Malaysia

BN says confident of turnaround in Penang vote

March 21, 2013

Pakatan Rakyat leaders take a pledge at their recent convention in Penang. BN has an uphill task to make waves in the state. — Picture by K.E. OoiPakatan Rakyat leaders take a pledge at their recent convention in Penang. BN has an uphill task to make waves in the state. — Picture by K.E. OoiKUALA LUMPUR, March 21 — Given no chance of eating into Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) commanding position in Penang, Barisan Nasional (BN) now believes it can make waves on election day.

PR now controls 29 out of the 40 state seats in Penang, with Umno holding the remaining 11 constituencies. Gerakan and the MCA lost in all the seats they contested in 2008.

But The Malaysian Insider understands that BN is confident of pulling off an upset based on its own ground reports and a recent survey of voter sentiment by a non-governmental organisation.

The reports show BN leading in 14 Malay-majority seats, largely at the expense of PKR and PAS.

PAS is an incumbent in one seat, PKR in nine while DAP is currently holding 19 constituencies which are mainly in Chinese-majority areas.

But BN’s ground reports suggest that it has chance at snaring some DAP seats despite the prevailing anti-BN mood among Chinese voters throughout the country.

Some of the Chinese-majority seats BN thinks it can win are Padang Lalang, Pengkalan Kota, Bukit Tambun and Datok Keramat.

Datok Keramat, currently held by Jagdeep Singh Deo of the DAP, is a 58 per cent Chinese-majority seat with Malays making up 34 per cent and Indians 10 per cent of voters.

In Election 2008 Jagdeep only won the seat by a 1,855-vote majority. BN is confident of winning a majority of the Indian and Malay votes.

It would, however, be a surprise if BN can grab Padang Lalang, also held by the DAP, as the constituency is a 84 per cent Chinese-majority seat.

Pengkalan Kota, with a 95 per cent Chinese majority, is another seat that would need a major swing for BN to win.

Bukit Tambun, now held by PKR, is another Chinese-majority seat with voters from the community accounting for 70 per cent of voters.

The BN ground reports also suggest to the coalition’s strategists that it has an even chance of winning in Pulau Tikus, Jawi and Kebun Bunga.

Pulau Tikus, now held by the DAP, is a 79 per cent Chinese-majority seat, requiring a major turnaround from the community to see a BN win. But BN has taken heart from the fact that the DAP only won the seat by a 1,714-vote majority in 2008.

Jawi, another DAP seat, appears to be a more realistic target for BN, as the Chinese make up just 58 per cent of voters with Malays accounting for 22 per cent and Indians 20 per cent.

Kebun Bunga, held by PKR, would be a tough seat for BN as the constituency has a 78 per cent Chinese majority.

BN officials believe that PR’s decision to transfer out some of its stalwart candidates to other states like Johor would give the state opposition a fillip as the ruling pact is expected to put forward a number of relative unknowns in some seats.