Politics

Not an easy choice for Teluk Intan; some may split votes

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TELUK INTAN – April 17, 2018: IT’S going to be yet another front-on clash between two predominantly Chinese parties and this time the incumbent and Gerakan president Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong can expect another tough time.

On the other side is Perak DAP chairman Nga Kor Ming, without a doubt a big name in the state especially among the Chinese electorate, who has decided to abandon his Taiping Parliamentary constituency to unseat Mah, a familiar face in this western coastal town .

Mah, also the Minister of Plantation Industries and Commodities, first became Teluk Intan MP in 1999 before retaining the seat in 2004. But it came unstuck in the general elections in 2008 and again in 2013 but he regained it in a by-election in 2014. 

Mah’s finest achievement in terms of voter percentage was during his first election in 1995 when contesting the Pasir Bedemar state seat to receive 56.07 per cent of the votes. Pasir Bedemar is one of the two state seats in Teluk Intan, the other being Changkat Jong.

The by-election which re-elected Mah was called following the death of Seah Leong Peng of the DAP who bested Mah in 2013. It was also here that the DAP tested the waters by putting up a Malay and a novice at that but despite this, Mah beat Dyana Sofea Mohd. Daud by just 0.6 per cent the votes or 238.

On the other hand, it has been plain sailing for Nga since his debut in 1999, thereafter winning five straight ones. His best performance was in 2013 when he netted 62.32 per cent of the votes to win the Kepayang state seat.

It is against the backdrop of the slim majority by Mah in the by-election that DAP secretary-general Lim Kit Siang expressed confidence that Nga will be able to beat Mah.

“If he (Nga) wins, we will make him a Cabinet minister so that he can do do more for Teluk Intan,” said Lim at Pakatan Harapan ceramah here last night.

While Lim’s expression of confidence was nothing unusual, people talked to admit that it’s going to be a tough call for them.

“Mah has pulling out all the stops in servicing the constituents. Most of my friends who were pro-opposition have grown rather fond of him but the people however are still upset with the GST (Goods and Services Tax),” said party worker Lau Yoke Boon.

The three other party workers in the Teluk Intan DAP office nodded in agreement, with one pointing out that Mah has made it a point to visit his constituents at least once a week.

Another party worker who wanted to remain anonymous said that in Mah’s latest four-year stint as MP, he has delivered three key developments that he had promised during the by-election.

These were the first phase of the Teluk Intan embankment, the setting-up of the Sultan Idris Education University and the construction of an exit from the West Coast Expressway which directly links to this town.

“Actually, the embankment was not his idea,” the DAP party worker pointed out. “It was Fadzlan Yahya’s (former Pasir Bedamar DAP assemblyman who won the seat in 1986). Back then, the state didn’t have the money to do it. Mah is taking Fadzlan’s credit.”

The need for an embankment along the Perak river stretch that runs through Teluk Intan has always been a major concern among locals as continuous soil erosion not only causes flash floods but can also cut off the bay from the mainland.

“The people here have started to see that this quiet town is starting to grow and they like it. Many still dislike BN but they cannot deny that the easiest way to see progress is to vote for Mah,” said Kee Choon Keong, a resident.

Kee, a 57-year-old retired clerk of the State Assembly, added that most voters are torn between seeing a Pakatan Harapan federal government and a more modern Teluk Intan.

When the matter was brought to his attention, Mah’s political secretary Ivanpal Singh Grewal flashed a smile before pointing out that such a dilemma was due to Teluk Intan BN’s politics of substance.

Koay Tiok Hua, was among the thousands who were riled up at the rally but when asked about Mah, the 62-year-old boat builder spoke glowingly.

Like many of his friends, Koay is mulling to cast a split vote.

“My wife came up with a good compromise. We’ll vote DAP for Pasir Bedemar and we’ll vote Mah for Teluk Intan,” quipped Koay.

Today Mah issued a statement to warn the DAP candidate not to allow the elections to spoil the harmony in the area.

“I hope their presence will not divide and disrupt the harmony.

“This is not going to be an easy fight but we will work hard in a short period of time to secure the seat.”

Nga and Mah’s electoral report card

Nga Kor Ming

Mah Siew Keong

Victories

State seats

1999 – Pantai Remis

o   Votes: 9,896 (55.86 per cent)

o   Majority: 2,447

1995 – Pasir Bedamar

o   Votes: 10,586 (56.07 per cent)

o   Majority: 3,172

2004 – Pantai Remis

o   Votes: 9,703 (55.02 per cent)

o   Majority: 2,303

 

2008 – Pantai Remis

o   Votes: 12,188 (61.83 per cent)

o   Majority: 5,076

2013 – Kepayang

o   Votes: 10,948 (62.32 per cent)

o   Majority: 4,604

Parliamentary seats

2008 – Taiping

o   Votes: 28,098 (59.63 per cent)

o   Majority: 11,298

1999 – Teluk Intan

o   Votes: 18,576 (54.05 per cent)

o   Majority: 2,783

2013 – Taiping

o   Votes: 32,275 (58.32 per cent)

o   Majority: 11,745

2004 – Teluk Intan

o   Votes: 18,870 (55.78 per cent)

o   Majority: 10,041

 

2014 – Teluk Intan

o   Votes: 20,157 (50.30 per cent)

o   Majority: 238

Losses

None

 

2008 – Teluk Intan

o   Votes: 17,016 (47.93 per cent)

o   Majority: 1,470

2013 – Teluk Intan

o   Votes: 20,086 (42.06 per cent)

o   Majority: 7,313

 

2014 by-election

Party

Candidate

Votes

Barisan Nasional

Mah Siew Keong

20,157 (50.30 per cent)

DAP

Dyana Sofya Mohd. Daud

19,919 (49.70 per cent)

Majority

238

Registered voters

60,349

Turnout

67 per cent

Racial make-up: Malay: 41 per cent; Chinese: 40 per cent; Indians: 19 per cent

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Zaidi Azmi and Ahirul Ahirudin