Teluk Intan – The DAP’s gamble in fielding Malay candidate Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud for the Teluk Intan parliamentary by-election is seen as not having dented the support of Malay voters for BN candidate Datuk Mah Siew Keong.
DAP, however, is bent on winning the seat again, based on full support from Chinese and Indian voters as well as those from its core Malay supporters.
Political analyst Sivamurugan Pandian said the core of DAP campaigning strategy could possibly result in no changes to the voting patterns of Malays tomorrow.
“I believe Malay voters are still with BN though the DAP has fielded a Malay candidate.
“I do not expect to see much change from the Malay voting pattern in the 13th General Election when 70% of Malay votes went to the BN.”
In fact, Siva agreed with the view that DAP was just “testing the waters” by fielding a Malay candidate in a Chinese-majority constituency, although both candidates had their pluses and minuses.
“Would Malay voters accept a Malay DAP candidate?
“Both candidates have their strengths and weaknesses. Mah is a local and has a track record.
“Dyana is an outsider with an educated background, seen as capable of appealing to young voters. The Malay voters will have to make a choice.”
He concluded the contest still sided with DAP as it had won the last two contests there.
“I believe the decision will be very narrow, with only 1% or 2% difference between the two parties.”
That view was echoed by Teluk Intan Umno chief Datuk Mohd Azhar Jamaluddin, who said Malay voters, who voted for BN in the 13th General Election, will stay with the BN.
“This is because since the Changkat Jong constituency was controlled by Umno, Malay votes have remained as its Community Service Centre in the town had been able to solve some major problems faced by residents.
“Many have come to seek help and assistance. Among the major problems overcome are dealings with government agencies, financial aid and others.
“So our role was to reduce any difficulties they might face and hasten application processes for the people,” he told The Rakyat Post.
Azhar did not deny Malay voters’ attraction towards the DAP candidate, but believed they were mature enough to choose the person capable of representing them in Parliament.
“We must be smart when choosing candidates. The federal government is run by the BN, just like the state government.
“Administrative matters will be made easier if our candidate (Mah) makes it to Parliament. Residents here will definitely benefit in terms of development.”
Azhar, who saw each candidate with an equal chance, was inclined to convince PAS members, who were fence-sitters, to vote for the BN.
“We estimate 1,000 PAS members are confused to whom to choose. If they were to choose Dyana Sofya, they will be seen as partners in DAP policies, which are in direct contrast to Islamic policies championed by PAS.”
Last minute observations in the town showed many who worked outside Teluk Intan beginning to return to cast their votes tomorrow.
Finance executive Nur Fadillah Yusof, 26, said her vote was secret, but expressed her desire to see Teluk Intan develop like other towns.
She also expressed sadness at the decrease in the number of Malays compared with 10 years ago.
“I support development because it will bring economic impact to the people here.
“But sadly, I see that the number of Malays in the town has decreased from the days I was living and going to school here.
“There were many Malay restaurants then, but now it is tough to find a place to eat. We have to go to villages to find places to eat.”
That concern was also expressed by local resident Ibrahim Hassan, 45, who said Malays must unite for the sake of the community in Teluk Intan.
“I hope we can evaluate a candidate for his contributions and leadership. The most important thing is that he must be a local.”