May 28, 2014
ANALYSIS After nine days of campaigning, the fate of the Teluk Intan parliamentary by-election could ultimately be decided by voters not even residing in the constituency itself.
A return of these outstation voters would likely result in a DAP victory, while a low turnout could well work in BN’s favour.
Like many small towns in Perak, a large population of Teluk Intan’s registered voters are residing outside the town, mainly working in the Klang Valley.
By BN’s candidate Mah Siew Keong’s estimate, almost 30 percent of registered voters live away and need to return to Teluk Intan to vote, most of whom are young people inclined to the opposition.
This is why DAP has launched a Jom Balik Undi campaign, to urge voters to return to Teluk Intan this Saturday, while its leaders consistently stress the need of a high turnout for the party to confidently win the by-election.
In the last general election, Teluk Intan registered a 80 percent turnout, the highest ever recorded in the constituency.
But with the aim to takeover Putrajaya no longer feasible a year on, it remains to be seen if the outstation voters would return in droves to vote in this by-election.
DAP gets antsy
DAP had even started calling and messaging some voters to remind them about this by-election, but there had been some mixed signals as to how the young voters are responding to this tactic.
While there might be many who would return after the reminder, there are also some who have voiced their discontent with the approach itself.
The antsy party has also arranged for subsidised transportation for voters in Klang Valley and Singapore in order to bring in the votes.
For Mah, the opposite is true. A lower turnout is likely to benefit him and BN.
This way, elders who are residing in Teluk Intan would influence their children instead of the the other way around, which is what he said happened in the 2013 general election.
Mah may see the low turnout of just 56 percent in the recent Bukit Gelugor by-election as a sign of hope, while for DAP, it rings an alarm bell.
But unlike in Bukit Gelugor where DAP’s Ramkarpal Singh Deo was a clear favourite, Mah and DAP’s Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud are in a tough fight for the Teluk Intan parliamentary seat.
The presence of a host of BN ministers throughout the campaign period to help Mah has brought new attention to the plight of the people here, especially those on the outskirts of the city.
Despite the late MP Seah Leong Peng’s solid 7,600-vote majority in the last general election, DAP this time has brought in their own Pakatan Rakyat powerhouses, and even raised campaign funds from the public to keep up with BN’s razzle dazzle.
This neck-to-neck style of campaignning in Teluk Intan may, however, not be reflected outside the borders of the small town or inspire outside voters to return.
With such uncertainty in the air, both sides are claiming to be underdogs and keeping their feet on the ground to avoid blame in the event of a defeat.
DAP had said that optimistically, they would only win by 1,000 votes, while as at yesterday, Mah had given himself a 45 per cent chance of winning the polls.
When the Teluk Intan goes to polls this Saturday, the voting pattern will decide if the mammoth momentum for change generated in the 13th general elections is still alive, a year on.