Let me stir the spoon a bit as it won’t make diddly squat difference to the election campaigning – Ijok voters would have already made up their minds, apart from the reality that few (perhaps not even one) read my blog.
malaysiakini reported that on Friday night, PKR held a dinner in support of the PKR candidate. The PKR-hosted event at a Chinese restaurant attracted more than 200 people who showed up after the party handed out dinner coupons during their house-to-house visits earlier in the day.
Two observations here!
One – would the handing out of dinner coupons to a PKR free dinner in a by-election constituency [ignoring the inclusion of titillating exposé of a scandalous murder for entertainment] be considered as bribery by a political party to influence voters?
I only ask because the opposition has been condemning the BN for the latter’s well-known pork barrelling.
This is an example where the opposition must be very careful not to only walk their own talk, but be wary of (no doubt hypocritical) accusations from the BN because of the latter's ability to prompt swift official actions. In other words, two wrongs doesn't make one right, especially when one is dealing with a system that's controlled by the ruling party.
Two – this is the far more important and interesting one. The existence of such a dinner, where the attendees had been mainly Chinese including DAP bigwigs (and very few Indians) seem to suggest that PKR is focusing on the Ijok Chinese as the crucial voters and might have given up on most of the Indian voters (30%).
I had blogged on this possibility in Ijok - candidates' plus & minuses where the political proclivity or even voting preference of the Ijok Chinese (20%) has remained thus far ‘inscrutable’. The Chinese voters could be the ‘pivotal’ voting bloc – what irony a la 1999.
But malaysiakini also reported that after the dinner, Anwar campaigned at a ceramah in Kampung Jaya Setia, a Malay-majority polling district believed to be a PKR stronghold:
Anwar’s speech, punctuated with Quranic verses, appealed to the locals to defend Jaya Setia as a “fort of the people’s struggle”.
However, despite the considerably good turnout at the ceramah, most of those in the crowd were not locals, and this has caused considerable concern to the party.
Out of 10 people malaysiakini approached last night, only two confirmed they are locals while the others came from Kuala Lumpur, Klang and Seremban.
From the above we may speculate and comment as follows:
One – it demonstrated the versatile and cosmopolitan characteristics of Anwar Ibrahim.
He first thrilled the Chinese crowd with a sexy ‘who’s dunnit’ [the Altantuya Shariibuu murder and its alleged association with Najib], cleverly sprinkled with Cantonese (or Mandarin) words such as a teasing man man (which context may be loosely translated as ‘slowly, be patient, wait a while for the more juicy bits’) to avoid telling the gossipy tale to its completion. Truly the hallmark of a good story teller, or a salesman.
Then in an hour or so later, Anwar was able to switch seamlessly from the salacious to the pious use of holy Quranic verses in his speech while attempting to imbue the locals with a heightened sense of stakeholder-ship in the election outcome, coupled with a challenging …. perhaps we can call it … siege mentality, via his call for them to ‘defend’ their district as a "fort of the people’s struggle".
Two – The worrying news for PKR has been that the crowd were mainly, from a malaysiakini’s quick sampling, 80% outsiders. I wonder whether the locals had stayed away or had been crowded out by supportive or curious outsiders.
This seemed to support what the BN had sneeringly commented in Machap when it dismissed the so-called magic of Anwar despite the huge crowd in the Johor state constituency. The BN said the majority of the crowd were ‘brought’ to Machap by Anwar - as supporting proof of sorts, they pointed out to the unusually extra number of cars and other vehicles seen at the rally. See my previous posting Machap - Mana magic Anwar? - Ijok? - macam mana Anwar?
Anyway, the following is KTemoc’s brave or foolish (and very amateurish) attempt to summarise my personal sense of the forces at play, and the possible outcome for PKR in Ijok.
PKR could possibly grab a good bundle of votes from the Malays – if so, to what extent this could be attributed to Anwar Ibrahim or local boy and heavyweight high profile personality Khalid Ibrahim is something that’s beyond me. But can it take 30 to 35% of the possible 50% votes from this ethnic group? Let’s hope for PKR’s sake and assume so. And it must!
The Indian bloc seems to be a lost zone for PKR but that doesn’t necessarily mean it has lost all Indian votes. The issue of PKR not fielding an Indian candidate, in sharp contrast to the BN, hasn’t been good for its credentials among the Indians despite some excellent damage-control explanations (or spinning) by Indian leaders of PKR. Undoubtedly the MIC would be milking this issue to the last drop among the Indian voters. And what of dissatisfied Indian PKR members?
Notwithstanding the serious damage here, compounded by PSM's disdain of Khalid Ibrahim as a former Guthrie bigwig who wasn’t ‘friendly’ to poor Indian tappers, PKR must get at least 10% of the potential 30% Indian votes, but realistically speaking, it should be ecstatic with anything between 5 to 10%.
Adding up thus far, that’s somewhere between 35 to 45%, a fairly wide range, so let’s say 40% as an optimistic compromise.
Now, we come to those 'inscrutable' Chinese [not counting over-enthusiastic bloggers], whom the PKR must rely on to make up the difference for a 51% total. Can the combined forces of PKR and DAP deliver 11% of the potential 20% Chinese votes?
On the surface it’s do-able. But I worry the Chinese may decide to ‘abstain’.
Why? OK, idealistic fuzzy stuff like responsibility to democracy, exercise one’s right, freedom of speech … blah blah blah … won’t do. Perhaps the Ijok Chinese might rationalise (rightly or wrongly) their votes won’t make a diddly squat of a difference, that the battle is between a Malay and an Indian, or even some poor excuse like 'I won’t reveal my hand now, but man-man-lai Datuk Seri Anwar, wait for our humongous tsunami support at the general election’?
So we may be talking about a typical by-election turnout of 75% (tops) for the Chinese [look, I don’t have a good sampling of all by-elections, but going by the last couple, 75% would be very good].
If, say, 70% of Chinese turn up (that’s around 14% total votes), PKR requires 11% of that, a little over 2/3 to make Khalid the victor.
'nuff of silly political maths. I wish Khalid Ibrahim and K Parthiban the best.