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Empty promises shrink BN - ST
By web aNtu
14/6/2000 5:55 pm Wed
From: mIChaeL fONg
Subject: [BUNGARAYA] Empty promises shrink BN's votes
Time will heal.
The Telok Kemang parliamentary by-election result on Saturday suggests
that the strategy of depending on time is a double-edged sword.
Time plus inaction plus continuous allegations of corruption and
nepotism by the opposition causes the fire of anger among voters to rage
In November, the Barisan Nasional candidate won the seat in Negri
Sembilan by a yawning margin of nearly 10,000 votes.
On Saturday, the coalition's candidate, Mr S. Sothinathan, defeated his
opponent from Parti Keadilan Nasional Ruslan Ka#sim but by a smaller
majority -- 4,000 votes less than the last time.
A preliminary study of the voting pattern shows that the ruling
coalition candidate garnered about 62 per cent of the Malay vote, 80 per
cent of the Indian vote but only 48 per cent of the Chinese vote. At
the November polls, nearly 70 per cent of the Chinese electorate in the
area supported the Barisan Nasional candidate.
Why the sudden shift to the opposition camp? Because over time, the
disappointment felt by the pig-breeders of the virus-ravaged Bukit
Pelanduk and their families over what they perceived as inaction by the
government turned to anger.
Two years ago, this cluster of villages was once the biggest pig-farming
industry in the region. Today, it is a ghost town, no thanks to the
Nipah virus that killed about 80 people and forced 900,000 pigs to be
shot, bludgeoned or buried alive.
It is also a reservoir of unhappiness. That reservoir was kept from
overflowing in the November elections by a slew of promises from
Malaysia Chinese a#sociation.
Pig farmers were a#sured that the initial compensation package of RM50
(S$23) per head of pig culled would be increased by RM70. They were also
told that the state government would make a decision on whether to allow
pig breeding in the area.
There was little progress until two weeks before the by-election when
the government gave out more compensation and announced that pig farming
would be allowed in a selected zone.
By then, the farmers were already being summoned to courts in Seremban
and Shah Alam to face bankruptcy hearings over their inability to repay
debts to banks and feed suppliers.
If only the aid had come earlier, says Mr Lai Poh Chon, 36, a member of
the Malaysian Swine a#sociation.
""People feel that their suffering has been forgotten. They kept their
anger inside,'' notes the man who lost a brother to the virus.
On Saturday, most of them vented their frustration at the Barisan
Datuk Yeow Chai Thiam, state a#semblyman for Lukut, was upset. He said:
""They have no gratitude at all and are not thankful for what the BN
government has done for them.''
A similar refrain was heard from Umno politicians who were puzzled how
the opposition candidate garnered more postal votes -- votes from army
and police personnel -- than Mr Sothinathan.
In November, 1,874 of the 2,931 postal votes in the constituency went to
the Barisan Nasional candidate with 730 going to the opposition.
This time, the opposition candidate obtained 1,743 postal votes. Umno
sources say that talk of relocating the military camp from its choice
site near the beach in Port d##kson had upset army personnel who felt
that they were being treated as second cla#s citizens.
But they concede that a more likely reason for the shift in support for
the opposition was the growing sense among some sectors of the Malay
electorate that not much has changed in Umno since the general
Yes, ministers and senior party officials who campaigned in Telok Kemang
drove Proton Perdanas, left their expensive clothes at home and spent
quality time with the constituents but hangers-on and members of their
entourage still exhibited the trappings of a rich boy's club.
At several villages, party members received hostile or indifferent
treatment from people who sold fruits and vegetables for a living and
Every day for the past two weeks, these constituents were told how
corrupt, power crazy and greedy politicians from Umno were by opposition
politicians who employed a similar tactic during the general election.
Only this time, they asked people to think if the Malay ruling party or the Mahathir administration had embraced whole-hearted change since the November polls. ---Straits Times