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. ;)

26 comments:

Anonymous said...

So very true. Opposition rallys and ceramahs will draw in the crowds by the thousands. People want to hear the delicious issues from the opposition. But when it comes to actual voting, they will vote for their bread and butter issues. Every GE checkout the opposition rallys in Penang, KL, PJ, etc. They are huge.

You mentioned that DAP worked tirelessly for the last 2 weeks of the campaign, but perhaps this could be the crux of the problem. There's 52 weeks in a year and come every full election cycle, there would have been as much as 250 weeks that passed, but if you only work tirelessly for the last 2 weeks, surely the voters know. With that I am not implying that DAP actually only worked two weeks, but if you are truly sure that DAP worked tirelessly in Machap from the time of the last election until yesterday, then the results is surely a shame.

Anonymous said...

Well, this is the bitter reality in Malaysia - you can expose the abuses, corruptions, and racial pratices of the UMNO-led BN, the voters will still vote for the UMNO-led BN. Malaysia deserves the current ruling political parties and the current downhill slide.

Anonymous said...

Suggestions for future campaigns :

1) Do NOT even talk about replacing BN. Reasons are (a) the man-made barriers have made this almost impossible and (b) it may be twisted to create fear as far as voters' bread and butter is concern. On this topic, I believe another (visibly) all-out campaign for Penang may not work.

2) Highlight mismanagement and wrongs. Keep appealing to the public to help maintain some check-and-balance. On this score, I feel it will be more effective to position DAP as a responsible and effective opposition party.

3) Where possible, future DAP candidates should have tertiary qualification. The recent foot-in-mouth cases have helped expose the low calibre of some of the Cabinet members. May be interesting to do a survey on their educational qualification.

4) To help reduce public concerns, the public should be taught that "The economy has been performing IN SPITE OF the government, not because of it."

Anonymous said...

Hi, Tony. I know that some of DAP fellows are feeling disappointed about Keadilan friends' "last-minute-tayang-muka" attitude in Machap by-election, but I really hope that DAP can show the gentleman manner by joining Keadilan's election campaign in Ijok as early as possible.

DAP won't lose anything by giving Keadilan a hand in the upcoming Ijok by-election. Instead, since the Ijok by-election will once again draw the attention of the whole nation, it is yet another golden opportunity for DAP newbies to get publicity via both mainstream media and online news portal.

I hope that DAP should perceive its relationship and coordination with Keadilan from a broaden perspective.

Politics sometimes is quite similar with business. You can hardly gain even a few new customers by offer your best service, but you could easily chase away a lot of potential customers by giving your current customers bad impression.

Unknown said...

Hi Anon 10.32,

Thanks for the comments, most of which I agree whole-heartedly. There's just one point I'd like to make.

That is the BN propaganda gets even to our own supporters - the fact that apparently our candidate appears only during elections. That is totally untrue.

While he certainly wasn't at Machap on a daily basis, he was helping in the constituency on a fairly regular basis. He has been invited to wedding dinners, full-moon functions plus of course, offered assistance wherever possible during the past 3 years since he was defeated.

I think the public needs also to take into consideration the fact that many of our DAP politicians have to make a living outside of politics, especially if they are not elected.

Unlike BN candidates who are well taken cared of whether they are winners or losers, we have no such fortune. It will certainly be unfair to expect people such as Sdr Chen Kuang (especially for his young family) to be spending full-time serving the constituency on a pro-bono basis.

More later in my subsequent post ;)

Tony

Who am I? said...

It would be really interesting to know how much BN spent on "each voter" in the Machap campaign...

Wilson J Q Quah said...

looking forward to your next post tony. Would love to see some of the examples you gave in the ceramah and the issues that DAP raised.

More importantly is how DAP conveyed its ideology on how the country ought to be run.

Seriously, if there's a silver lining to the election for DAP, it's good to see the many young generations of leaders. You are the guys that will be serving the country during "my/our" time. I'm only 23 :D

Anonymous said...

Don't be suprise. I thought some report says that area is malay dominated. The solution is to make DAP multi racial. Not just talks, but show them with statistics the balanced mix, enough to convince these people they are taken cared of. DAP is still perceived as too chinese.

Anonymous said...

I think some people was afraid if DAP wins for in this area, but the gov still BN, they would have doubt how DAP going to make sure this area develop? Because they know what the gov will do to DAP - where does DAP find funds to develop? From BN? How? Wouldn't BN try as hard as possible to make people think DAP is incapable?

Who am I? said...

Voters should think in terms of "institutional" competition between DAP and BN rather than just what DAP can do for them...

this is because voting for DAP would make the BN goverment try harder to win back their votes... if BN doesnt do anything for DAP areas, then it is clear that there is a 'commitment' problem on the part of BN leaders...

also, the problem of DAP being so racially skewed in terms of membership and supporters is actually the result of many bumiputeras in BN itself (talking about the problems that arises from the lack of representation)... itz unfriendly policies automatically made DAP (and other opposition parties) the natural choice for unhappy constituencies... that is why BN is so willing to promote unfriendly policies... it can't lose... because as long as it favors some groups of constituencies, the demographic attributes of the country just simply couldnt cope with it...

sani said...

Tony

Politics in Malaysia is a tough duty to perform. Not everyone is as smart as you, to be able to have the resources + as brave as you, to publicly stand up. We all know very well the instruments + organs of the goverment, that can be used against rakyats that speak out.

While we know that without registrating our concerns about the affair of the country is unpatriotic, we must also balance it off with our daily bread + butter affairs. Thus the question remains, how do we make it eaisier for people to contribute to this process easier + safer?

I think that in our situation, it is not about only winning over supporters of other parties, but the silent majority among us. Most people i know, don't even know what election actually means. My duty had always been encouraging them to register + vote on election day. Let's not talk about anything else unless they do that, and have a better understanding of politics. The opposition had fail to do that.

There is no second chance for a 1st impression. The impression of many 1st time voters are, that opposition are anti goverment. The truth is that, opposition are part + parcel of governance. To offer a better deal for the people ,not unpatriotic. Thus the outlook of the party must be easier to disgest.

1)Even for a chinese chap like me, i feel extremely uncomfortable at DAP rallies. The National flag is secondary to the Rocket flag. We are patriots, we must fly our colors. If i will to have a say, our national flag must be prominent, at least 3 times the Rocket flag in numbers.

2)It must be multicultural. Our national language must be the main language on banners + propaganda items. For example, why can't the Machap theme song be at least trilingual? You can't attract people who can't read Mandarin because of that. Look how DAP started, Devan Nair, Mhd Noor just to name a few. Because non chinese are the minority in your party, some political affirmative action must be accorded to them. Though i subcribe to Malaysian Malaysia, we must also submit to political reality to move 4ward.

3)The Rocket symbol should be retired. Firstly, though DAP + PAP had a mutual beginning, we must evolve with changing times. Both parties' symbol still looks too much alike.Changing the outlook doesn't mean party to party relationship had to be disregarded. Secondly, because of that symbol's longevity, it had been abused. I was shock to see the Rocket splash all over, in a series of documentary about May 13, some years back.

Some fundamental changes must be consider, before we even talk about governing a state or even the nation. I for one appreciate what you guys are doing.

Anonymous said...

Tony,
The above comments are worthy to be noted by DAP.
I do believe if you abide by the above comments DAP will WIN significantly
Try changing the public perception of DAP and DAP's persona

Maverick SM said...

Tony,

DAP wasn't gracious enough to allow Tian Chua to contest in Machap. He was a local and popular. Logically, he would have given a better showing and a far better probability.

The opposition parties must learn to be wise and gracious. They can't beat the BN with their selfish attitude and stay as pretenders. There must be strategic pact and cooperation and foremost, there must be a proper assessment in selecting the right candidate based on reality and facts.

Anonymous said...

Maverick,

Nah, Keadilan wouldn't have made a difference.

Anonymous said...

Agree with maverick sm's comment. Focus on seats with high potential and leave the rest to the other parties. Fighting for seats can result in loss of goodwill from other parties.

It is possible that your local party branch may insist on participation. But the leadership must balance this against waste of resources in fighting a losing battle.

Anonymous said...

In areas like Machap, its easy for MCA to 'buy' a few thousand Chinese votes and then have UMNO/MIC drag in the rest to win.

Machap voters have to ask themselves if they want their longkong sweep, their roads paved and schools get what they need etc.

Its not so easy to give these things up for national issues.

Urban voters, mobile and not dependent on these issues will vote on national issues differently.

I have been to many DAP ceramah over the years and I will attest that the financial support of the Chinese community towards DAP is far stronger than I have ever seen it before...

Anonymous said...

DAP has to improve their public image.

Most people see them more as a group of angry chinese young men out to get trouble. Give DAP a more human, people friendly party image...
DAP can win.....

Anonymous said...

The Machap's by election shows that so many Malaysians still don't understand what Democratic means.YB Lim.G.E once told me,"Qualities of the voters that counts not quantities(but YB quantities wins!!!)qualities are only a handfull,How? To forward the message of Democratic,they don't blog.Dap should work harder to recruit more younger generations of supporters,like you Tony!!!.Dap needs a TV channel ,:D

Anonymous said...

For those who think that PKR Tian or his prodigy Ginie would have done better, you must either be kidding or dreaming..

Do a study of the polling station results. The votes in the Malay and Indian areas were stubbornly BN (votes for BN increased), despite Anwar and Wan Azizah campaigning hard there. Could PKR have done better in Machap Baru and Umboo? Of course the argument is hypothetical, but its certainly hard to see PKR doing any better, if at all.

Don't forget, Tian was trounced in Alor Gajah previously as well.

Anonymous said...

"Anwar and Wan Azizah campaigning hard there."

Erm..they campaigned but did not CAMPAIGN HARD. one day of campaigning by superstars when the candidate is far from ideal will not work miracles.

Anonymous said...

"All these efforts could have been undone purely through some careless and ill-thought remarks..."

If a sentence can undo all of DAP's work since 1999, it means DAP's message is pretty shallow and unbelievable.

So please 'Chap bow fook' and give your seats to the other opposition parties. Don't waste your time and ours.

Anonymous said...

I think sani said it all for me, thanks.

Anonymous said...

Actually CAMPAIGN HARD doesn't mean the voters will vote for you. You have to UNDERSTAND what the voters want in order to win.

You need psychologists and surveyors to study what's behind the mind of these people.

Anonymous said...

Defeat should never be a source of discouragement,but rather a fresh stimulus.
-south

Anonymous said...

Dear Tony, why did you say that it was a mistake for Ginie to say that voting for DAP is supporting PKR and PAS. It is time DAP face the truth and not be haunted by the so called mistake working with PAS in the past. The challenge is to educate the voters that there is no difference between PAS and UMNO. If DAP continue to hold your view, then essentially it will only repeat the 1969 election when only Chinese voted for the opposition and while the Malays voted for the Government. It is time we galvanise support for every race to vote for whatever opposition parties they choose to vote. We must split all the races right in the middle to bring this corrupted and abusive government down. What is fearful about PAS' Islamic state when the former UMNO PM had openly declared Malaysia to be so.

Anonymous said...

TP,
Maybe DAP have to change their strategy!

Dont fight the BN...instead support MCA until the UMNO component will be threathened by MCA

Let there be intra fighting and instability..

Only when the time come, DAP will shed its image and hantam MCA