Politics

DAP’s so-called trump card may instead be a whitewash in Ayer Hitam

The PKR  flags in Parit Bingan.

The PKR flags in Parit Bingan.

AYER HITAM – MAY 2, 2018: Given the demographics and past results, the decision by the Johor DAP to put up its head Liew Chin Tong to contest the Ayer Hitam parliamentary seat in the May 9 polls has surprised many and looks like a suicidal mission.

Apart from being a predominantly Malay constituency, Ayer Hitam is a strong base for the MCA’s Datuk Seri Dr. Wee Ka Siong, the party’s deputy president.

Liew is also the first from DAP to contest in Ayer Hitam in the 21st century. In the 1982 elections DAP lost by 15,652 votes. Ayer Hitam houses some of the staunchest Umno supporters, particularly those in Parit Bingan, Parit Semerang and Parit Jambi.

Ayer Hitam parliamentary constituency results

(Seat racial breakdown Malay: 58 per cent; Chinese: 38 per cent; Indians: four per cent)

Party

Candidate

Votes

Percentage

GE 1974 – BN won uncontested

BN

Hee Tien Lai

Nil

 Nil

1978 – BN won by 18,189 votes

BN

Hee Tien Lai

20,885

88.68 per cent

PAS

Jaini Salleh

2,666

11.32 per cent

1982 – BN won by 15,652 votes

BN

Hee Tien Lai

21,737

78.13 per cent

DAP

Chan Yeik Nong

6,085

21.87 per cent

Constituency was abolished and re-created in 2004

2004 – BN won by 15,763 votes

BN

Wee Ka Siong

20,065

82.34 per cent

PAS

Mohd. Zamri Md. Taksis

4,302

17.66 per cent

2008 – BN won by 13,909 votes

BN

Wee Ka Siong

20,230

76.19 per cent

PAS

Husin Sujak

6,321

23.81 per cent

2013 – BN won by 7,310 majority

BN

Wee Ka Siong

22,045

59.94 per cent

PAS

Hu Pang Chaw

14,735

40.06 per cent

And the countless BN’s dark blue flags decorating the latter two parit seem to suggest that the coalition still maintains a strong influence in Ayer Hitam despite seeing less votes for it in the last three general elections.

But a party worker from Liew’s office claims that the Pakatan Harapan opposition pact has managed to make inroads in several Malay-majority areas, particularly in Parit Bingan.

He sees this as being achieved through the hard work of the Pakatan candidate for Semarang , Zais Mohd. Akil, who he described as Liew’s trump card in wooing support among the Malays. Semarang is one of the state constituencies in Ayer Hitam.

The sight of PKR flags hoisted along the entrance of several houses in Parit Bingan lends credence to the party worker’s observation.

“People often thinks that all Malays here are Umno totoks (hardcore supporters of Umno) but that’s not true. Only 10 per cent of them are totoks," said Zais.

“People often thinks that all Malays here are Umno totok (hardcore supporters of Umno) but that’s not true. Only 10 per cent of them are totoks,” said Zais.

“Almost 80 per cent of the Malays here gave me a warm welcome,” said Zais.

“People often think that all Malays here are Umno totok (hardcore supporters of Umno) but that’s not true. Only 10 per cent are like that,” he added.

Zais, who is a Pribumi Bersatu member, however said was that such a good reception would have been very different if he brought Liew along with him in his walkabout in those Malay villages in Ayer Hitam.

“They may be accommodating to me but I can sense that bringing someone from DAP would definitely be counter-productive for Pakatan, which is why it was a blessing for all of us to contest under the PKR flag,” he said.

While pointing out that the locals have no personal dissatisfaction against their current elected representatives, Zais said they nonetheless feel that Wee and incumbent Semarang assemblyman Datuk Samsol Bari Jamali have overstayed their welcome.

“The two have been in power for 15 years and they say that Samsol isn’t as energetic and enthusiastic as before.

“Some complained to me that Samsol moves like he is in a constant slow-motion movie scene,” said the 67-year-old who was the former Johor Bahru Umno Youth division chief in 1985.

If he wins against Samsol, Zais has a number of exciting plans, with one of them being to flood the rivers here with tons of fertilised catfish eggs.

“It may sound dumb to city folks but the locals were ecstatic when I told them about it. They understand that once the fishes mature they can catch these fishes for free.

“Although I cannot precisely gauge my level of support, the fact that the PKR flags in several of the parit I have visited still flutter until today is a good indicator of the locals’ acceptance of Pakatan,” he said.

However, when told of what Zais had said, several villagers who were chatting at an eatery in Parit Bingan broke into a fit of laughter.

“The flags are there because some of the locals were paid to put it up. That is all there is to it,” said one.

“Also, we’re not dumb. It’s an offence to vandalise campaign materials during campaigning week,” added another member while the rest nodded.

“You should have come here before the campaign week started and see how some of us threw Ching Tong’s (Liew) banners into the river.”

Despite that, the villagers admitted that Pakatan has indeed made some inroads even though its influence is still lagging behind  BN’s.

“Datuk Samsol and Datuk Wee have done a lot for Ayer Hitam in the last 15 years. There is no compelling reason why we should change them,” said a vocal member of the group who wanted to be identified only as Din.

“I have lived through three prime ministers and this is the only prime minister who literally gives money directly to us. Now why would I want to change that?” Din added.

One of the river in which Zais said he wanted to pour tons of fertilised catfish eggs in.

One of the river in which Zais said he wanted to pour tons of fertilised catfish eggs in.

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Zaidi Azmi and Ahirul Ahirudin