Johor DAP chief Dr Boo Cheng Hau recently revealed that Pakatan is to field Indian candidates in Chinese majority areas.
This is a good tactical move.
DAP is already unassailable among the Chinese thanks to the rock solid support from the Chinese media. (The pro-opposition bias of the Chinese language press was detected through a study on media content conducted by Dr Chang Peng Kee together with Prof. Syed Arabi Idid and published in the Asian Social Science journal.)
Efforts by the media, including The Star, to shape public opinion in favour of the DAP 2.0 has been so thorough that pundits are presently saying that even if the party were to put up an unknown greenhorn, this candidate is still sure to win.
As one example, practically anyone that the DAP might nominate to contest the Ipoh Timur seat vacated by Lim Kit Siang is assured of winning.
Hence there is persuasive reason to believe that the strategy to bank on Indian votes, as mentioned by Dr Boo, is one that’s likely to succeed.
Below is a look at the Teluk Intan 2008 model — a Perak mixed constituency which has a 20 percent Indian electorate.
Chinese vote Chinese
But before we delve into the Teluk Intan results of the last general election, it is interesting to note that DAP’s Charles Santiago scored a convincing victory in Klang which has an ethnic breakdown of 33.5% Malay, 47.1% Chinese and 18.6% Indian. Santiago prevailed over the Selangor MCA chairman Datuk Ch’ng Toh Eng no less.
MCA was saved from being wiped out in 2008 due to – among other reasons – the following two factors: (a) The Umno vote bank, and (b) obtaining Chinese votes in cases when the Pakatan opponent was a non-Chinese.
It must be noted too that whenever MCA contested in any Chinese-majority urban area against a DAP Chinese, the MCA man is almost guaranteed to lose.
This pattern of MCA getting the Chinese votes only if and when the DAP (or PKR) candidate was a non-Chinese is indicated in the Bentong results [updated 10.45am].
How DAP won Teluk Intan
The Teluk Intan Parliamentary constituency comprises two state seats — Pasir Bedamar and Changkat Jong. All three were swept by the opposition.
TELUK INTAN PARLIAMENTARY CONSTITUENCY:
MCAGerakan Chinese vs DAP Indian MCA’s Gerakan’s Datuk Mah Siew Keong received 17,016 votes
DAP’s M. Manogaran received 18,486 votes
STATE SEATS IN TELUK INTAN:
MCAPPP Chinese vs DAP Chinese
- Umno Malay vs PAS Malay
On the BN side of the fence,
MCA’s PPP’s candidate in Pasir Bedamar obtained 5,741 votes and Umno’s candidate in Changkat Jong, 7,806 votes. Added together, both the BN men got a total of 13,547 votes.
On the Pakatan side, the DAP man in Pasir Bedamar obtained 13,655 votes and the PAS man in Changkat Jong, 8,705 votes. Added together the opposition obtained 22,360 votes.
At the DUN level, Pakatan (DAP+PAS) in tandem collected 22,360 votes.
However, at Parliament level, the DAP Indian received 18,486 votes. There is a shortfall of 3,874 votes. Meaning the 3,874 voters, who had backed the Malay PAS candidate and the Chinese DAP candidate at state level, failed to support the DAP Indian candidate for Parliament.
The DAP Chinese man won his DUN seat with a thumping majority of 7,914 whereas the PAS man had a majority of 899. The huge contrast between their margins of victory reflected the confirmed trend of a huge Chinese vote swing compared to the slight shift in the Malay electorate.
Let’s do the math in reverse to double check.
At the DUN level, the BN (
MCA PPP+Umno) pair collected 13,547 votes.
However, at Parliament level,
MCAGerakan’s losing candidate Datuk Mah obtained 17,016 votes.
Meaning, BN got 3,469 more votes at Parliament level than it did at state level.
So it’s like this
The 3,874 voters who backed the Malay PAS candidate and the Chinese DAP candidate at state level were unwilling to endorse the DAP Indian candidate at Parliament level.
Conversely we also know that 3,469 of those people who rejected DAP’s Mano had instead voted for
MCAGerakan’s Datuk Mah to be in Parliament.
What is to account for the difference of the roughly 3,500 votes between state and Parliament?
Here is where the race dynamics come into play. DAP’s Seah Leong Peng had a broader appeal for the voters than MCA’s Lee Heng, as proven by the former’s huge majority.
MCAGerakan’s Datuk Mah remained more appealing to them (the same subset of voters) than did DAP’s Manogaran.
A parallel situation had occurred in Pandan and Bentong. In the two constituencies, the MCA men beat a PKR Malay and a PKR Indian respectively. PKR is without doubt nowhere as popular with the Chinese as is DAP.
2013 will be different from 2008
The general trend in 2008 showed that some Chinese voted along racial lines although some Chinese managed to cross the ethnic barrier.
And herein lies the irony. In 2008, MCA managed to retain its seats in nine Malay majority areas due to Umno’s ability to persuade its followers to pangkah dacing.
In GE13, loyalty to the BN brand among the Malays is expected to be diluted somewhat. Confronted with the choice between an MCA man and a Malay opposition, they might opt for the PKR or PAS rival.
On the other hand with the Chinese voters, the trend has moved in the opposite direction. We’ve seen how even in 2008, the DAP’s M. Manogaran managed to take Teluk Intan (43.8% Chinese, 36.2% Malay) albeit narrowly.
Now if in GE12 the DAP Indian could already garner a commendable portion of Chinese support – the 3,500-odd conservative holdouts notwithstanding – then five years down the road, a Teluk Intan-like advantage will be much easier for the DAP to replicate in GE13.
This development is a testament to the DAP’s efficiency. This time around, the party is aided by an ample war chest … don’t forget that today DAP has corporate financiers which they did not have during previous elections.
DAP is super duper efficient because it has thoroughly brainwashed the Chinese within a mere five years to vote PAS candidates if need be, whereas the lifeline thrown to MCA by the Malays in 2008 was the culmination of 50 years of slow and steady Umno indoctrination.
All of which brings us today to Johor.
Size of Indians in MCA wards
Seven out of the MCA’s 15 seats contain a sizeable Indian electorate numbering above 10 percent. Assuming for a moment the status quo is retained on the seat quota, then those seats where MCA will be going head to head with the DAP are Alor Gajah, Gelang Patah, Labis and Kampar.
The strategy to place Indian candidates in Chinese majority areas was announced by the Johor DAP chairman. In his state, it will be feasible to apply this strategy in Labis. (Which is not to say that the other state DAP chairmen might not be adopting the same tactic as well.)
DAP optimistic on Labis
Labis is a 47.8 percent Chinese majority seat. Indians comprise 15.5 percent – a significant figure.
Should DAP put up an Indian candidate, he will get the Indians votes. The Chinese votes, needless to say, are already in his pocket.
The ABU current is so strong that Chinese electors, one daresay, are even willing to cast their ballots for an inanimate object as long as it wears a Rocket badge. In GE13, the Chinese Ubah-Ubah-Ubah voters will be looking at the party and not the individual.
Whatever Chua Tee Yong’s personal merits, the Labis incumbent would most probably succumb to the Johor Dominoes Theory as predicted by DAP election strategist Liew Chin Tong.
What I’ve touched on here is nothing groundbreaking and nor does it require any great stretch the imagination. After all, the DAP has already figured it all out and that’s why Dr Boo made his announcement.
GE13 will see the MCA become the biggest casualty of our country’s realpolitik race politics.