In an analysis today, the former three-term Selangor state lawmaker said the MCA could win a handful more federal seats if it played its cards right in the choice of candidates and seat selection, but added that the odds remained against the ruling coalition’s senior partner to recoup the losses it suffered five years ago in the 12th general election.
“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 five to 10 seats from the 15 they are now holding,” he said, and added, “Due to that, the net effect of the number of seats MCA will win will be around six to 13 seats only which is still below the 15 seats they currently have.”
Lee noted that in Election 2008, MCA had been bruised badly in contests with opposition candidates in Chinese majority constituencies, and was saved in areas where Malays formed the bulk of the electorate.
It won seven out of 23 parliamentary fights against the Chinese-dominated DAP, six out of 15 against PKR and 100 per cent in two seats against the Islamist PAS.
Another contributing factor to MCA’s losses then was the more than 60 per cent Indian vote swing away from the BN, he said.
“One can deduce therefore that MCA won with the support of Malay rather than Chinese votes,” said Lee, who was Subang Jaya assemblyman from 1995 until 2008.
The MCA veteran further noted that his party also faced internal challenges within the BN from Umno leaders, whom he said have acted or made statements that have not only alienated its Chinese voter base in their bid to play to the Malay gallery but pushed the nation’s second largest ethnic group into supporting the fledgling Pakatan Rakyat (PR) opposition pact.
“Najib’s recent overtures to the Chinese are too little or too late to reverse this downward support from the Chinese voters,” he said, referring to Prime Minister and BN chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
“Thus, the general expectation is that Chinese support for BN will be significantly worse than the last elections,” he added.
Even so, Lee said PR candidates should not be fooled into thinking it will coast through electoral battles against the MCA’s candidates.
He noted that voters will also be looking closely at the performance of PR incumbents in Parliament over the last five years and would not hesitate to drop those they found wanting.
He listed as examples Loh Gwo-Burne (PKR-Kelana Jaya), Dr Lee Boon Chye (PKR-Gopeng), Hee Loy Sian (PKR-Petaling Jaya Selatan), John Fernandez (DAP-Seremban), Sim Tong Him (DAP-Kota Melaka) and Er Teck Hwa (DAP-Bakri), who had narrowly won in the last elections and “hardly made a peep in Parliament and were not active in their constituencies” after.
“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,” Lee said.
He also said his party had picked up upon PR’s weaknesses in these two areas and were hoping to turn around their electoral fortunes by shifting MCA leaders like senator Datuk Donald Lim from his previous base in Petaling Jaya Selatan, which had a 40 per cent Malay vote base to Selayang, which has a 45 per cent Malay majority.
“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,” Lee said.