Will MCA regain the 25 seats it lost in Election 2008? ― Lee Hwa BengMARCH 27 ― In the last general election, MCA contested 40 Parliament seats yet it won only 15. Out of the 40 seats, MCA was able to win only 7 (out of 23 contested seats) from DAP, six (out of 15 contested seats) from PKR and two (out of two contested seats) from PAS.
This shows MCA won mainly in mixed seats where there are fewer Chinese voters while it lost heavily in the Chinese majority seats.
One can deduce, therefore, that MCA won with the support of Malay rather than Chinese votes.
Another major contributing factor in MCA’s drastic loss was the significant reduction of support from Indian voters who were traditionally Barisan Nasional/MCA supporters (more than 80 per cent) but have since deserted the ruling coalition with less than 40 per cent of them voting for the ruling coalition in GE12.
As in my earlier articles, “Who will win the 13th General Election?” and “How will MCA fare in the 25 seats they won in the last election?”, I will provide the reader with background information and factors to consider for my latest question: “Will MCA be able to wrest any of the 25 seats they lost in the last elections?”
1) First and foremost, the most important factor to consider in making any prediction about MCA’s performance is Chinese sentiments towards BN in general and MCA in particular.
Unfortunately for MCA, Umno has already decided quite early on that Chinese voters will not return to BN. It has been said that it is due to Chinese voters’ negative perception of Umno, MCA’s poor leadership led by a scandal-tainted president and MCA’s inability to hold its own fort against Umno in the ruling coalition.
As a result, Umno’s initial strategy to win Malay and Indian votes and ignore Chinese votes has further alienated the Chinese from BN.
Statements and actions by Umno leaders to get more Malay voters have further pushed the Chinese voters towards supporting Pakatan Rakyat. The generous fund allocations to Indians and the additional ministerial spot for MIC confirm the fear of the Chinese that they have no future under the government of BN.
The public statements of Perkasa’s Ibrahim Ali as well as Ridhuan Tee Abdullah’s columns in Utusan Malaysia have exacerbated these fears.
Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s recent overtures to the Chinese are too little, too late to reverse this downward support from the Chinese voters. Thus, the general expectation is that Chinese support for BN will be significantly worse than the last election.
2) In 2008, Pakatan’s component parties and their individual candidates’ strengths were not known to the public. However, after these five years, voters’ perception of Pakatan and individual candidates will play a big part in voters’ choices.
Was Pakatan and their components’ performance good enough to change the public perception of them? As MCA will be contesting against DAP in at least 23 areas (based on the last elections), how do the Chinese view DAP?
Pakatan candidates cannot solely rely on the anti-BN sentiment to win this election. The performance of individual Pakatan incumbents will play a big role in voters’ decisions now that they are no longer unknowns in uncharted waters. Will Pakatan dare to drop under-performing or controversial incumbents?
Many Pakatan MPs like Lee Boon Chye in Gopeng, Loh Gwo Burne of Kelana Jaya, Hee Loy Sian of PJ Selatan, John Fernandez of Seremban, Sim Tong Him of Kota Melaka and Er Teck Hwa who won marginally in the last election hardly made a peep in Parliament and were not active in their constituencies.
If they are not dropped and MCA can put up strong candidates in these 11 seats, these seats have a potential for change. One such seat is Seremban, where MCA is expected to field Dr Yeow Chai Thiam, a strong and hard working grassroots leader.
Due to stronger Chinese support for Pakatan, MCA cannot expect to make many inroads into the other 25 seats where Pakatan had won with more than 60 per cent majorities as listed in table below.
3) In a MCA vs DAP seat, MCA will normally get more Malay votes than DAP. Hence, the percentage of Malay voters will be a very big factor. For example, in Kuantan where there are 60 per cent Malay and 36 per cent Chinese voters, a 70 per cent support from the Malays will have 42 per cent (70 per cent x 60 per cent) and only a 20 per cent vote from the Chinese will have seven per cent (20 per cent x 36 per cent) to give a total of 49 per cent.
Hence a sliver of Indian votes can carry the MCA candidate through to victory.
Therefore, we see MCA leaders like Donald Lim shifting from a 40 per cent Malay PJ Selatan seat to the 45 per cent Malay majority Selayang seat. Similarly Wangsa Maju and Bandar Tun Razak constituencies, which have more than 50 per cent Malay voters, are winnable if MCA can put up strong candidates.
4) Many people have commented that Indian votes are returning to BN since the last election, when 60-80 per cent of them voted for Pakatan. If BN is able to obtain back at least 50 per cent of the Indian votes, then the MCA seats which are composed of more than 15 per cent Indians and more than 40 per cent Malay voters such as Selayang, Kelana Jaya, PJ Selatan, Bayan Baru and Padang Serai can be winnable by MCA if strong candidates are put up.
5) As mentioned in the first point, the perception of Chinese voters of the current MCA leadership will have a significant impact on the result of these 25 seats. Will voters forgive and forget Chua Soi Lek’s sex scandal? Will the ongoing PKFZ trials of MCA former leaders impact voters? Will Chua Soi Lek’s past threat to opt out of the government if MCA obtains less than the current 15 seats influence the Chinese to vote for MCA candidates?
6) Pakatan has targeted all MCA seats as their most winnable seats and has forged DAP to be their best weapon against MCA in their aim to capture Putrajaya. As such, PKR has already announced the give-away of two of their seats, Bentong and Gelang Patah to DAP candidates to contest. I am sure in the other areas where MCA will face PKR and PAS, such arrangements will be considered.
My prediction is that MCA has a possibility of winning back one to three seats out of the 25 seats they have lost. On the other hand, I predict that MCA will lose at least 5 to 10 seats from the 15 they are now holding. Due to that, the net effect of the number of seats MCA will win will be around 6 to 13 seats only which is still below the 15 seats they currently have.
* Datuk Lee Hwa Beng is the former MCA state assemblyman for Subang Jaya (three terms from 1995-2008). He stood as the BN candidate for the Kelana Jaya parliamentary seat in 2008 and lost. He was later appointed Port Klang Authority chairman to investigate the PKFZ scandal from 2008 to 2011 and is the author of “PKFZ: A Nation’s Trust Betrayed.”