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HARD WORK PAYS OFF: Party hopes to wrest Kota Laksamana seat from DAP
GOING down memory lane, Oct 15, 2007 is not a date that many People's Progressive Party (PPP) members could easily forget.
If one may recall, the party was dealt a blow by former Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, also the chief minister of Malacca, who told the state PPP convention in Ayer Keroh that there were no seats for the party in the state for the 2008 general election.
Ali did not mince his words even in the presence of top PPP leaders, including its president, Datuk Seri M. Kayveas.
However, this snub did not stop PPP members from not only staying strong with the Barisan Nasional but also going the extra mile in ensuring that Malacca remained a stronghold for the ruling coalition in 2008.
Although BN lost to DAP the Kota Melaka parliamentary constituency and the Kesidang, Bandar Hilir, Kota Laksamana, Bachang and Ayer Keroh state constituencies, it remained strong by retaining the parliamentary seats of Alor Gajah, Tangga Batu, Masjid Tanah, Jasin and Bukit Katil along with the 23 other state seats.
The hard work and determination of the state PPP, headed by its chairman, Senator Datuk Chiw Tiang Chye, resulted in the party being given a chance to prove itself in Malacca in the next general election.
Early this year, the state BN made it known that PPP would be contesting in Kota Laksamana, which had been held by the DAP for the past 30 years.
The MCA, which had been contesting in Kota Laksamana since 1982, decided that the seat should now be contested by the PPP.
There are 19,511 voters in Kota Laksamana, with the Chinese making up 85 per cent, followed by Malays (11 per cent), Indians (three per cent) and others (one per cent).
In the last general election, DAP's Betty Chew Gek Cheng secured 11,043, beating BN's Lee Kiat Lee (from MCA) with a 7,242 majority.
For Chiw, this opportunity is an endorsement by the state BN for all the hard work done by the party in Malacca.
"Four years ago, we might have been seen as being weak, but now, the chief minister and state BN have the confidence to consider fielding a candidate from PPP as the BN candidate for Kota Laksamana," he said.
The state BN supporters club is also moving strongly in Kota Laksamana as it has to date roped in more than 10,000 members from people of all races, including the Straits-born Chinese, the Baba Nyonya and the Peranakan Indians, or the Chetti community.
This is also seen as a sign that the voters in the constituency have accepted the decision to allow the PPP to contest in the Chinese majority constituency.
Betty Chew, who is the wife of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng, says that serving three terms as an assemblywoman was enough and it is time for her to give an opportunity to others to contest.
"I am not afraid of losing the seat to the candidate from the PPP," she says.
"We in the DAP are prepared to face anyone in the election, regardless of which BN component party they come from. I have beaten the BN candidates in three general elections."
On the candidate who would replace her in Kota Laksamana, Chew says the decision will be made by the top DAP leaders.