THERE was a good crowd for DAP’s opening night ceramah in an area of Kuching famous for its hawker food and reflexology outlets.
The big-name speaker that evening was DAP leader Lim Kit Siang, but the elderly man was seriously eclipsed by Violet Yong, the popular Pending assemblywoman who has grown into a confident and animated speaker.
Yong, who is famous for her glamorous hairdos and penchant for ending her speeches with a song, had the crowd totally entertained.
Describing Tan Sri Adenan Satem as a “new broom that sweeps clean”, she told the crowd they needed to support DAP to ensure that Adenan would continue to deliver what they wanted. It was a back-handed compliment to the Chief Minister and the changes he has brought with him.
DAP is still riding high in the Chinese seats in Kuching city but there is something very different about the DAP election campaign this time around. Peh Mor, as the silver-haired Tun Taib Mahmud is known by the Chinese, was the lightning rod in the 2011 election.
The DAP campaigning often thrives on hate and ridicule and Taib’s political exit has left the party floundering.
Moreover, Adenan has defused most of the issues of the day leaving the opposition little to harp on.
DAP has been forced to fall back on attacking the Prime Minister and his wife. It works but only to a certain extent because it takes a truly Sarawak issue to fire up the locals.
In 2011, said Sibu financier Dr Gregory Hii, the Chinese had made up their minds even before the election was called. This time around, some of them are still weighing their options.
As a result, two of the five Chinese seats in the Kuching city area may not necessarily fall to DAP.
Batu Kawah and Batu Kitang are being closely fought. Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, president of the Chinese dominant party in Barisan Nasional, is vying for Batu Kawah against DAP’s Christina Chiew and independent Liu Thian Leong.
In Batu Kitang, SUPP’s Lo Khere Chiang is up against DAP’s Abdul Aziz Isa, Voon Shiak Ni of PKR and two others.
Both contests are significant for different reasons. DAP is desperate to win Batu Kawah because slaying the SUPP president would be equivalent to beheading the general and finishing off SUPP.
Batu Kitang was supposed to be a PKR seat but, following disputes over several other seats, DAP decided to teach PKR a lesson by contesting in Batu Kitang.
The two parties are supposed to be partners but they are fighting each other in a total of six seats in the Sarawak election.
DAP politicians have poked fun at PKR getting disqualified in Pantai Damai because its candidate had a bankruptcy issue.
In Batu Sari, the PKR candidate did not show up and Barisan won unopposed. Sarawak is quite prone to such things although some joke that it was a case of willing buyer-willing seller.
The local vernacular Chinese paper See Hua Daily was spot on in its headline: Artillery shooting in all directions.
Pakatan Harapan has failed to take off in Sarawak.
DAP is taking a big risk by putting Abdul Aziz in Batu Kitang although some think it will not have much impact on the Chinese because the rocket is still in their dreams.
Others say that DAP is taking the Chinese support for granted.
“They think the Chinese vote is theirs forever. The outcome may be like in Teluk Intan,” said a Chinese property developer.
DAP fielded Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud in the Teluk Intan by-election and lost to Gerakan.
Batu Kawah and Batu Kitang are among the hot seats to watch in the polls. The rivalry between DAP and PKR has been simmering for some time and it has finally boiled over.
The DAP-PKR face-off may involve only a few seats in the election but the ripples will spread beyond Sarawak.
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