Batu Pahat likely pick for Soi Lek's comeback

  • Karpal memorial service non-political event, says DAP inviting Najib, Muhyiddin
    Karpal memorial service non-political event, says DAP inviting Najib, Muhyiddin

    DAP today extended an invitation to both the prime minister and his deputy to be guests of honour at a memorial service for the late Bukit Gelugor MP Karpal Singh tomorrow to prove that the event is non-political. Gelang Patah MP and party adviser Lim Kit Siang (pic) said the invitation has been extended to Datuk Seri Najib Razak and Tan Sri... …

  • Unidentified material washed ashore near Western Australia town, possible MH370 debris
    Unidentified material washed ashore near Western Australia town, possible MH370 debris

    Police in Western Australia have attended to a report of material washed ashore 10 kilometres east of Augusta and have secured the material, the Joint Agency Coordination Centre in charge of the search for Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 in the southern Indian Ocean said in a statement. The Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) is examining... …

  • Extremists have no place in Malaysian society, says Khairy – Bernama
    Extremists have no place in Malaysian society, says Khairy – Bernama

    Malaysia's Youth and Sports Minister Khairy Jamaluddin (pic) has denounced political and religious extremists in Malaysia, saying they did not belong "in our society". Addressing more than 800 Malaysian university students who had come from all parts of Australia to attend the Second Malaysian Summit of Australia (Masa) in Melbourne, he... …

  • Selangor MCA reveals receipts for 'illegal water sales'

    Selangor MCA has produced a quotation and receipts from a private water-tanker operator, purportedly revealing that he had sold water to the industrial community at prices up to 23 times more than what he had paid the water concessionaire. A document distributed to the media shows that the operator had bought water on March 4 from Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn. Bhd (Syabas) at RM2.07 per 1,000 litres, but was sold to industrial users at RM48.48. Selangor MCA information bureau deputy …

  • Cops will act if May 1 rally 'threatens public order'

    The police will act against the May 1 anti-GST rally if it is found to threaten public order, Kuala Lumpur Criminal Investigations Department (CID) deputy chief ACP Khairi Ahrasa said today. "So far, our actions are to ensure peace, but if there is a threat against public order, we will take action," he told a press conference at the Kuala Lumpur police headquarters. Asked whether the police have identified individuals who will be the main personalities behind the rally, like how they did for …

  • PKR forms panel to help students with yearly scholarship heartbreaks
    PKR forms panel to help students with yearly scholarship heartbreaks

    PETALING JAYA, April 23 -- Following the annual controversy over the allocation of federal scholarships, PKR today announced a special panel to help deserving secondary school leavers appeal... …

ANALYSIS Batu Pahat in Johor caught public attention last month when Information, Communications and Culture Minister Rais Yaim revealed that a survey by his ministry showed that this parliamentary constituency has been categorised as a 'black seat' for BN.

Three others  have also been similarly tagged in this southern state which has always prided itself as a BN stronghold - Kluang, Bakri and Gelang Patah.

Rais' statement also set tongues a'wagging that MCA president Dr Chua Soi Lek would be the BN's 'white knight' to defend Batu Pahat, the state's second largest town, and thereby opening door to his return to Parliament and the cabinet.

Born and educated in Batu Pahat, Chua served as a medical officer at its General Hospital and later opened a clinic there, before building up his political base in the town that is famous in Johor for its nasi briyani and asam pedas fish.

Not surprisingly, Chua is popular there. Most Batu Pahat folk will give the thumbs up when asked about the contributions of the four-term Penggaram assemblyperson and three-term Johor exco member - before they joke about his sex DVD that was secretly recorded in the town's top hotel in 2007.

Penggaram is one of the three state seats under the Batu Pahat parliamentary constituency. Chua enjoyed an over 10,000-vote majority in all his four electoral victories in Penggaram, before switching to the Labis parliamentary constituency in 2004.

But how did Batu Pahat, the birthplace of Umno, turn black for  the BN?

The current Batu Pahat MP is Puad Zarkashi ( right ) of Umno, who replaced Junaidy Abdul Wahab in the last election and was subsequently appointed deputy education minister by Prime Minister Najib Razak, despite Puad being a first-term MP.

Puad bagged a substantial majority of 12,704 votes in the 2008 polls but his performance was pale in comparison with his predecessor's majority of 29,102 at the 2004 general election.

The staggering plunge of over 16,000 votes is believed to be caused by the Chinese electorate, making up nearly half of the voters in the constituency.

Batu Pahat is a mixed constituency, with 53.1 percent Malay, 44.6 percent Chinese, and 1.8 percent Indian voters (2008 figures).

Penggaram, which covers the Batu Pahat town centre, is the state seat with highest number of Chinese voters - at 61.82 percent (latest figure).

According to local community leaders, Puad failed to garner the support of the Chinese because of the proposals he raised during his stint as Batu Pahat town councillor,said to be unfavourable to the Chinese community.

Growing anti-establishment sentiment

The anti-establishment sentiment among Johoreans, who for long have been staunch BN supporters, continued to mount after the last election, especially among the Chinese voters in urban areas such as Penggaram.

Pakatan Rakyat has since listed Johor as a frontline state for the coming general election battle and has deployed national leaders to bombard the state with almost daily ceramah, inviting aggressive counter-responses from parties in the ruling coalition, which at times turned ugly .

In Batu Pahat, opposition ceramah featuring top Pakatan leaders have drawn unprecedented crowds. The latest, in Batu Pahat's industrial zone of Sri Gading last Saturday by PKR de facto leader Anwar Ibrahim, drew a crowd of more than 2,000 people.

"Many of our family members and friends in Batu Pahat also see a big difference among the voters," said PKR Wanita central committee member Chua Yee Ling, who is from Batu Pahat.

Another factor encouraging Umno to hand its traditional seat to MCA in exchange for a safer seat is the popularity of Batu Pahat PKR division chief and central leadership council member Syed Hamid Ali, a younger brother of former PKR deputy president Syed Husin Ali.

Syed Hamid ( left ), who is popularly known in Batu Pahat as Pak Hamid, was a student leader in the late 1960s, before he escaped arrest and joined the Communist Party of Malaya (CPM) in the jungles.

He spent some years in exile before resettling in Malaysia in 1991 following the peace treaty between the government and CPM.

The 69-year-old veteran, whose wife is Chinese, is reportedly well received by the Chinese community.

He has been politically active in the constituency and is often seen with potential DAP and PAS election candidates in their door-to-door visits, portraying the image of a united opposition coalition, that is sorely lacking within local BN parties.

Although his leftist political background earns him the respect of members from his own party and other component parties, especially DAP, it may be a stumbling block if he tries to garner the support of the older Malay voters of Batu Pahat, the birthplace of right-wing nationalist party Umno, which was formed in 1946.

Chua formidable in hometown

However, many political observers believe, for various reasons, Chua would score an easy victory should he contest in Batu Pahat.

Among them are the formidable Batu Pahat MCA division, which has been helmed by him for more than 20 years, and his contributions to the town, especially the multi-million ringgit flood mitigation project implemented when he was a state exco member.

Also seen as very important is that his candidacy will help win back the ebbing support of the Chinese voters, the Achilles' heel of Umno.

The impact of Chua's sex DVD scandal on Malay voters is considered minimal in the constituency where Umno commands a strong election machinery and where the majority of the Malay voters are proud and thankful to the party.

In return, Puad may move to Ayer Hitam, the adjacent parliamentary constituency held by deputy education minister and MCA Youth chief Wee Ka Siong ( left ), who won with a respectable majority of 13,909 votes in the last general election.

The local Umno division has been lobbying to contest this more rural constituency as it has more Malay voters at 55.5 percent, while Chinese voters make up 40 percent (2008 figures). Puad will undoubtedly enjoy a better chance in Ayer Hitam.

According to an MCA insider, Wee, an outspoken and articulate youth leader who is well known among the Chinese voters, may be deployed to defend 'tougher to win' MCA constituencies such as Kulai or Tebrau.

Wee is Johor Baru MCA division chief and part of the state capital falls under Tebrau, the parliamentary seat held by another party leader, Teng Boon Soon, who has announced his intention to step down when his current term ends.

"If Wee is defeated, it may be good for Chua because his son, Tee Yong, will have one fewer competitor in the party echelon," said the party insider.

Tee Yong ( right ) was elected to Parliament in 2008, taking over his father's Labis seat, and was recommended by his father to be made deputy agriculture and agro-based industries minister when Najib reshuffled the cabinet in June 2009.

Both Tee Yong and Wee are seen as rising stars in the MCA.

However, Najib may not be too keen to field both father and son as parliamentary candidates, for he may have to appoint both of them as minister and deputy minister, if many of the MCA candidates fail to survive the next election.

"Umno always says PKR is a family party, Najib cannot do the same in his own cabinet," said an MCA observer.

Follow @YahooMalaysia on LINE for daily news updates.

Comments on Yahoo pages are subject to our link to Comments Guidelines. You are responsible for any content that you post. Yahoo is not responsible or liable in any way for comments posted by its users. Yahoo does not in any way endorse or support comments made by its users.

  • MH370 passenger’s partner tells of strange email from sacked Fox officer The Malaysian Insider
    MH370 passenger’s partner tells of strange email from sacked Fox officer

    The partner of an American passenger aboard the missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 has spoken about how a Fox executive who was recently sacked by the news station had contacted her offering to raise funds on her behalf. Sarah Bajc, whose partner Philip Wood is among the 239 people on board the missing plane, told the Sydney Morning Herald... …

  • Dr Ling’s son chose wine over woman, court hears The Malaysian Insider
    Dr Ling’s son chose wine over woman, court hears

    The son of former MCA president Tun Dr Ling Liong Sik today reached an out of court settlement with his ex-girlfriend in a breach of contract suit over seven properties registered under their joint names. Ling Hee Leong and businesswoman Teh Chee Yen agreed to settle out of court after he took the stand briefly and testified that he had chosen... …

  • MB: Only 29 days of water left in Selangor Malaysiakini

    Although heavy rain led to flash floods in parts of the Klang Valley yesterday, the Selangor government has said that taps will run completely dry in 29 days if rationing is not continued. "For now, we must continue with rationing as the level at the main dam, the Sungai Selangor dam, is below the critical level and can only last 29 days if rationing is not conducted," Menteri Besar Abdul Khalid Ibrahim said in a statement.   "We really hope the rakyat understands this situation and supports …