this blue-ribbon event, physique alone is not the determinant. On a bad day even the best sprinter on the field will lose.

Editorial desk But what if that someone is being aided by performance-enhancement drugs that are outlawed in the sporting world? The fall from grace of seven-time Tour de France champion, Lance Armstrong is a case in point. The internationally acclaimed cyclist had admitted to taking drugs to improve his cycling prowess. And it took the international cycling fraternity awhile to condemn his actions.

Why do I allude to such an example in amplifying our upcoming 13th General Election? The answer is simple. Here we have opponents from two distinct camps (or three if we take into consideration the Independents) vying for control of the federal and state governments. And they are all using all the ‘enhancements’ they have access to, for a win at the polls.

All 222 parliamentary and 505 state seats are up for grabs. Incidentally, for reasons best known to all, the number of Independent candidates in the upcoming general election is the largest ever in the nation’s electoral history. At the close of Nomination Day on April 20 some 270 have registered themselves as Independent candidates. Out of this number, 79 are contesting for parliamentary seats while the remaining 191 are targeting state seats.

Interestingly, 61 or 22 per cent of these Independents are former UMNO members who have been expelled from the party. And that includes the former Wanita UMNO Deputy President, Kamilia Ibrahim who is contesting in the Kuala Kangsar parliamentary seat.

editorial desk 1Although party leaders have vehemently denied any discontentment within the party’s fold, the number speaks for itself. This phenomenon, however, is not confined to UMNO alone, it has also affected the Barisan Nasional coalition parties, to a lesser degree, and the Opposition Pakatan  Rakyat, as evidenced by the three-corner fight for the Jelapang state seat closer home.

The advantage of incumbency, coupled with a “limitless” supply of funds and a pro-establishment mainstream media, will make the task of dislodging Barisan Nasional from its perch difficult. But then again anything can happen, as in the game of football the ball is round not square.

In terms of preparedness I would say both sides are well prepared. It is the extent that really matters. On Pakatan Rakyat’s side the most vocal and prepared to my mind are PAS and DAP. This is not to discount PKR’s resolve in making an impression but its visibility is somewhat diminished. The Perak PAS youth wing and its liaison division, led by their respective leaders, went on the offensive from the word go. In fact, both have been active since last year organising ceramah and media conferences to highlight BN’s improprieties.

Accusations and counter-accusations are the staples of these organised gatherings. Whether this methodology will have an impact on voters’ choice is debatable. Opposition ceramah, however, draws the crowd. This is attributable to the one-sided views gleaned from the government-owned newspapers and television networks, Astro included. Online and social media have become the medium of choice for the Opposition to propagate their views. Those wishing to hear unbiased news have resorted to the alternative media instead. I find certain news items in the national dailies lopsided, exaggerated and also demeaning.

Manifestos were never the ‘in’ thing in previous elections. Somehow the trend has been bucked in GE 13, as proponents on both sides of the political divide try to outdo one another in coming up with the catchiest manifestos. It does not matter that they are a repeat of earlier promises so long as they are “original”, as one party stalwart insisted.

Both sides promise the rakyat plenty and high on the list is making life more pleasant for all. Makes me wonder what the incumbent government have been doing for the past 56 years? Why make all these promises when you have had over five decades to fulfil them?

Even BN candidate for the state seat of Pasir Pinji, Dato’ Thong Fah Chong has his own manifesto. Making cheap public transport available for his constituents is high on his agenda.

So what is in stock for Perakeans come Election Day on May 5? Do we wish to make a stand and make change a reality? Najib has said that there is no need for change as the party can change from within. Are these platitudes enough to convince us? I leave it to your better judgment to decide what is best.

If GE 13 is to be the mother of all elections let us join the fray and make every vote counts. I am all ready for the big day. What about you?

GE13 It’s Time to Decide

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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.

Barisan National
Barisan National
Pakatan Rakyat
Pakatan Rakyat
Ceylyn Tay  (BN) & Wong Kah Woh (DAP)
Ceylyn Tay (BN) & Wong Kah Woh (DAP)

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.

Siti Aishah Shaik Ismail (PKR) – 3rd from left & Dato’ Seri Husny Hanadziah (BN) – 5th from left
Siti Aishah Shaik Ismail (PKR) – 3rd from left & Dato’ Seri Husny Hanadziah (BN) – 5th from left

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?

DAP ceramah at Bercham with Lim Guan Eng at the microphone
DAP ceramah at Bercham with Lim Guan Eng at the microphone

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.

Barisan National
Zambry launches BN Perak’s manifesto ‘Aku Janji’

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.

It’s Finally Here

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By Fathol Zaman Bukhari

The long wait is finally over when the Prime Minister announced the dissolution of Parliament on Wednesday, April 3. The guessing game went on for over a year as many Malaysians had expected the dissolution to take place in March 2012. In the process one state government was automatically dissolved after having outlived its tenure. Had not the April 3 announcement been made, a few more state governments, including that of Perak, would have acquired similar distinction. The legitimacy of the Negeri Sembilan’s state legislature ended on March 28, the first ever in the nation’s recorded history.

IT_S FINALLY HEREThe much-awaited announcement was made at 11.32am on Wednesday, April 3, two days after April Fools’ Day. It was carried live by national television and, in default, by satellite television and telecasted worldwide.

In making the announcement the Prime Minister gave his commitment to respect and preserve the democratic process and the choice made by the people. He went further by saying that “any transition of power would be conducted in a peaceful and orderly manner in tandem with democratic principles, the politics of transformation and national interest.”

Najib’s assurance is definitely something cheery to hear, as rumours are abound that a difficult transition would ensue if the inevitable happens.

The Perak State Assembly was dissolved the same day after Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir had sought the consent of the acting Sultan. On the auspicious day the state assemblies of Perlis, Malacca and Sabah were similarly dissolved.

Exactly a week after the dissolution, the Election Commission, on Wednesday, April 10, announced the dates for nomination, campaigning and polling. Malaysians will exercise their rights to vote on Sunday, May 5 while those seeking a new term in office will announce their candidacy on Saturday, April 20. Campaigning period will last for 15 days, the longest since the first parliamentary and state elections in 1959.

Eyes will of course be focused on Perak. Speculations are rife, considering the publicity the state had garnered since the “ouster” of the Nizar-led Pakatan Rakyat government on February 6, 2009.

I have been approached several times to give my prediction. As in any given case the strength of incumbency holds sway. The odds are obviously on the Opposition in making an impact on voters’ choice. But like they say, anything can happen. Najib’s dithering has its advantages. It provided Opposition parties with ample time to exercise their skills in convincing the electorate. And they did it in many ways – both subtle and not so subtle. Of the three major parties making the informal Pakatan Rakyat coalition PAS is most vocal. Its youth wing has been in overdrive mode since early last year.

The party’s Strategic and Issues Committee has made several complaints, the latest being the Election Commission’s choice of April 20 as Nomination Day for candidates vying in the 13th general election. “It’s a day after the Sultan of Perak’s 85th birthday on April 19. We expressed regrets over the insensitivity of the Commission in fixing dates for GE13. We request that the Commission seeks the Sultan’s forgiveness in appointing April 20 as Nomination Day.” That was the gist of its letter to the media. I expect complaints of every nature to come my way as the deadline for the upcoming election approaches. Even the seemingly dubious sale of the Perak House in Penang is not spared. More dirty linen will be out in the open soon. One needs to keep an ear to the ground to hear the rumblings.

Party nomination is a closely watched affair, especially the naming of candidates contesting in high-profile parliamentary and state seats. Imran Abdul Hamid, a former naval officer, will contest in the Lumut parliamentary constituency. Imran is nominated on a PAS ticket. Perak Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir is coy about Imran contesting in his backyard. “This is a democratic process and anyone can stand for election,” he remarked.

The jostling for seats has long begun and no party is spared this phenomenon. Although Zambry has several times declared that everything is hunky dory within the Perak Barisan Nasional fold, the conflicting announcements by MIC leaders about the Sungai Siput parliamentary seat is just the tip of the iceberg. Whether the infamous frogs would be reassigned their seats is a foregone conclusion. If winnable candidates, as espoused by Najib and Zambry, be the criterion, fielding these “frogies” will be one regrettable mistake no one is prepared to commit.

There are four sets of voters, although my Oracle said three. One is the first-time voters, those within the 21 to 25 age gap. These youngsters are IT savvy and will vote for change, as they have nothing to lose or fear. Next is the 30 to 45 age group, those with a career to pursue and a family to feed. They will prefer that the current status quo be maintained. Then comes the retirees and pensioners, some with sentimental attachments to the Old Order, some without. They will vote according to their whims and urging. The fourth is the fence sitters. This group of people are the most difficult. Whoever manages to convince them will win the race.

I am with the third group and my mind is made up. What about you?