2046: This afternoon, I checked out a Pas briefing session at Kampong Boyan aimed at activists who have volunteered. Among those represented there was the group opposing the teaching of Maths and Science in English. The language issue is likely to feature prominently in the Pas campaign.
At the same time, the party is also touting its “Pas for all” makeover aimed at making the party more acceptable to other groups in the spirit of “constructive engagement”.
1940: Just had dinner after earlier tucking into some cool Taiping cendol from a road-side stall, which advertises itself as “generasi ketiga” (third generation), so I’m pretty stuffed! Covering these by-elections is hard work…
Forgot to mention that the PKR MP told me the BN’s main issues in Bukit Gantang were about derhaka and Pakatan’s land titles to non-Malays.
According to him, Mahathir was expected to be in Bukit Gantang today, but the PKR MP said the Pakatan is not worried as his presence in town would actually help the alliance. It would be interesting to see how Mahathir reconciles the derhaka issue with his earlier constitutional amendment affecting the royalty. Moreover, the MP added, people still remember Mahathir’s divisive role in Umno during the party split in 1987. He said Mahathir’s influence in Umno is overestimated and reminded me that Muhkriz finished last among the three Umno Youth candidates vying for the top post.
It’s pouring cats and dogs now; I am not sure how it’s going to affect the ceramahs tonight featuring Nizar, Azmin Ali, Abdullah Sani and DAP politicians.
1828: As expected by campaigners in Bukit Selambau, where 30 per cent of voters are ethnic Indians, a couple of Hindaf detainees are among the 13 ISA detainees released ahead of the by-elections. And as predicted, Hindraf leader Uthayakumar isn’t among those released.
1813: The PKR MP I spoke to this morning predicts that PKR will win Batang Ai by 1,000 votes, and Bukit Selambau and Bukit Gantang both by 3,000-vote majorities. Much will depend on the turnout of the Chinese voters in Bukit Gantang.
I asked him whether he was aware of the nature of Anwar’s “Big Shock” announcement tonight.
“Yes,” replied. But he was not telling. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be a big surprise, would it.
“Is it really going to be a kejutan besar (big shock)?” I asked.
“Yes, a big one,” he replied knowingly.
We shall see.
1741: Blog reader Karma reports:
The people here until now seem to favour Pakatan candidate more. Eight out of 10 people talked to wanted Nizar to win. Nizar is a very popular personality here. He is popular among all races. Not much has been mentioned about the BN candidate. Towering Nizar has overshadowed him.
The racial card played by some campaigners here did not favour many residents in this constituency. They felt its the same old story used only to get votes. A man in his 30s said, “Kita tetap miskin. Tengok apa yang dibuat mereka. Tengok mereka berkereta besar, berpakaian hebat. Tengok kami; tengok rumah kami; tengok anak-anak kami. Miskin dari dulu sampai sekarang.”
Issues based on race and religion have not swung people’s liking for Nizar. They are more concerned with the price of essential things that have gone up, unemployment and social problems among the youth. They feel that governance should focus more on the poor. The presence of well-dressed BN campaigners in big expensive cars has not made the people here happy. Most are poor people and they feel the big gap between them and those in power.
Looks as if the support for Nizar has tremendously increased among all the races. Out of 10 interviewed, eight preferred Nizar, one the BN candidate and one was undecided.
Asked about Mahathir’s support for the BN candidate and that he is going to campaign for him, many quipped, “Kita tak nak dengar dia lagi. Zaman dia dulu pun banyak memberi masalah kepada rakyat. Kami ingin perubahan besar. Kami tak nak dia lagi. Kami tak suka cara dia kutuk Pak Lah. Pak Lah tu orang baik.”
Seems like, Mahathir is not going to have any impact on the outcome of this by-election.
1309: Greetings from Taiping. Ran into a PKR MP who is leading the campaign in BN stronghold of Trong and he told me he is confident that Pakatan will get at least 57 per cent of the votes in Bukit Gantang.
He estimates support from the Malays to be at least 40 per cent while Chinese support to be around 70-80 per cent. Stay tuned. Mahathir is due to make an appearance this afternoon in Taman Kaya.