I was drinking coffee at the AMG Cafe opposite just now, and suddenly, I got to thinking what I was doing in Sekinchan after 50 years in Malaysian politics, fighting a by-election which everybody says will be won by the UMNO/BN candidate – and even the MCA President, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai is boasting about a “flow-back” of support of Chinese voters for UMNO/Barisan Nasional in Sungai Besar and Peninsular Malaysia, just like what happened in the recent Sarawak state general election last month.
Am I wasting my time in Sekinchan and Sungai Besar and should I just call it a day after 50 years in politics? After all, I am not getting any younger – already past 75 years old!
It will be very difficult and uphill battle – in fact a political “miracle” – for the Amanah and Pakatan Harapan candidate, Azhar Shukor, to win in the Sungai Besar by-election on June 18, and among the reasons are:
1. Sungai Besar parliamentary seat had always been an UMNO/BN stronghold, and UMNO/BN candidates had never lost in a parliamentary contest in this area for the past six decades since Merdeka in 1957.
2. Even at the height of the Opposition power in the 2013 General Election in May 2013, when there was Pakatan Rakyat, UMNO/BN won the Sungai Besar parliamentary seat although by a wafer-thin majority of 399 votes.
3. Now, Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is no more – thanks to the refusal by the PAS President, Datuk Seri Hadi Awang to be true and faithful to the Pakatan Rakyat Common Policy Framework agreed by the three component parties of PR, DAP, PKR and PAS and his unilateral insistence to push for the implementation of hudud law.
4. Although a new opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan (PH) had been formed to replace PR with the establishment of Parti Amanah Negara, AMANAH is the youngest political party in the country started less than nine months ago. Both Pakatan Harapan and AMANAH are untested political entities in Malaysia. Could they do better than PAS and PR in the 2013 General Election?
5. Although the Opposition candidate who lost by a wafer-thin majority of 399 votes in Sungai Besar in the 13th General Election came from PAS, the 18,296 votes secured by the PAS candidate or 48.6% of the votes cast against the 18,695 votes won by the UMNO candidate, the 13th General Election score was the highest ever achieved by PAS candidates who had been contesting in the area in past elections because in the 2013 General Election, the PAS candidate was standing as a Pakatan Rakyat candidate with support from DAP and PKR as well.
Now that PAS had violated the PR Common Policy Framework and caused the disintegration of Pakatan Rakyat, the PAS candidate can only poll less and not more votes than the 13GE figure. I expect the PAS candidate to lose more than 10,000 votes as compared to what PAS secured in the 2013 GE.
In the circumstances, is there any hope or possibility for AMANAH, representing Pakatan Harapan, to win in Sungai Besar – which also returns to my original question as to what I am doing in Sekinchan and Sungai Besar in these two weeks.
I have already stated the reasons why it will be very very difficult – as good as a political “miracle” – for Azhar Shukor, the AMANAH and PR candidate, to win in Sungai Besar.
But it is not impossible, and miracles do happen, although few and far between.
Sekinchan 适耕莊 has a very good name, in Chinese it means suitable for farming villages. It has expanded to become 《《渔米之乡》》适耕莊, not only suitable for vast paddy fields but also rich in fish.
Under the energetic, vigorous and creative leadership of the three-term DAP State Assemblyman for Sekinchan, Ng Suee Lim, Sekinchan is now also famous as a premier agricultural tourist attraction.
History now beckons to Sekinchan to assume leadership for a new role, not just as the base suitable for farming, fishing and tourism, but a political leadership role to “Save Nation, Promote Democracy”.
Although Sungai Besar had always been an UMNO parliamentary stronghold, it is the third most marginal and unsafe parliamentary seat won by UMNO/BN in the 2013 General Election, which saw UMNO/BN losing majority popular vote with Datuk Seri Najib Razak becoming the first minority Prime Minister in Malaysia, having won only 47% of the popular vote but 60% of the 222 parliamentary seats because of unfair and undemocratic delineation of parliamentary constituencies.
If Malaysians are to achieve in the 14th General Election what they failed to do on May 5, 2013 – to achieve a change of government in Putrajaya – then Sungai Besar has an important and even pivotal role, as it is one of the seats which must be won by the Opposition from UMNO/BN control.
If Pakatan Harapan cannot win Sungai Besar in the June 18 by-election, the chances do not look good that there will be a change the government in Putrajaya in the 14th General Election.
A miraculous Amanah victory in the Sungai Besar by-election will send out four messages with far-reaching effects for the political future of Malaysia:
First, that Sekinchan is prepared to transform itself as a centre not only suitable for farming, fishing, tourism but to play a national political leadership role to save Malaysia and protect democracy. Sekinchan will go down into the history books as an important centre to save the nation and protect democracy, and everyone in Sekinchan and Sungai Besar can hold their heads high for generations to come for their patriotic and pivotal role in the by-election on June 18.
Secondly, Sekinchan and Sungai Besar will also send an unmistakable message to the Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak that he must give full and satisfactory accounting for the RM55 billion 1MDB and RM4.2 billion “donation” twin global scandals or he should step down as Prime Minister of Malaysia. It is just not acceptable that the whole world is concerned about 1MDB embezzlement, money-laundering and corruption but not in Malaysia, home of the 1MDB national sovereign fund.
Thirdly, that the agenda for change of government in Putrajaya in the 14th General Election by 2018 is back on track; and
Fourthly, that AMANAH and Pakatan Harapan are capable of continuing the hopes and aspirations of Malaysians as expressed in the 13th General Election for change in Putrajaya to ensure that Malaysia can become an united, harmonious, democratic, just, progressive and prosperous nation that can be an example and show-case to the world of how a multi-racial, multi-religious, multi-lingual and multi-cultural nation can succeed and be a winner in the modern age.
(Speech at the opening Pakatan Harapan ceramah in Sungai Besar by-election in Sekinchan on Nomination Day, Sunday, 5th June 2016 at 9.30 pm)