Friday, April 13, 2007

Machap: A Reflection (I)

The Machap by election result has been announced. Was it within expectations? Yes, it definitely was. We participated in the by-election with the full knowledge that Machap was a Barisan Nasional "fortress" that will be very difficult to penetrate. Was the results disappointing nevertheless? Yes, it certainly was as well.

The Party workers worked tirelessly full-time for some 2 weeks. Compared to the General Elections period whereby only 1 ceramah was held, this time round, we must have had organised nearly 20 such sessions, on a nightly basis. Party leaders all over the country travelled extensively to Machap to deliver their messages to a seemingly receptive constituents. Even our state assemblywomen from Sarawak came over to lend their support. Extensive house-to-house call were made, leaving many pretty much dehydrated and sun-burnt.

In addition, our DAPSY team assisted in ensuring the publicity machinery of the candidate ran like clockwork, squeezing as much mileage as possible to overcome the tremendous disadvantages posed by the local mainstream media.

And yet, for all the non-stop hardwork, our candidate, Sdr Liou Chen Kuang, also a DAPSY committee member, secured only 167 votes more than the previous campaign, or a slightly more respectable reduction of 480 votes in terms of losing majority.

During the campaign, were there elements which give rise to optimism in performing better? There was. One of the reasons why that many ceramahs were held, was really because of its popularity. The final day ceramah perdana at Machap Baru attracted some 1,000 people, albeit with many outsiders. Even the one held in Melaka Pindah targetting Malay voters attracted some 600 or so audience.

As noted by many journalists, the audience was there not only listening, but forking out a fair bit of cash as well in terms of donations to the party. The very encouraging nightly collections, which YB Teresa Kok says she doesn't even receive in her constituency Seputeh, gave confidence to the young party compatriots like myself. Clearly, another party leader with plenty of experience was a lot more reserved, and rightly so. He said that many of these villages will support you financially, but will give their votes to BN because that's where they expect their next bowl of rice to come from.

Incidents during the campaign were pretty much in our favour as well.
  • Nomination day was marred by MIC Youths, who were pretty much gangsters, assaulting our members as well as 2 members of the press.

  • Earlier in the week, a 22-year old Machap resident met a fatal road accident. Despite the clinic being less than a kilometre away, the ambulance never arrived - because the driver could not be found (!). And this wasn't the first time as well.

  • Oddly, enough, even Melaka Pindah was flooded that day. This was a rare occurence because Machap is practically as high as you can get in Melaka, for this is where the Durian Tunggal dam and water catchment area is located. The flood occurred apparently due to a poorly maintained and clogged drainage system.
There was only 1 notable incident whereby our campaign was "marred", although the extent of its impact was hopefully limited. On the first day of campaigning, we were gracious enough to invite the young media co-ordinator of Parti Keadilan Rakyat, Ginie Lim to speak at our ceramah in Machap Umboo, which proved to be a clear mistake on hindsight. Unbelievably, incomprehensibly and most naively, she proceeded to tell the audience that "supporting DAP is supporting the opposition, supporting the opposition is supporting PKR and PAS."

She basically handed ammunition on a silver platter to MCA, who wasted no time making thousands of copies of the ceramah VCD together with a leaflet alleging the existence a secret pact between DAP and PAS, and alluded our support for a Islamic State. They were distributed house to house earlier this week. (Apparently, she still think its a non-issue.)

DAP has gone at great lengths to disassociate ourselves from any political party which seeks to establish an Islamic state, whether UMNO or PAS over the past few years, having learnt painful lessons in 1999. All these efforts could have been undone purely through some careless and ill-thought remarks, which thankfully in this case, didn't come from a DAP member.

So, why did we not do better? Could we have done better? I'll try cover these factors in my next post. ;)
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