By Md Izwan
The next general election is expected to be the closest fight to form the new Malaysian government. And several seats across the nation are likely to be heated battles with the slimmest of majorities. The Malaysian Insider takes a look at some of these hot seats in what will be an intense election for control of Malaysia.
KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 20 — Wangsa Maju is up for grabs between Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Umno and the MCA while Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is also working hard to keep the federal seat it won in Election 2008 through Wee Choo Keong, who quit two years ago to become an independent.
The MCA’s Datuk Yew Teong Lock is looking at running for the seat again but Wangsa Maju BN chairman Datuk Shafie Abdullah is said to be eyeing a chance to be the coalition’s candidate with help from pro-Umno bloggers.
“Yes, Datuk Shafie may contest there. After all, BN needs a new candidate there who is still fresh, not a candidate that is already aged,” a Wangsa Maju Umno Youth official told The Malaysian Insider on condition of anonymity.
Shafie has another advantage over Yew, as he is also political secretary to Finance Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, who is prime minister and BN chairman by virtue of being the Umno president.
Pro-Umno blogger Papagomo also weighed in on the race in a recent posting.
“Even more irritating (menjelekkan) is when Yew Teong Lock does not give his co-operation at all to the Wangsa Maju Umno division chief, Datuk Shafie Abdullah, in carrying out programmes for the people,” he blogged.
But Umno’s political foe PKR appeared to be moving aggressively, with the party campaigning every week in all the flats and markets in Wangsa Maju in a bid to shake off its image as a “frog” party.
In Election 2008, PKR won the federal seat against Yew with a razor-thin majority of 150 votes, but lost the seat two years later when Wee quit the party in 2010 over dissatisfaction with the issue of sand theft in Selangor.
“After Wee left, the party and machinery was very weak. That, I have to admit. We were quite desperate. Even Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim, who was elected as the division chief here, also left the party.
“Only this time Dr Tan Tee Kwong looks (like he’s) here to stay and (he has) already come down (for) almost two years to meet the residents here,” said Mohammad Hamdi Mohd Said, the Wangsa Maju Angkatan Muda Keadilan (AMK) chief.
Asked what had caused so many of PKR’s members to quit the party in Wangsa Maju, Hamdi said one of the reasons was that most of the candidates there are “parachute candidates”.
“Many jump out because they are ‘parachute’ candidates. Same as for Datuk Mohd Zaid Ibrahim who was previously the division chief here but later left the party,” Hamdi told The Malaysian Insider.
The Malay community forms the largest voting group in this constituency with 35,258 voters (53.28 per cent), followed by the Chinese at 24,000 (36.27 per cent) and Indians at 5,741 (8.68 per cent).
“Umno may be confident to place its candidate here seeing that the majority (of voters) is Malay, but they have to remember (for) Malays, the votes are split into three, which is (Umno), PKR and PAS. The Chinese especially, in urban areas like here, most (of them) support MCA and PR,” said Wangsa Maju PKR division vice-chief Ramzan Abd Ghaffur.
The largest group of voters in the constituency are those aged 30 to 49 years old at 45.68 per cent or 30,230, followed by those aged 50 to 69 years old at 31.66 per cent or 20,953.
Most stay in Wangsa Maju’s residential areas that largely consist of medium-cost flats and condominiums.
“Here the largest voting group is the young working adults and retirees.
“Those that retired are free and not tied to any parties, the retirees here can be said to be fence-sitters,” said 58-year-old retired soldier Khalil Senin, who has lived there for 20 years.
Like others, Khalil complained of the rising prices of goods since the announcement of the 2013 Budget, as well as the limited job opportunities where the younger generation is given priority by employers.
“Of course the government gives this and that aid, but that aid is not every month. Like BR1M, that too is because of elections,” Khalil added.