by Lim Mun Fah
The Malaysian Insider
March 22, 2013
MARCH 22 — Many Pakatan Rakyat supporters were filled with a wild ecstatic happiness and believed that it would be a sure-win battle when Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim made the announcement that DAP parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang will contest in Gelang Patah, Johor. Most members of public also believe that his odds of winning are extremely high.
If we analyse calmly, however, the MCA might not necessarily lose the battle. Nothing is impossible in politics. Moreover, Lim is not God, he has suffered five defeats in his political career over the past nearly half a century, including the Serdang state seat in the 1968 by-election, the Bandar Hilir state seat in 1982, the Tanjung Bungah state seat in 1995, and the Bukit Bendara parliamentary seat, as well as the Kebun Bunga state seat in 1999, plunging his political career into a trough.
There is a certain risk for Lim to contest in Gelang Patah, the MCA’s turf. If we look at the election records of Gelang Patah, the MCA’s Chang See Ten @ Teu Si won the seat with 24,219-vote majority in 1995 and 26,405-vote majority in 1999. In 2004, the MCA’s then fresh candidate Tan Ah Eng achieved a peak by winning the seat with a 31,666-vote majority, and given the anti-ruling party sentiment in 2008, Tan still won the seat with 8,851-vote majority. The record shows that Gelang Patah has been a stronghold of the MCA and it is not that easy to pull it down.
The two Gelang Patah MPs, namely Chang and Tan, have been recognised as people-serving lawmakers with a cordial image. They have gained a good reputation over the past 18 years and secured a certain number of votes for the MCA. However, it was said that Gelang Patah MCA division chairman Teoh Sew Hock would be fielded to contest this time, triggering an internal factional struggle. The DAP, which has eyeballed the seat for 20 years, sees it as an opportunity and thus, came out with such an arrangement and strategy.
Obviously, the DAP is targeting not only the Gelang Patah parliamentary seat, but to make a breakthrough in Johor with Lim’s personal charisma and popularity and to achieve the ultimate goal of seizing Putrajaya.
Lim’s risky move reminds me of two opposition leaders in a neighbouring country: Low Thia Khiang and Chiam See Tong. They used similar strategies but received different outcomes.
In the 2011 Singapore election, both Low and Chiam decided not to seek re-election in their respective Single Member Constituencies and instead contested in Group Representation Constituencies. As a result, Low successfully made a breakthrough and increased the number of parliamentary seats of the Workers’ Party from one to six, while pushing the party’s and his personal prestige to the peak.
As for Chiam, his team was defeated by the PAP’s team in Bishan-Toa Payoh Group Representation Constituency while his wife narrowly lost in Potong Pasir. The setback has basically ended Chiam’s political career.
The above examples show that even with seemingly similar strategies, there are still differences in deployment and tactic, which will lead to different outcomes. The political situation is still evolving and the BN’s strategy remains unknown. It is now a bit too early to say Lim will surely win and it will also lead to the mistake of underestimating the enemy! — mysinchew.com