Malaysia’s 13th General Election

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BN banking on service approach

PEOPLE-CENTRIC: Party sources say they are confident of winning 14 parliamentary seats and 18 state seats in Selangor, write Mazlinda Mahmood and Eunice Au

 Five years after voting Pakatan Rakyat into the state, Selangor folk  now say the PR leadership has fallen short of their expectations.

Their hopes for better administration of the state, new townships, more affordable housing and better infrastructure have fallen by the wayside and have instead been replaced by a water crisis, poor rubbish collection and stripping of the state's assets, which although boosted the coffers, have yet to trickle down to the people.

There's also the issue of unfulfilled promises in PR's election manifesto, which have resulted in thousands suing the state government and Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.

Many are disillusioned and have grown tired of the state's answer for all its problems: "blame the previous government" or "wait until we take over Putrajaya".

While the public's reaction to the water shortage scare, PKNS and other issues do not seem to rattle the state's Pakatan leaders, it has paved a path for Selangor Barisan Nasional to win back the hearts of the people they lost in the 12th general election.

In 2008, three out of 22 parliamentary seats and 12 out of 56 state seats were won with a majority of fewer than 1,000 in Selangor.

The three parliamentary seats are Hulu Selangor (won by Parti Keadilan Rakyat with a majority of 198), Kuala Selangor (Pas 862) and Kuala Langat (PKR 989).

In Kuala Selangor, the number of spoilt votes (894) was more than the majority (862) won (by Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad from Pas).

The 12 state seats won with a slim majority were Sungai Air Tawar (won by BN with a majority of 123), Sabak (BN 117), Sekinchan (DAP 190), Kuala Kubu Baharu (MCA 448), Permatang (BN 608), Bukit Melawati (PKR 297), Kuang (BN 517), Taman Templer (BN 613), Seri Serdang (BN 45), Paya Jaras (BN 642), Teluk Datuk (DAP 698) and Morib (BN 286).

In these 15 areas, every single vote will count, and if BN plays its cards well and saboteurs are kept at bay, the party may well retain its seats and regain those it lost.

Party sources say BN is confident of winning 14 parliamentary seats and at least 18 state seats.

Pakatan has a strong hold on 15 areas while the other 23 seats can swing either way.

However, BN is not leaving anything to chance and is micro managing these areas to shore up votes.

Since its loss in 2008, Selangor BN has become people-centric, pulling out all the stops to make its leaders and representatives accessible to the people.

The party has set up a public service hotline, "Pakar", which the people can call if they have problems.

They can also air their views and problems on the party's online radio SelangorBN.FM or via the Sayangi Selangor Facebook page, which has more than 197,000 likes.

In DAP, discontent seems to be brewing among the party's grassroots leaders, who feel they have been ignored by the leadership.

Local leaders have complained of being sidelined in favour of new candidates who will be parachuted in from other areas.

Many incumbent leaders, such as Teluk Datuk state assemblyman Philip Tan Choon Swee and Pandamaran state assemblyman Ronnie Liu, have also been beset with controversies and have come under fire by Selangor residents for underperforming.

Liu, for instance, who is in charge of the local government, research and development portfolio, has been taken to task for the rising number of illegal massage parlours in the state.

Other incumbents, such as Subang Jaya state assemblyman Hannah Yeoh, who have been busy touching base with the people, may be able to retain their seats but members believe that if the leadership continues to neglect local leaders, the growing unhappiness among the grassroots will lead to disunity and might cost the party some seats.

Selangor Pas believes it will have a stronger showing this time round compared with 2008 when it lost 12 out of the 20 state seats it contested.

However, going head to head with Umno in Malay-majority seats may be an uphill task for the party as Pas has been courting controversies left and right, from implementing hudud, to limiting the use of the term "Allah" and to the sacking of Datuk Dr Hasan Ali as its state commissioner.

As for PKR, the fact that its menteri besar does not hold the top state party post presents a unique situation.

Khalid is merely a division chief in Ijok after he was dropped as PKR state chief and replaced by his chief adversary, Gombak member of parliament Mohamed Azmin Ali.

Azmin is also the second person in charge of vetting the PKR candidates' list.

It is an open secret that Khalid's political future in Selangor is bleak and he may not return as menteri besar even if Pakatan retains Selangor.

The Pakatan leadership has yet to confirm whether Khalid will defend his Ijok seat.

Selangor PKR is in the process of reshuffling its candidates, pushing candidates unpopular at the grassroots level to Parliament and dropping those who have ceased to be effective.

 

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