Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Ramkarpal riding on dad’s legacy

Ram Karpal
GEORGE TOWN: The Bukit Gelugor parliamentary by-election looks like a straight-forward victory for 38-year-old DAP debutant Ramkarpal Singh Deo, following the withdrawal of Barisan Nasional from the contest.

Ramkarpal, backed by the formidable DAP election machinery should romp home with an easy win.
His opponents are Parti Cinta Malaysia (PCM) vice-president Huan Cheng Guan, 53, and independent candidates Mohamed Nabi Bux Mohamed Abdul Sathar, 63, and Abu Backer Sidik Mohamad Zan, 46,.

Of the three rivals, Ramkarpal competition should come from Huan, formerly Gerakan vice-president, state BN youth chief and Batu Kawan MP.
Compared with Huan, Ramkarpal is an untried politician.
His political credentials are boosted by his family background, with his father the late Karpal Singh, a DAP strongman, who has the support of the Chinese community.
Ramkarpal’s elder brothers Jagdeep and Gobind are Datuk Keramat assemblyman and Puchong MP respectively.
These reasons are enough for Ramkarpal to win hands down.
Huan on the other hand is a seasoned politician and fared well in his previous stint as MP.
Penang, which is led by the DAP-led Pakatan Rakyat government, is a sure winner against BN in a Chinese-majority seat.
The DAP campaign is expected to portray Huan and the other two independents as BN-backed candidates to woo the Chinese votes.
Bukit Gelugor has 84,000 voters comprising 75% Chinese, 15% Malays and 10% Indians.
The parliamentary constituency, which is sandwiched in between federal seats of Bayan Baru, Balik Pulau, Bukit Bendera and Jelutong, fell vacant after Karpal was killed in a car crash on the North-South Highway near Kampar last month.
Ramkarpal, who was travelling with his father, escaped with minor injuries.
In the 2013 general election, Karpal won by a majority of 41,778 votes against Barisan Nasional candidate Teh Beng Yeam.
Ramkarpal is confident that he could match or better his father’s majority with the help of DAP and Pakatan leaders but he cautioned party supporters not to be complacent.
Huan had declared himself as an underdog, hoping that he would garner enough votes not to lose his deposit.
But his campaign team is quietly confident that Huan could garner more than 15,000 votes to reduce DAP’s majority.
Bukit Gelugor is an urban seat with the Chinese business community forming the majority.
But Huan’s team believes that with the tacit support from MCA and BN grassroots leaders, Malay and Indian voters, the PCM can dent Ramkarpal’s majority.
Two more factors that could dampen Ramkarpal’s majority would be the Teluk Intan by-election and next week’s state assembly sitting, which may divert the focus of DAP leaders.
Huan’s campaigners predict that their man can chip away some Chinese votes from the DAP.
Moreover, observers predict a lower voter turnout on polling day due to Ramkarpal’s expected win and MCA’s pullout and this can reduce the DAP man’s majority.
Nabi Bux and Abu Backer are said to be only making up the numbers.
Both depended on Malay votes and observers believe the independents will lose their deposits.
At the moment, BN looks likely to back Huan while most Chinese voters as usual will back the DAP.
Indian impact will be insignificant in this federal constituency, which has been Karpal and DAP’s fortress since 2004.
Karpal was also Bukit Gelugor assemblyman between 1978 and 1986 when the constituency was then a state seat under Jelutong parliamentary constituency.
Karpal is such a household name in Bukit Gelugor that posters and banners with Karpal’s picture were already up during DAP’s announcement of Ramkarpal’s candidature last week and on nomination day.
More of the election campaign paraphernalia is expected to be up across the constituency during the 13-day campaign period.
Naturally, Ramkarpal is riding on his father’s political legacy to retain his family seat comfortably.
His only challenge is to match or better his father’s stunning majority.