Video Clip – Charles Santiago 4 Klang to Parliament – The Peoples Choice; Imran Imtiaz Prognosis Mar 8 Election – 30 to 50 seats gained for Opposition
Video Clip – Charles Santiago 4 Klang to Parliament – The Peoples Choice; Let’s Make it Happen; Let’s Make the Difference; he wanted to initiate Change to make Klang & Malaysia a
& Imran Imtiaz Prognosis of the Mar 8 Election – Most 50 seats conservative 30 seats gained for Opposition
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While Ch'ng listens to usual complaints of clogged drains and poor street-lighting -
Here is what they say:
Datuk Ch’ng Toh Eng, 56 (incumbent BN-MCA); Selangor MCA Chief
Former teacher turned politician
How has your campaign trail been and what are the issues raised by Klang voters?
It’s been going well. The main complaints I have received are on clogged drains, street lights and pot-holes among others. Klang voters ask a lot of questions and most want to know why some parliamentary constituencies like Pak Lah’s constituency seem to get more attention compared with Klang. Most of their complaints and grouses revolve around lack of development, infrastructure and planning for Klang.
How do you plan to address these problems?
The BN state assemblymen and I will work as a team to address this problem by bringing it up to the local authority and state levels.
As a former councillor and assemblyman I also have the knowledge of how to plan development effectively when there is a need in this constituency. I am familiar with the separation of powers between the state and Federal government. For example if there is a request for a community centre then I know the process it needs to go through, including that at state, district and local authority levels to deliver.
These are more of local issues which should be addressed by the state assemblymen, what are the national issues in Klang and the country as a whole which you plan to raise in Parliament?
The first is the issue of security, the second are issues pertaining the influx of cheap foreign labour which have left a lot of locals jobless and thirdly the issues affecting my Indian voters. Many of the Indians I have met during the campaign trail have aired their frustrations over the lack of educational, skills training and job opportunities for the community, and I plan to bring these up in Parliament.
How different is your experience in running for a Parliament seat compared with a state seat? (Ch’ng was Kuala Kubu Baru assemblyman)
In Klang people ask a lot of questions. Secondly I receive a lot of complaints on road and infrastructure, but in areas like Kuala Kubu Baru the issues that are raised are still application for land titles. In Klang people question why there are no new projects but they fail to see that there are new projects like Bukit Tinggi for example. They see this as private projects. But it is the government who approves these projects - they don't see it that way. Also they question why there are no universities or institutions being built here, but they fail to see the difficulty in obtaining a large piece of land – you need like 100 acres to build a university for instance. People don’t understand, so we need to explain these things.
How do you view your opponent and the issues he has raised including that on water? = == == = == == = == == ==
I met him at the nomination centre. We shook hands. This is a gentlemen’s fight. He is my friend and I don’t want to comment about anything on him. When I campaign I tell people who I am and what I can offer.
Charles Santiago, 47
Occupation: Self Employed/Consultant and adviser to various organisations on trade, human rights and water issues.
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You seem to be very passionate about issues on water as seen during your campaign, why do you feel this is an important issue that needs to be addressed by Parliament? (Charles has had several meetings with parliamentarians over this issue over the past two years.)
(Water, Telecommunications and
Water is a basic human need to survive! One can live without electricity but not without water. However in Selangor, Putrajaya and Johor it has been privatised and its prices are subject to rise due to the concession agreements with the water concessionaires. The government is transferring state wealth into private hands. "This is not a profit commodity!" But in Selangor the price has already gone up by 15% and it is expected to go up even further to 37% by January 2009.
How do you know this?
It’s in the concession agreement. I’m not saying that water should be given free, but it should be affordable to all and at the same time the public must be educated on responsible usage of water and ways to reduce wastage.
What other national issues do you plan to raise as a parliamentarian?
Access to affordable health care which is also a basic need and right of every citizen. This is another example of a fundamental need being taken over by profit motivated corporations.
So I hope that people, during voting this time around say that there is no point in having the tallest building in the world if Malaysians have problems accessing basic needs like water and healthcare. The other would be education – to ensure that vernacular schools get the same privileges as national schools and the freedom of information act which I think can resolve transparency and corruption issues, and force the government to toe the line.
What is the sentiment on the ground?
That there is a need to place more representatives in Parliament to speak up for the rights of the Rakyat, and not just for certain corporations and cronies.
How do you view your competition who is a three term state assemblyman and state executive councilor?
Yes, he has his strengths but as we know when it comes to policy decisions, MCA and MIC do nothing. It is Umno and the Mentri Besar who call the shots.
His previous state constituency was given the worst rating by the state government and the residents in Kg Papan in Klang have had their land and livelihood taken away. One can be a member in the state executive council and local council, but have you represented the people and aspirations of the community? In the case of Klang, the misdeeds of the previous Port Klang assemblyman who was also a Klang municipal councilor highlights the flaws in the present system which allows this to happen.
What are your strengths which will make you an effective parliamentarian?
I’m an academician who has been working with non-governmental organisations, and local and international bodies on trade, human rights and water issues. I am adviser to a few regional and national bodies on issues pertaining to international trade, and am a consultant to the European Union in
N46 Pelabuhan Klang
Total voters: 77,816
Malays: 33.1%;Chinese 47.3%;
In a recent press conference, Charles Santiago, a DAP candidate and social activist running for the Klang MP seat, posed a challenge to his opponent, Ch’ng Toh
ECONOMIST Charles Santiago had a first hand experience of Hokkien hospitality recently when he visited several Chinese homes in Pandamaran in Port Klang recently.
“I have been coming to Klang since I was six-years-old to either the St Anne's Church in Port Klang or to visit many of my relatives who are scattered all over Klang ,” he said.
On his candidacy in Klang,
It is believed that Selangor MCA chief Datuk Ch’ng Toh Eng would be contesting in Klang.
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The country's voters, disgruntled over a wide range of issues, go to the polls on March 8
citizen discontent, may be gaining some unaccustomed momentum ahead of voting at
In addition, there is rising apprehension among both the Indian and Chinese populations over increasingly strident assertions of racial superiority by ethnic Malays. Whatever the debate, the fact remains that the worst race riots in Malaysian history – in May 1969, 39 years ago, have haunted and shaped Malaysian politics ever since. The race card has been used by all factions in
stables and a promise to do it, then backed away. Thus heartened, the main opposition parties have agreed to cooperate with each other, fielding single candidacies in most constituencies to avoid splitting their votes and giving the Barisan a clear path to return to power. The Barisan in 2004 won 91 percent of the seats in the parliament and expects to lose at least some. Badawi himself has sought to dampen expectations, telling supporters and reporters to expect losses. Some analysts have suggested the opposition could take as many as 50 seats in the 222-member body. But as many as 30 would be optimistic. Part of the opposition's problem is that the electoral districts are blatantly gerrymandered. In the 2004 elections, although the Barisan won only about 64 percent of the popular vote, it ended up with 198 of the 219 seats. The MCA won 15.5 percent of the popular vote and 31 seats while the opposition DAP won about 10 percent of the vote but only 12 seats.
There are some wild cards. In a country where internet use is increasingly popular, independent websites like Malaysia Today and Malaysiakini are publicizing institutional corruption and other issues, particularly in the judiciary, which is facing its biggest scandal since the country came into existence. "This election has the power of the Internet that is greatly influencing voters' opinion. Blogs and popular websites are quick and effective disseminators of information, where readers form opinions based on the information received," Tricia Yeoh, a senior analyst for
"Secondly, the BN has had numerous issues to contend within the recent year, casting a shadow of gloom over its leadership, as opposed to the 'positive feel' it achieved in the 2004 elections.
"Such issues are - dissatisfaction over the demolition of temples and overall marginalisation of the Indians, judicial corruption brought to light, the inability to handle controversial cases on religion, the economy and rising prices, amongst others. Third, the groundswell of civil society in numerous forms: monitoring, advocacy, candidacy, voter education, again making use of the Web - is a significant factor compared to the previous elections," Yeoh said. But, Yeoh added, she expects the opposition to win no more than 15 new seats, giving it a total of 34 or so. It now holds 19. With the opposition throughout its history having failed in any real terms to present any form of shadow government or balance of power to the ruling coalition, as usual the electoral battle is within the
Barisan itself. Although Abdullah Badawi sought to consolidate his UMNO power base by attempting to put his own acolytes in place, dropping some old bulls from the battle, other attempts to drop state warlords have backfired. In the northern state of Perlis, supporters of the incumbent chief minister resigned en masse, locking up operations rooms and refusing to campaign for the party. Meanwhile, observers say that the MCA president Ong Ka Ting dropped his key rivals, including former health minister Chua Jui Meng, who challenged Ong for the presidency in 2005.
The Barisan itself is driven with a variety of different struggles. Although UMNO previously dominated the cabinet and policy decisions, the MCA, MIC and Gerakan, another Chinese-dominated party, have been unable to have much impact in the wake of adverse court decisions concerning the rights of non-Malays. Another wild card this time around is Mahathir Mohamad, 82, who for
the first time is conspicuously not campaigning for the ruling coalition. Many younger generations have never known another prime minister and the older generation still have a good deal of respect for him. Ever since his venomous attacks started in 2006, in which he lashed out that Abdullah Badawi was not his first choice as successor and that the ill-starred Deputy Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, himself under fire for corruption, was better qualified, the prime minister has lost headway.
Mahathir has charged that his successor was mismanaging the economy and railed against the influence of Abdullah's family members, in particular his son-in-law, Khairy Jamaluddin. The former premier's attacks appear to be cutting into the prime minister's support. Grumblings also stem from the perception especially among the Chinese business community that the Malaysian economy is stagnant despite the strong official figures. On the ground, although campaigning is in full swing, it appears that some urban voters may have already made up their minds to teach the Barisan a lesson. The general feeling extends across middle-class professionals be they Malay, Chinese or Indian, that Abdullah Badawi has failed in keeping his 2004 electoral manifesto and ideals. More so, Mahathir again dealt a heavy blow when he said it was impossible for UMNO and the Barisan Nasional to reform itself and that it was up to the electorate to do the job. Abdullah Badawi may be counting on traditional party loyalists and support from rural folk who are enjoying better wages thanks to the
boom in commodities, especially palm oil.
The time where a candidate could win just by the strength of the party symbol still holds in many safe constituencies. But many others formerly thought to be safe are now demanding to see candidates' credentials. Furthermore, unlike in the 1999 elections, when Chinese and Indian voters stepped in to shore up the Barisan, non-Malay support does not seem forthcoming. S. Samy Vellu, the president of the MIC, has come under intense fire with calls for his resignation for his alleged failure to advance the Indian community. The Chinese community may also take the opportunity to vent their anger with MCA over what is the party's failure to stand up to what were deemed as racist acts when UMNO youth leaders in the widely-televised 2005 UMNO General Assembly, particularly Hishammuddin Hussein Onn, son of Malaysia's third prime minister and UMNO youth chief, waved a Malay dagger or Keris during his speech and threatened to bathe it in Chinese blood. Malaysian Chinese took offence to that act. The MCA is also weakened as it wallows in internal strife with various factions fighting for influence and positions. The combination of these factors and more have heartened the opposition. Although the Barisan Nasional will in the end continue its reign, if ever there was a threat to its power, by Malaysian standards anyway now is that time.