Tough fight for Karpal Singh, son in Malaysian pollsMarch 2nd, 2008 - 12:32 pm ICT by admin
Kuala Lumpur, Mar 2 (IANS) One of the most prominent Indian origin families in Malaysia’s politics is fighting hard to retain its strongholds in the run-up to the 12th general election. Lawyer-lawmaker Karpal Singh, 68, contesting the Bukit Gelugor parliamentary seat he won by a narrow margin of 1,261 votes in the 2004 elections, is facing a tough challenge from Koay Kar Huah of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA).
Karpal Singh is chairman of the Democratic Action Party (DAP) that has following among all the major ethnic groups of Malaysia - Malays (over 60 percent), Chinese (32 percent) and Indians (about eight percent).
The DAP is contesting 46 parliamentary and 101 state assembly seats for which votes will be cast March 8.
Ethnic Chinese Koay, 61, is a central committee member of the MCA, a constituent of the ruling coalition Barisan Nasional. Koay had defeated Karpal Singh’s son, Jagdeep Singh Deo, for the same seat in the 1999 general election.
The contest this time is seen by many as one pitting a man who is taking on the father after beating the son although he faces a more daunting task this time, The New Straits Times said Sunday.
Karpal Singh has described the seat as having sentimental values to him as he first won it as a state legislature seat and served as assemblyman from 1978 to 1999.
In 2004 parliamentary poll, he beat Barison Nasional’s Lim Boo Chang with a majority of 1,261 votes.
However, the politician, who is referred to as the “Lion of Jelutong” among Penangites, is in for a tough fight this time, as Koay is known to create major upsets.
While Karpal Singh needs little introduction among the constituents, Koay is no newcomer either. Both are seniors facing the age factor going by the Malaysian political standards.
Although both have indicated that this would not be their last election, Koay will be 66 when the next general election is held while Karpal Singh would have turned 73.
“I am not like Karpal (Singh). Where is he when the people need him? He is hardly around. I am always there for the people and I believe I can make a difference,” Koay was quoted as saying.
Karpal Singh defends his absence from the constituency.
“The days of the jaga long-kang (taking care of drains) MPs are gone. People expect their MPs to raise issues of importance in parliament,” says Singh.
“What is the use of being an MP if you don’t raise anything in parliament?” asks Karpal Singh.
He has also been appearing in various courts to seek freedom for the detained leaders of the controversial Hindu Rights Action Force (Hindraf).
M. Manoharan, also a lawyer and Hindraf organizer, now in jail under the stringent Internal Security Act 9ISA), is contesting a parliamentary seat from jail on DAP nomination.
Karpal Singh has four sons. There was speculation that he might field two of them this time. But he has fielded one, lawyer-son Govind Singh Deo, 35, from Puchong parliamentary seat.
True to his role in the opposition, Karpal Singh is eyeing ethnic votes that have traditionally gone to Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), a Barison Nasional constituent, both at parliamentary and state assembly levels.
For instance, he has fielded a woman in Sabai state assembly segment, after his men from DAP failed to bag it.
D. Kamache, a teacher, is taking on two-term Barison Nasional incumbent, M. Davendran, an ethnic Indian.
The DAP hopes she can win over the 1,837 Indians voters who make up 19.4 percent of the total electorate. “As a woman, I believe I have a better understanding of the plight of disadvantaged groups, such as single mothers and the elderly,” Kamache told The New Straits Times.