Politics

Fielding MCA in Tanjung Piai may re-amplify BN’s multiracial image

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Zaidi Azmi
Written by Zaidi Azmi

Since the constituency was formed in 2003, the MCA had never lost its hold on the Tanjung Piai parliamentary seat — until last year’s May 9 national poll — when two-term representative Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng lost to Pakatan Harapan’s Datuk Dr. Md. Farid Md. Rafik of Pribumi Bersatu.

There will soon a by-election following the death of Farid recently but whether Barisan Nasional will once again field an MCA candidate is unclear at the moment.


KUALA LUMPUR — September 24, 2019: While a loss in a by-election in Tanjung Piai will not topple Pakatan Harapan, it can however help re-amplify BN’s multiracial image which has been perceived to be diluted recently.

Thus there is this view that BN needs to again allow the MCA take the lead.

One person with this view is Dr. Azmi Hasan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia who described the by-election as a great opportunity for BN to dispel the racially-charged negative perception arising from the recently forged Umno-PAS accord.

“It’s true that MCA’s clout among the Chinese now is, at best, very minimum but fielding an MCA candidate is not about fishing for Chinese votes but to show critics that Umno and PAS supporters will still vote for non-Malay candidates.

The Tanjung Piai parliamentary constituency was created by a delineation exercise in 2003. Prior to this it used to be a part of the Pontian constituency. It was first contested in the 2004 general elections.

In its first bout, then MCA president Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting bested DAP’s Tan Hang Meng with a majority of 28,046 which was a feat that had laid the foundation for MCA’s grip on the seat that even weathered the so-called Chinese tsunami in 2013.  

Azmi and Dr. Kamarul Zaman Yusoff from Universiti Utara Malaysia, however, believe that despite the merits of fielding an MCA candidate, it does not mean that BN is ignoring any help from PAS.

Kamarul Zaman argued that although PAS never had much clout in Johor, the Islamist party did manage to spoil BN’s chances there last year, when the party garnered 2,962 votes that could have gone to BN in a one-to-one contest.

“Putting Wee again may enable BN to gain some Chinese votes due to his personal appeal and influence, and due to dissatisfaction among them with the performance of Pakatan.

“But at the same time it may alienate some Malay Muslim voters who may distance themselves from him due to his past critical stance on Malay-Muslim issues,” said Kamarul Zaman.

Wee had in 2011 drawn the flack from some Muslims after he publicly chastised the PAS-led Kelantan government’s decision to outlaw all forms of gambling.

Both Kamarul Zaman and Azmi also pointed out that BN will need to tread carefully if it sticks with MCA as even a slight misstep may backfire and swing the Malays there into supporting Pakatan, especially since Pribumi Bersatu has hinted that it intends to defend Tanjung Piai at all cost.

The duo deemed that such a swing is possible given the growing pro-Malay sentiment that has been manifesting against the backdrop of Pakatan’s contentious policies that have upset especially the Malays.

However, past results in Tanjung Piai suggest otherwise. Despite Tanjung Piai having more Malay electorates, at about 57 per cent, MCA has always managed to win there before last year’s election, even when DAP fielded a Malay candidate.

Tanjung Piai’s past election results

2004 General Election

Party

Candidate

Votes

Percentage

BN (MCA)

Ong Ka Ting

28,046

62.9

DAP

Tan Hang Meng

4,431

9.9

2008 General Election

BN (MCA)

Wee Jeck Seng

23,302

50.9

DAP

Ahmad Ton

10,931

23.9

2013 General Election

BN (MCA)

Wee Jeck Seng

25,038

48.2

DAP

Mahdzir Ibrahim

19,581

37.7

2018 General Election

BN (MCA)

Wee Jeck Seng

21,255

38.7

PH (Pribumi Bersatu)

Md Farid Md Rafik

20,731

39.7

Pas

Nordin Othman

2,962

5.5

Electorates: Malay: 57 per cent; Chinese 42 per cent; Indian: 1 per cent

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About the author

Zaidi Azmi

Zaidi Azmi

If Zaidi Azmi isn’t busy finding his way in the city, this 26-year-old northern kampung boy can be found struggling to make sense of the Malaysian political scene. Zaidi can be reached at zaidiazmi91@gmail.com.