KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 3 — Penang Barisan Nasional (BN) is sure of winning at least 18 seats and eyeing five more in Election 2013, with sources saying its Chinese New Year celebration in the Han Chiang school field will further boost its chances of winning the state.
The Han Chiang grounds was the venue of a mammoth rally by DAP and its allies during the Election 2008 campaign, and seen as its hallowed ground but BN sources say there have been “winds of change for Chinese voters” over the past two years.
“The fact that the 1 Malaysia Penang CNY Open House is held at Han Chiang also signifies the increased strength of Barisan National in Penang from underdog to now a serious contender.
“Parties that have been close allies with Pakatan and DAP, such as the influential individuals behind Han Chiang, are now swinging towards BN, feeling that the Chinese ground, especially in Penang has shifted for new dynamic breed of politicians led by Teng Chang Yeow,” a Penang BN source told The Malaysian Insider, referring to the state coalition chief.
The Malaysian Insider understands that several surveys carried out by BN show the coalition having a firm 18 out of the 40 state seats with another five seats going either to BN or the current Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government.
“So, the state is up for grabs, which may signal the winds of change on turnout and Han Chiang’s shift in position,” the source added.
The Malaysian Insider learnt that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak is due to spend the first two days of Chinese New Year in Penang, the key manufacturing and tourism hub now ruled by PR.
The Penang BN Chinese New year celebration will feature South Korean rap sensation Psy, who will backed up by an all-South Korean dance group to belt out his viral global and Malaysian hit, “Gangnam Style.”
The song debuted on the YouTube video-sharing site in July 2012 and has racked up at least 1.29 billion views. World leaders from President Barack Obama to United Nation secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon have followed the singer in his horse-style dance performed in the video.
But the Penang BN sources say the venue of the celebrations hold a bigger significance than the appearance of Psy, or Park Jae-Sang.
Parties that have been close allies with Pakatan and DAP, such as the influential individuals behind Han Chiang, are now swinging towards BN. — Penang BN source
“Han Chiang has been Pakatan Rakyat and DAP’s stronghold for fund raising and rallies and is infamous for the 2008 catalyst rally which caused the Chinese wave of voters to swing to Pakatan Rakyat and DAP,” said another source.
He pointed out that Tan Sri Tan Kok Ping, a key figure behind the Han Chiang school, has been seen as a close ally of Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng and has allowed PR fund raisers at the school grounds.
“The fact that Najib is spending two days on the first and second day of Chinese New Year in Penang sends a strong message to the Chinese that he is serious about being a prime minister with the hearts and minds of the Chinese.
“It is also auspicious given that it’s the first day of the CNY,” he added.
The Penang BN Chinese New Year celebrations are seen as its major push for votes ahead of Election 2013, which must be held by this June
The Penang government has said it will dissolve its assembly when Najib decides to call elections this year. The Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) government mandate expires on May 2, four days after BN’s federal government mandate ends.
Najib has hinted that elections are near with his Umno party having ordered all branches to open their operations rooms from February 1.
Some 13.3 million voters are registered to cast their ballots in the next elections, for a total of 222 federal seats and 505 state seats in 12 states and three federal territories. Sarawak held its state elections last year.