P.140 Segamat (13th General Election on May 5, 2013)
46,262 (20,093/43.43% Malays; 21,393/46.24% Chinese; 4,641/10.03% Indians)--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Friday, 26 April 2013 05:11
With 10 days to go, Jui Meng sees less than 50% chance: WE WILL SOLDIER ON!Written by Wong Choon Mei, Alaa Soleiman, Malaysia Chronicle
EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW SEGAMAT, JOHOR - With 10 days left to go for the “Mother of All Battles”, PKR vice president Chua Jui Meng rates his chances of winning the Segamat seat as still being below 50%. But he is not about to give up yet.
“At the moment I would say below 50%. When we first started Sin Chew newspaper came out with an analysis based on the 4th quarter of last year which is the final date of the new electoral roll and the analysis basically said that BN would have 55% and we were then at 45%. We are trying to inch closer to 50 and maybe make it to 51. It will be a very tough fight and even if we win it will be very narrow," Jui Meng told Malaysia Chronicle in an exclusive interview.
Malaysia is due to hold its 13th general election on May 5 and Johor is considered a key 'swing state'. In the previous election, the Opposition could only snatch 1 of the 26 parliamentary seats here. This time round, Jui Meng expects the Pakatan Rakyat led by Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim to bag 12.
If Jui Meng is proven right, the additional 11 seats would greatly help Pakatan wrest control of the federal government. In the 2008 election, Pakatan had won 82 of the federal Parliament's 222 seats but the tripartite coalition of PKR, PAS and DAP is now rated as having a better than even chance of getting the 112-seats minimum required to form a simple majority.
Going after the "black areas": Additional 7,000 voters pop out!
After capturing the attention of the local Chinese who live mostly in the town areas, Jui Meng has shifted into the second phase of his campaign. He is now targeting the “black areas” – the Felda settlements where die-hard Umno supporters hold sway.
So far, the response from the Felda settlements has not been strong but Jui Meng knows he has to keep at it or his former colleague in the federal Cabinet S Subramaniam, the Human Resource Minister, will beat him come polling day on May 5.
“It started with a bang, it was a really strong reception from the Chinese community but as we went along and looked at the electoral roll, we realised that everything was not as rosy as it appeared because we realized there was an increase from 40,000 to 47,000 voters - an increase of over 7,000 and mainly Malays placed in the Felda areas, of Palong Timur area and other Malay voting districts. So that has given us a better picture of this constituency. It is rural agricultural mainly outside the main towns of Buloh Kasap, Segamat and Jemantah. It's just little blobs surrounded by a sea of agricultural land, Felda, Felcra, rubber holdings, oil palm holdings," said Jui Meng.
Although he managed to hold a small ceramah or political rally at Felda Palong Timor I on Thursday night, the turnout was less than 100. Not only was there a heavy downpour but it was obvious from the presence of several Umno supporters there, conspicuous in their BN blue jackets, that settlers might have been discouraged from attending.
Jui Meng admitted the going was very tough in these areas. He took heart from the "historic" 30,000 crowd that came to his ceramah on Wednesday night to watch Anwar deliver a stinging speech. To him, that could be a "turning point" in his campaign.
"It’s too early to say but from what we have gathered from PAS, the situation has improved compared from the last election but having said that you must understand in Palong Timur, the amount of votes obtained by DAP in the last election was miniscule and the voters have gone up from 1900 to 3700. Even if we can get 10% or if we really push for it, 20%, it is still a tough fight."
"It was historic, never seen before by the Segamat peoplel, they were in fine fettle, they were in fighting spirit, they were there for us. They were mainly Chinese, I would say 60%, the rest Malays and some others. It was good they waited until after Anwar finished his speech which was well after midnight. So to me, it could be the turning point in a very difficult sea."
12 seats possible
When asked about PKR's chances and the Pakatan's as a whole in Johor, Jui Meng was optimistic.
"I think it is good in the sense that we just had one seat in the last general election and now we are looking at maybe 12 seats. DAP is standing for 6 parliamentary seats and most of them are winnable seats. There’s a very substantial number of Chinese there. Gelang Patah is an obvious example, Kulai is a Chinese majority seat, Bakri is a Chinese majority seat. Three Chinese majority seats out of 6. The rest are a good mix with the Chinese having an edge over the other races so these 6 are winnable seats. Maybe we can get a minimum 4 out of these seats or maybe 5."
"And for PKR, we have seen the work they have put in over the last 3 years bear fruit. Anwar’s advance in Johor has been monumental in the sense that he can draw really large crowds like he did in Segamat throughout the past 3 years. We have done our homework which is why we don’t really have to go out and have a blast or a big party on the eve of the election. The work has been done steadily to win over especially the Malay hearts and the Indian hearts. The Chinese heart is already with us even 3 years ago. So it is in this situation that gives us hope that we may be able to get a certain number of seats compared to zero in the last general election."
We soldier on
Jui Meng set up camp in Segamat on April 10, soon after receiving his orders from Anwar to contest at Segamat instead of at Gelang Patah, the constituency that he had worked on for 4 years.
"Tough. Because the PKR structure was almost non existent (in Segamat) except for some people who stayed back. The former chairman had also disappeared and the membership that he brought with him to fight to get the chairmanship of Segamat was mostly from Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. They were not people from Segamat, so the structure was very very weak. And of course this is not our seat and we have not invested as much as we should have in Segamat.
When asked if he still felt sore about DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang snatching the Gelang Patah seat from him, it was obvious that while Jui Meng had let bygones be bygones, it would take time for the wounds to fully heal.
"It's tough but we solider on, we soldier on as good soldiers should!"