Thursday, April 8, 2010

Hulu Selangor - 50:50

I have been to Hulu Selangor, Felda and Bandar Sungai Buaya to be precise for the last 3 general elections since my wife is a voter there. I do have many relatives and friends there.

Like everywhere else then, rural areas like Hulu Selangor are bastion of BN. The MIC candidate, G Palanivel has been the MP for 4 terms before he lost marginally in the 2008 elections. BN on the other hand won all three state seats in Hulu Selangor, but not without a tough fight with Pakatan Rakyat.

Palanivel used to gloat that Hulu Selangor constituency is huge and difficult to manage. He always says that Hulu Selangor is bigger than Perlis. Actually, there is nothing much to show in his 4 terms there. Much of the development in the area is attributed to former Selangor MB, Muhammad Taib.

Palanivel, I was reliably informed, was arrogant, at least his assistants were. Since he claimed that Hulu Selangor was bigger than the smallest Sultanate (Perlis) in the country, he behaved like a Sultan. He distanced himself from the populace and busy with his government post and left constituency work to his arrogant assistants.

Even after the last elections, Palanivel did not bother to continue his service. Only when the news trickled in that the incumbent PKR MP was seriously ill, Palanivel sprung into action and reactivated his service centre. His motives are evident, more so after winning the deputy president seat at the MIC elections.

Apart from hard core MIC supporters, Indians in the Hulu Selangor do not support him. Despite the huge campaign for him in the party mouth piece, Tamil Nesan, the fact remains that he does not enjoy the support of both Indians and Malays in the area.

Indians who has turned their support to Pakatan Rakyat in the last elections are confused. A large number of them no longer have faith in Pakatan Rakyat since they do not see much change in their area under the Pakatan Rakyat government and an absent MP.

However, on the other hand they see that their option is limited to their most hated personality, Samy Vellu and his proxy crony Palanivel. Most of those in this category, have somewhat embraced changes that PM Najib is trying to implement for the good of all, but they cannot forgive Samy Vellu and his cronies for their past misdeeds. They might still vote for Pakatan if BN candidate is from MIC.

This has led to emergence of at least 5 hopeful independent candidates, most of whom are ex-MIC local leaders, who was once close ally of Palanivel. These developments are surprisingly not reported in English or Malay dailies and news portals.

The declaration on intent to contest in the Tamil Newspapers by these independents were mainly to harass Palanivel and pressure BN to change their candidate, although at least 2 of them might actually contest. There were also allegations in Tamil Nesan, MIC’s mouth piece that former Deputy President, Dato S. Subramaniam, is behind these candidates with the intention of splitting the Indian votes, which could become crucial. Subra denied the allegations reiterating that he has no intention to cause BN to fail. These are some of fights that take place in the sidelines where old foes have a chance to be in the limelight once again.

If one where to go to some of the towns within the constituency, only the blind would not be able to see various banners, posters hung around towns on Rawang, Serendah and Batang Kali opposing Palanivel’s candidacy.

In Bandar Sungair Buaya, where majority of the Felda settlers had their land robbed by a developer which had since been folded, their message is clear ‘ Solve our land issue if you want our votes’ These settlers had enough of both BN and Pakatan’s failure to solve their felda land problem. Read here for more of this particular issue.

Pakatan Rakyat Indians supporters on the other hand are banking on an Indian candidate to be fielded so that Indians votes will definitely favor them should Palanivel is fielded. Selangor Exco Francis Xavier has been to this constituency many times, often to provide state government grants to Hindu Temples, one of the piece meal initiatives ‘ala BN’ of the Selangor State Government.

Xavier appears in the Tamil Newspapers (including Tamil Nesan) almost everyday, to the extend that Hindraf accuses him of being publicity crazy PKR ‘Mandor’. Hindraf is not convinced of the state government’s piece meal efforts and has been pushing for permanent land and grants for temples and Tamil Schools.

Despite all these, the sentiment in the ground is that if Palanivel is fielded, Pakatan Rakyat candidate, provided he/she is a local is sure to win. Although Anwar’s popularity has taken a dip, some local leaders do have some support, so does the Chinese, who have not be taken in by Najib’s various promises. They are still likely to vote for Pakatan Rakyat candidate. Pakatan will have slim chance of winning if they field any ‘parachute’ candidate such as Zaid Ibrahim, who does not appear enjoy the support of the Malays.

BN’s chances are definitely higher is they field any other young MIC candidate and even candidate from UMNO. But their trump card may lie with another huge personality in the state.

If ever, former MB, Muhammad Taib is fielded, Pakatan might as well withdraw from the contest. Muhammad Taib is still hugely popular with all the communities, who still remember him for his service as Batang Kali Adun and also Selangor MB. Unlike Palanivel, Muhammad Taib is humble, easy going and has done a lot for all races there.
I was told that even hard core Pakatan Supporters in the constituency are willing to vote for him.

Najib has announced that the candidate would be from MIC. He chose not to announce Palanivel as the candidate, chances are he might have others in his mind. Recent visits by Samy Vellu and Palanivel to various areas in Hulu Selangor has not been well received, in fact one of the visit to Sg Choh ended up with a fight (again not reported by English or Malay media, mainstream or portals). These news might have reached Najib, hence his refusal to name the candidate yet. We’ll wait and see..

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