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by Lim Guan Eng
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday): If DAP had achieved the "Mission Impossible" of winning the Machap by-election on 12 April 2007, then Malaysians can look forward to a change of government in the next general elections. So strong a BN fortress is Machap that DAP obtained 18% of the valid votes cast in 2004 general elections with BN securing a majority of 4,562 votes. Should DAP win Machap, this would require a massive swing of more than 16% amongst Malay, Chinese and Indian voters.
On 12 April 2007 DAP secured 1,452 votes or 20.8% of the valid votes cast, an increase of 2.8% as compared to 2004 general elections. As DAP did not improve our votes amongst Malays and Indian voters, the extra 167 votes came from Chinese voters and managing to reduce BN's majority by 481 votes. This translated to an estimated 5% swing of Chinese voters to the DAP.
DAP's performance in Machap can be encapsulated in these vignettes of incidents during the Machap by-election:
a) Malay voters shunned opposition parties, to the extent that even PKR members/supporters hosting an event for PKR President Datuk Seri Wan Azizah in Melaka Pindah "betrayed" her by refusing to allow her to use the venue when she personally turned up for the event on 10 April 2007. PKR Advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim repeatedly highlighted this unprecedented personal snub to the PKR President in ceramahs on 11 April 2007 as an indication of the culture of fear, intimidation, gross abuse of government machinery and money perpetrated by BN;
b) Indian voters were very receptive when DAP and PKR leaders led by me and Datuk Nallakaruppan went house-to-house campaigning in the Indian estates. Indian voters even attended our ceramahs in large numbers. However once MIC President Datuk S. Samy Vellu made house-to-house visits, the entire mood changed. So influential was their "Indian god Samy" that Indian voters who were very warm and receptive earlier refused to even return greetings on polling day;
c) On the other hand, the Chinese voters' response was warm and genuine. Some Machap Baru villagers sporting BN T-shirts even took drinks repeatedly from the MCA stalls to me and other DAP members manning the SRJKŠ Machap Baru polling centre.
The 5% swing of Chinese voters in a BN and MCA stronghold like Machap offers hope of denying BN a repeat of their historic 91% victory of Parliamentary seats in the 2004 general elections. Even though this 5% swing in Chinese vote in a BN stronghold did not match the much larger swing in Sarawak state elections, there is a possibility of a better performance in the urban centres.
Not normal for BN's majority to be reduced in a by-election
For the Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to say that the reduced BN majority in the Machap by-election is normal is a poor attempt to hide the failure of BN to secure a bigger majority. It is not normal for BN to have its majority reduced in by-elections. It is only normal that BN wins by a bigger majority in by-elections as can be seen by BN winning Pengkalan Pasir from PAS.
DAP achieved a moral victory by being the first opposition party since the 2004 general elections to reduce BN's majority in a by-election. With all the advantages of tens of millions of ringgit in development projects, fear and intimidation dirty tactics as well as the entire machinery of the Malaysian government fighting the opposition, BN had always increased its majority as can be seen below:-
Whilst some had criticized DAP's selection of its candidate as not substantial enough, Sdr Liou Chen Kuang was suitable for Machap as he was known by the voters. Whatever his shortcomings, Liou was indisputably a better candidate in age and capability than BN's Lai, who could hardly speak good Bahasa Malaysia. DAP admits there were some weaknesses in the organization of the electoral campaign but they were overcome by the energy and dedication of party workers. For the first time, a group of young untested and inexperienced leaders were involved in strategizing the campaign. This augurs well for the party's effort to build up the first level of leaders in the coming general elections..
DAP has received many calls and messages congratulating us on our success in reducing BN's majority but also spreading our theme of the importance of democracy. In that respect Machap is no different from the rest of Malaysian by wanting the government to listen to the people and not just the people listening to the BN leaders. Until the nest general elections, DAP will play a monitoring role in Machap to ensure that BN fulfils all promises particularly development projects.
* Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General of DAP