Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hulu Selangor : No Winners

Now that the battle is over, various armchair analyst and critics from both ends have provided their take on the Hulu Selangor by-elections. Let me provide my view now.

Having been to some of the campaigns as well as talking to mostly Pakatan Supporters throughout the campaign period, the results came as a shock. I was constantly told by Pakatan Supporters that Zaid is very likely to win although from the events that unfolded during the campaign period, I reminded them that it was still 50:50.

Pakatan Supporters, some of whom are local PKR leaders in Serendah with contacts in other small towns like Batang Kali, Kuala Kubu Baru, Sg Choh etc , were confident that PKR will definitely win over Chinese and Indian votes. This is despite Millions that were thrown around by Najib and the BN battalion. They were also confident that Indians will still vote for PKR despite the candidate being another Indian.

They were largely correct. Indians and Chinese took whatever BN gave and still voted for PKR’s Zaid although there is a marginal shift in Indian votes towards BN. Character assassination on Zaid did not really work amongst the non-malay voters. Chinese and Indians still remember Zaid as a man of principles.

So what actually went wrong for Pakatan.

1. As for the candidate, for once Pakatan looked quite arrogant as compared to BN. Kamalanathan did his walkabout in simple attire and running shoes while Zaid went about in his luxury car, says a friend of mine. Perception matters, have we heard enough on this about UMNO leaders before. It appears that PKR is also muda lupa..

2. As for the campaigns, there were largely not interesting. While Chinese can appreciate national issues, the malays and Indians did not. Who cares about APCO when the state government can even resurface the road next to my house, says a Pakatan Supporter. Stolen jet engines, Submarine, Teoh Beng Hock , Kugan etc did not resonate well with the Malays. This is where they lost.

3. Anwar’s association with Jewish leaders were already well known, therefore Malays did not buy his APCO argument.

4. Who will buy your argument when you have people like ‘lori sampah’ Gopalakrishan of Padang Serai talking nonsence half the time. Issues were not carefully chosen to suit the audience.

5. Campaigns were ad-hoc, not well coordinated and at times, the speakers were either not on time or never turned up.

6. PAS campaigns were more focusing on defending Zaid. ‘Allah menyanyangi orang yang bertaubat’ goes one of the sentence. PAS talking about lack of development in Hulu Selangor since independence till Pakatan took over in the last elections does not hold water. Hulu Selangor is far more developed than Kelantan.

7. Local PKR leaders were too demanding, especially Indians. These leaders were holding their sponsors (upper PKR leaders) to ransom. First they were given RM 10,000 to run their operations centre (Bilik Gerakan) and also persuade voters in that particular area, then when Zaid’s drinking issue came about, they went on to demand another RM 10,000 claiming that it would be difficult to persuade voters.

8. Some local PKR leaders were also involved in negotiating with MIC and even Makkal Sakhti party, seeking cash in return of support, even after claiming their dues from PKR sponsors.

9. Some PKR Indians supporters claimed money from both Pakatan and BN for putting up posters around their towns. Talk about party loyalty.

10. PKR and Pakatan Rakyat state government did not do much in Hulu Selangor since the last general elections, despite promise of change for better during the campaign. Being a regular visitor there, even the basic infrastructure was not maintained.

11. Giving out land titles and funds to schools and temples, while were accepted by the residents in Hulu Selangor, they were thought to be no different from BN in terms of vote buying since they are only seen during the elections.

11. Pakatan Rakyat state government did not bother to do anything about the land issue in Felda Sungai Buaya, despite promising to do something in the last general elections. Here they lost about 700 votes to BN.

12. MB Khalid hardly visited this area since taking over the state government. He came to Felda Sungai Buaya for the first time ever on Saturday Morning, asking residents to be cautious and not sign any documents. The same afternoon, Najib came and gave out compensation to some residents and more importantly a plan to develop the land, something viable now since a new highway exit will be constructed by PLUS nearby.

13. PKR Indian leaders were more involved in the Ceramahs rather than site and house visits while MIC leaders were more hands on and were more on the ground, despite facing hostile and sometimes abusive crowd.

14. Pakatan Rakyat and it’s economic advisor did not have any plans on improving the living standards, investments and more job opportunities in Hulu Selangor. They were mostly interested in politicizing everything in their campaigns.

BN on the other hand, in my opinion, did not win anything. Votes for them that really made the difference were from Felda Sungai Buaya (700 votes) and also postal votes, another 700. Other than this, there was no significant shift in votes.

BN is still the champions in the Felda area, however they have failed to win over the Chinese and Indians in the townships. Throwing around millions should have resulted in at least 7-8,000 majority. It didn’t, therefore BN should learn that money can’t buy votes any longer. The Chinese community, despite benefiting millions, did not favour BN at all. Their anger towards UMNO and their leaders are still present.

Najib’s various initiatives such as Government Transformation Plan, New Economic Model, walk about may have brought about a feel good factor but the Chinese appear to want concrete results, more than mere rhetoric. They are also clearly offended with various slip of the tongue and racial slurs by UMNO leaders.

As for the Indians, they are generally still anti-MIC, although they are warming up to Najib. Most of them in Hulu Selangor are blind Pakatan Supporters who are now complaining about Pakatan Rakyat state governments failure to live up to their promises.

Only the PKR ‘Mandore’ Xavier Jeyakumar is popular for giving out funds to various temples and schools. But there were general discontent that that is not what they actually want. They want a better living standard and more job opportunities, something that is not very evident in Hulu Selangor since Pakatan Rakyat took over. One disappointed hardcore Pakatan Rakyat supporter from Felda Sungai Buaya lamented that the comments from one UMNO leader on ‘Indian being beggars’ was proven during the elections when many Indians took money from BN and voted blindly for them (BN).

In the end, this is no vote of confidence for Najib and certainly not for his deputy not this is a victory for Pakatan Rakyat in many areas as claimed by their supporters. Both parties have to remember that during the general elections, they will not be able to have such resources to go around with in the first place. They will also not have all their heavyweight leaders around for all ceramahs around the country within the traditionally short campaign period.

Therefore what they do between now and the next elections matters. If anything, the clear winners were Kamalanathan, who can hold his head high for a very decent debut while Hulu Selangor residents were the main beneficiary from the goodies thrown at them by opposing sides.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Hulu Selangor : Pakatan's Personal Attacks & Hypocrisy

I am again bemused with Pakatan supporters. When put on a defensive mode, they suddenly turn into some right thinking clean and positive supporters. They have the cheek to call others hypocrites.

They have forgotten that they were equally bad, naughty and ugly before. Who started all these name calling, blatant accusations and personal attacks in the first place.

No less that Malaysian’s mudah lupa, Don’t we remember how they ostracized Dr Mahathir when Anwar was sacked. All kind of accusations were made up without any shred of evidence. Some of It includes that he has a Chinese wife, another wife in Singapore, Israeli Bank Accounts and many more.

And even in the recent past, who were accusing Najib and Rosmah of murder. Have they forgot that a little napoleon MP from Pakatan Rakyat super-imposed Najib Image seen to be seated along side Altantuya. What was that then? Was he punished for his misdeeds? No..

Name calling and personal attacks are a norm in Pakatan Speeches during ceramah. Even the ones I attended recently were full of nasty name calling and personal attacks. That was just during a normal “Selamatkan Pakatan Rakyat” (actually it was ‘Selamatkan Malaysia” road show. I remember the same happened in many of the ceramah during the last general elections.

It is just that Zaid is being accused of many un Islamic habits, Pakatan Rakyat supporters were put on defensive mode mainly because they are unable to defend him. They demand that campaign must be clean and ethical. Have they ever been ethical in the past ? and even present, where they have started publishing some other minister seen drinking in their blogs.

Even Zaid has started his personal attacks today, claiming that UMNO guys are avid gamblers, not sure if this includes him and his de facto leader, Anwar. Anwar on the other hand, is an expert in this, just that his fanatical supporters are blinded by his rhetoric to realise the difference between fair comments and personal attack.

Have Pakatan bloggers ever been ethical and polite in the past. I reckon that it is about time they reap what they sow. they started it all, and they started this way back in 1998. Some of the accusations were really ridiculous, mainly designed to fool the least educated Malays, condemn UMNO and inadvertently to boost opposition’s Islamic credentials.

Pakatan Rakyat is even fast losing their grip on the web. More and more BN friendly blogs have emerged and has become even more popular than hard core Pakatan Blogs, the statistics shows it all. Anwar even begged his facebook friends to bring in more members while his arch enemy, Dr Mahathir has far more facebook friends without making any effort or even being active on the political front.

People like me have become increasingly tired of all these lies propagated by Pakatan and BN to a certain extend that they are not likely to believe what they read and see all that are available in the internet. Although a large number of Pakatan Rakyat supporters still believe in lies propagated by their leaders and condone personal attacks on their enemies, rational thinking Malaysians, who are not necessarily BN supporters, are equally large in numbers out there.

They can see who are in the right or wrong and who the hypocrites are. In this current game of personal attacks, Pakatan Rakyat is clearly the world leader for decades while their fanatical supporters are the biggest hypocrites now.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Hulu Selangor : Vote Buying Endorsed By Pakatan Rakyat??

As expected, PM Najib and his cabinet members descended upon Hulu Selangor as soon as the pervious MP was laid to rest.

Although campaigning should not start until the nomination day, both BN and Pakatan has started lobbying hard for votes. Their understanding of campaigning rules is limited to not putting up posters and banners until the nomination day. Everything else is not forbidden.

BN leaders, who has to attend parliament and also other commitments managed to make frequent ad-hoc visits to Hulu Selangor. MB Khalid on the other hand, relocated his whole Exco team to Hulu Selangor in order to campaign and work at the same time. He is using Kuala Kubu Bahru district office as his own, so does his team members.

BN, with Najib’s visit, has, as expected, playing Santa Claus, throwing in the goodies for the local voters, with the announcement of a housing project for Felda Settlers. Not to be outdone, Selangor State government announced land grants in various forms (lease, TOL) etc for the local folks.

Not surprisingly, the Santa Clause appointed to dish out the goodies are based on their race, more than anything else, except for those with high position like PM Najib or MB Khalid. Despite the regular claims and utterances of ‘multi racial, ‘inclusiveness’, ‘Malaysian First’, both Pakatan And BN’s campaign strategy is very much based on race and nothing else.

PKR Indian Mandore (title given by Uthayakumar’s Hindraf ) Xavier Jeyakumar, has been busy. He is the most popular Indian PKR leader in the country. Not a day goes by without news reports of him dishing out grants for Tamil Schools and Temples around Selangor. Even MIC owned Tamil Nesan, which in recent months has been trying to revive it’s flagging circulation, provides regular coverage on Xavier's activities. Xavier, two days ago, presented mock cheques, few millions in value, to various schools and temples in Hulu Selangor. This received wide coverage in the Tamil Newspapers.

Hindraf had for many months dismissed Xavier’s tokenism and asks Pakatan to provide land for Tamil School and Temples. Strangely, Pakatan, despite State Governments power over land matters have not been doing this. A friend pointed out that what the Indians want is not only land but permanent annual grants, not piece meal handouts that is being dished out by Xavier.

A case to point is Johor State Government providing the state Hindu Sangam a land for their office and RM 200,000 grant for next 7 years. With these, there is no need to beg the state government every year.

Samy Vellu & Palanivel, on the other hand has been going to similar places visited by his Pakatan Counterparts, often ridiculed and shouted at. There was also a local man almost beaten up by MIC members for questioning Samy openly during a gathering at Sg Choh last week. A temple there even refused Samy’s pledge for funds, saying that they have been taken care by PKR.

Indians here claims, at least from what I hear from an influential local PKR leader in Serendah, that local leaders are being enticed by both PKR and BN with money, promises of grants, contracts, lands etc. He says that PKR is of no short of funds for the campaign. When asked for the source of funds, he says both State Government and PKR has ‘enough’ funds to run a campaign in equal measure with BN, although we all know that they cannot match BN’s federal government promises on projects.

The consensus amongst Indians here, apart from some hard core party loyalist from both sides, take whatever that is being dished out, no matter who is giving them but vote for who you like. Sounds like a good idea.

Before the last general elections, Pakatan Rakyat cried foul over massive indirect vote buying by BN. I am astounded that MB Khalid openly says that he wants and is doing exactly the same. No one from other Pakatan component parties denounced such indirect vote buying practices. Such hypocrisy!! Another case of Malaysians muda lupa..

I am quite bewildered with the silence from the Election Commission. After the announcement of the nomination and by-election date, there has been a complete silence from them. Why aren’t they chastising both BN and Pakatan over early campaigning and indirect vote buying?

Whatever happened to Coalition for Free and Fair Elections (BERSIH) Why don’t they take to the streets condemning the vote buying by both sides. Why also a silence from all those ‘credible’ NGOs such as Aliran, Suaram and like minded BN critics and bloggers?

Why Lim Kit Siang did not post an article in his blog with a kilometer long title ‘ SPR SHOULD REQUEST THE KING TO FORM ROYAL COMMISSION OF ENQUIRY TO INVESTIGATE MASSIVE VOTE BUYING ACTIVITY IN HULU SELANGOR BY BOTH BARISAN NASIONAL AND PAKATAN RAKYAT’ Kit Siang or rather Anwar (who is an expert now in writing to the King) should write to the King on this or might as well admit that he is such a hypocrite, unlike MB Khalid whose honesty deserved either praise or condemnation, depending on which side your are aligned to.

Perhaps, Pakatan’s candidate, Zaid Ibrahim should explain if the vote buying before even the nomination day is a common policy adopted by Pakatan Rakyat!! As for the Hulu Selangor residents, it cannot be a better time to celebrate and enjoy the goodies and still vote for whom they like.

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..