By Jeff Ooi
Yesterday, my DAP Jelutong Team was assigned to partner PAS Federal Territory (Kuala Lumpur) to take charge of voters in the Larut Tin polling district, an Umno stronghold. We had a few plans lined up knowing full well that BN would prefer a lower voter turn-up rate, especially those from the non-Malay votes.
Our candidate Mohd Nizar Jamaluddin came to our pondok panas around 9.25am, followed by Perak Speaker V. Sivakumar around 10.15am though the twain didn't meet. The voters had been coming in at steady flow, then.
However, we became panicky around lunch time, and rain came in about that time. Of the 1,308 voters from Taman Sungai Mas, a total of 869 had yet to come out to cast their votes with closing time ticking away. Whereas, those from the Malay wards of Kampung Larut Tin and Kampung Larut Tin Tambahan had almost voted in full force.
Taman Sungai Mas was critical as the voters are pre-dominantly non-Malays. The tally around 1.15pm indicated that only about 1,000 out of 2,900 voters from my polling district had turned up. We had less than 4 hours to escalate the 33.9% turn-up rate to the targetted 80% by 5pm, when balloting had to stop. That's a big headache.
The sluggish turn-out was largely caused by massive traffic jams along the narrow trunk roads, strangely filled with idle, double-occupancy vehicles bearing the W and B number plates from the Klang Valley. Roads along Jalan Kota and onward to Kuala Sepetang, another Chinese-concentrated area, were paralysed at the 4-corner main junction. Folks who stayed or worked in nearby Taiping town simply couldn't get to the polling stations in Simpang and Kuala Sepetang without making huge effort.
I drove out to take a look around 3.30pm. The traffic police weren't of much help. Vehicles coming from Taiping were not allowed to travel forward to Kuala Sepetang nor turn right to the Kamunting exit. They were only allowed to reverse at the farther third U-Turn, which by then had seen the back flow thinned out. Many a voter caught in the situation would have been pissed and aborted the will to vote.
Earlier, we complained to the police, and on our own organised convoys of motorbikes to ferry the voters. My command to the team is to gather every non-Malay vote as every vote counts to ensure a thick cushion to avert any potential upset.
Admittedly, though, I would certainly say turn-out rate among the Chinese voters was seriously impacted. I reckon it was frantically too little too late and we should be more prepared the next time. Otherwise, Mohd Nizar would have won more than the that he received last night.
Meanwhile, we will have to wait for the Forms 14 to analyse the voting pattern by racial breakdown. Because it's ever so easy for Umno to blame MCA, Gerakan and MIC for not delivering the non-Malay votes to BN.
But then again, Gerakan which held the constituency in GE2004, and MCA and MIC combined, were virtually non-existent hence non-effective in Bukit Gantang. Their leaders showed up on the ground as mere election tourists to coincide with the appearance of Umno taikos.
Never mind the fact that Dr Koh Tsu Koon had only a handful to accompany him to midnight supper near Taiping Lake Garden on the eve of Voting Day. My DAP Jelutong Team of 12, who happened to be there, simply outnumbered his.
All said and done, the post-mortem will dictate that Najib's political coup d'etat has been invalidated by the Perak people. Fresh state-wide election is a must to restore public and investor confidence in Malaysia. (http://www.jeffooi.com)