Monday, May 17, 2010

Mee Kampua Sedap la

Sure, it wasn’t the most convincing and emphatic win for the DAP in Sibu. But unlike the Hulu Selangor by-election where Pakatan actually came out not looking as badly bruised as most people initially assumed, the same cannot be said of UMNO/BN in Sibu.

Despite the razor thin margin of victory, the outcome in Sibu was a reminder to all that Pakatan is still very much a force to contend with. Indeed, some might say that since UMNO (yes, not MIC) took Hulu Selangor and Pakatan/DAP carried Sibu, the two essentially swapped seats that the other camp previously held. This picture is obvious enough for anyone to see. But a close look at the bigger picture bodes well for Pakatan.

Sibu – much like the Hulu Selangor seat prior to 2008 – was a BN/UMNO stronghold. To go into such areas and yet be highly competitive – let alone win - is a reminder that the political landscape cannot be taken for granted anymore as it once was by UMNO. Yes, it is nice for the opposition to celebrate wildly with the capture of Sibu, and the hurt from the loss of Hulu Selangor was likewise quite painful.

Focusing on the bigger picture, however, suggests that the win in Sibu and even the loss in Hulu Selangor, together bode well for Pakatan.

For one, it shows that in both places - where, by the way, there is a substantial Chinese presence - UMNO is finding it hard to hold on to these voters. The fact that UMNO had to sign big cheques in Hulu Selangor and send out their ATM machines to get a chunk of the vote means they’re having to dig deeper to try to coax voters. And looks like Najb’s promises to sign a huge cheque for Sibu, while it might have lured and tempted many to “sell” their vote to BN, still did not deliver the seat for him. So the bottom line is that both in Sibu and Hulu Selangor, not only UMNO cannot take the voters for granted anymore, it is also finding out that trying to buy favours is also not working too well! 

This is perhaps as crucial a development as winning the Sibu seat itself. While I can see that many in Pakatan would have been deeply disappointed, as they were in Hulu Selangor, had they lost in Sibu by the same slim margin as they won, it really would not have been as bad as many may have thought. Remember that Sibu has been one seat where in the last election DAP got thrashed by over three thousand votes!  

Together, these signs are very encouraging for Malaysian politics. Aside from seeing more real competition for UMNO, voters are expecting more from UMNO than merely the shallow assurance of money to entice and coerce them. People are clearly interested in what UMNO represents and less on how big a cheque UMNO promises to write for voters. And frankly, many are realising that there is not much there to chew on or savour once you look closely at what UMNO is serving up to the voters. And perhaps most critically, a disproportionate number of Chinese voters in UMNO/BN strongholds are steadily and surely realising that UMNO’s menu serves up more heartburn and indigestion than is worth the price.

To this, I say thank you Ibrahim Ali. Thank you Perkasa. And thank you to all the bigots. These people are indeed great for reminding us why, far from being appetising, UMNO’s menu actually gives us nothing but an upset belly.

On the other hand...

Burp. Oh, my goodness; please excuse me, but I couldn’t help myself.

This Kampua Mee sure is delicious.

G. Krishnan