Thursday, 22 May 2014

Teluk Intan Election

Sin Chew Jit Poh
22 May 2014


The Teluk Intan by election is an interesting one. It is by no means a sure thing that DAP will win the seat again. Unlike Bukit Gelugor where I am certain that they will win. After all they had a huge majority the last time and I am sure that Ramkarpal Singh will quite seamlessly fill his late father’s shoes as MP in that area. Besides, he has no real competition, despite the daredevil antics of one of the candidates. I have never heard of a candidate throwing himself in harm’s way by leaping at the car of a Chief Minister before. Only in Malaysia!


But back to Teluk Intan. The situation is not so clear cut. The majority DAP won there was not huge and now they have an extra burden with being linked to PAS who have been calling for the implementation of hudud in Kelantan. In the past General Election, the hudud issue was not on the Pakatan Rakyat’s manifesto and people thought that PAS had mellowed.


This return to PAS’s fundamentalist roots is bound to make some voters feel very uncomfortable. The DAP candidate is in a tough situation. Those who oppose hudud will be suspicious of her party’s continued relationship with PAS. Those who support hudud will be unlikely to support her because she has gone on record that she will stick to the DAP party line and not support its implementation.


Hopefully, the elections won’t fall on this single issue. And it is an issue which is at the moment put on hold anyway since PAS has decided not to table the bill in Parliament that will empower them to implement hudud in Kelantan. Hopefully other pressing issues will also be considered by the people of Teluk Intan; such as the GST, rising cost of living, corruption, standards of education, institutional failures and a host of other things that a potential MP should be campaigning about.


Another thing the Teluk Intan by elections raise is that as a society, we are still rather sexist. Much has been made about the DAP candidate’s appearance. Really, why should this matter? Her youth might be a factor to be considered, but surely not what she looks like.


I say this focussing on her looks is sexist because the looks of male candidates have never been put under the spotlight. Maybe it is because all our male politicians are so ugly. But even if there would be a Shah Rukh Khan look alike amongst them, I seriously doubt the media would be going on and on about his handsomeness.


There are many positive things to be taken from Teluk Intan. The BN candidate’s refusal to accept Perkasa’s help in tarnishing the DAP candidate is a good thing. As is DAP’s decision to give a chance to a young person who would undoubtedly be more sensitive to the concerns of the youth in the country (who are now a huge part of our demographics).


But the negative side is that there is still much harping about race. Both sides are making quite a big deal about the DAP candidate’s ethnicity. I hope one day all we care about is the quality of the candidate. His or her ethnicity should not make a difference, and for sure whether they are good looking or not should not make a difference either.