Ethnic Chinese woo Indian voters in Malaysian polls

March 4th, 2008 - 3:59 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, March 4 (IANS) Two ethnic Chinese candidates for the Bukit Bintang parliamentary seat are trying hard to woo the Indian community, whose 11 percent presence could swing the vote either way. Up against his long-time rival Fong Kui Lun of the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) who had defeated him in 1999, ruling coalition Barisan Nasional’s (BN) nominee Lee Chong Meng has secured the services of Tamil leader V.M. Gunasekaran.

Lee is the candidate of the Malaysian Chinese Association (MCA). Gunasekaran heads the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) unit in the constituency.

MIC is the largest party of 2.5 million ethnic Indians, constituting roughly eight percent of the Malaysian population of 27 million, while MCA speaks for the 33 percent Chinese. Both MCA and MIC are constituents of the BN.

Gunasekaran speaks in Tamil to get Lee’s message across to 7,000 Indian voters, giving an edge to the contest that has been dubbed in the Chinese language media as one between Spiderman and Superman.

Lee is the Spiderman, while Superman Fong draws comfort from the purported dissatisfaction of the Indian community, hoping to garner votes from Brickfields where the majority of his Indian constituents live.

But a majority of the Indians there voted for BN in the last two elections, The New Straits Times noted Monday.

“Rubbish remains uncollected, drains get clogged, floods occur and hundreds of Indians are stranded without birth certificates and identity cards,” said Lee, who has been servicing the constituency for the past 15 years.

There is a likely quid pro quo. Fondly called Doctor Ayam, Lee has also promised to appoint Gunasekaran as Indian affairs officer in his service centre if he wins.

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