Land, water to igure in GE13
Writer: Brenda Ch'ng
Published: Fri, 29 Mar 2013
FOR the first time in Malaysian history, since the General Election in May 1969, a major change shocked the people of Malaysia when Barisan Nasional (BN) was denied a two-thirds parliamentary majority on March 8, 2008.
This wave of change yielded the worst result in BN history where they won 4.08 million votes while the opposition won 3.79 million votes.
The opposition, comprising PKR, DAP and PAS and later known as Pakatan Rakyat (PR), lost by some 290,000 votes.
Besides their traditional stranglehold in the Dewan Rakyat, BN lost five states – Selangor, Perak, Penang, Kedah and Kelantan.
In Selangor, Pakatan Rakyat captured 36 seats out of 56 leaving BN with 20 seats, which mainly encompasses the outskirt areas like Morib, Tanjong Sepat, Sungai Panjang and Sungai Air Tawar.
In the 2004 General Election BN had 54 out of the 56 seats in the Selangor legislative assembly.
Despite Selangor being a BN stronghold for decades, voters swung from BN to the three opposition parties, leaving the state government in PR’s hands.
Among the four BN component parties, Gerakan and MIC fared the worst, with both losing all the seats they contested in.
Gerakan lost all four – Teratai, Bukit Gasing, Bukit Lanjan and Kota Alam Shah, while MIC only contested in three and lost all of them in Sri Andalas, Bukit Melawati and Batu Caves.
Meanwhile, MCA only managed to win two out of the 13 seats it contested which is Kuala Kubu Baru and Sungai Pelek.
Umno was the top winner in BN, grabbing 18 out of the 26 seats it contested in.
Pakatan Rakyat on the other hand saw DAP winning 13 out of the 15 seats it contested in, PAS eight out of 20 and PKR 15 out of the 20 seats it fought in.
DAP and PKR won in most of the urban areas they contested in.
For example, in urban areas like Subang Jaya, Bukit Gasing and Bukit Lanjan, these seats saw the opposition party gaining a majority of more than half.
Though its candidates like Hannah Yeoh (Subang Jaya), and Elizabeth Wong (Bukit Lanjan) were new to the political arena but they won over other candidates from MCA and Gerakan respectively.
They were not the only new faces in the political scene as joining them were 23 other new candidates including former corporate figure Menteri Besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim (PKR) who contested in the Ijok seat against Mohamed Sayuti Said (Umno) and won by a majority of 1,920 votes.
Another new face who contested and became the talk of the town was PAS member Ahmad Idzam Ahmad who contested in the Seri Serdang seat against incumbent Datuk Mohamad Satim Diman and lost by a mere 45 votes.
This would be an interesting seat to look out for in the upcoming General Election.
Temples and broom
Looking back, one of the issues which is said to have caused the swing of Indian voters from BN to the opposition parties was the demolition of the decade-old Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Kampung Rimba Jaya, Padang Jawa.
The temple was demolished just a few days before Deepavali in November 2007 by the then state government because it stood in the way of development.
Shah Alam City Council (MBSA) demolished it because the temple stood in the way of the Rimba Jaya village which was cleared for development under BN’s zero-squatter programme.
The temple was rebuilt in 2011 by the present state government near the Padang Jawa KTM commuter station, about 500 metres from its original location.
The demolition subsequently drew protests from the Hindu community nationwide, leading to the historic Hindraf (Hindu Rights Action Force) rally in 2007 and subsequent loss of support for BN.
Hindraf began as a coalition of 30 Hindu non-governmental organisations (NGOs) committed to preserving the rights of the Hindu committee, and brought about a major impact to the political arena here.
Before the demolition in 2007, Hindraf had also protested the demolition of a 60-year-old suburban temple that served more than 1,000 Hindus and also the Malaimel Sei Selva Kaliamman Temple in Kuala Lumpur.
Fighting to no avail, a rally was staged on November 2007 where about 20,000 protesters were said to have gathered near the Petronas Twin Towers.
Roadblocks were set up and police officers were there on the scene using tear gas and water cannon to disperse the crowds, with over 100 people arrested.
Similar to this, on Nov 10, 2007, the first Bersih rally took to the streets for the first time, gathering about 30,000 to 40,000 protesters.
This rally was said to have given a jolt to most Malaysians right before the 12th General Election, demanding for a clean, fair and free election.
Many say that this rally contributed to BN’s electoral setback, although Perak which was initially won by the opposition was subsequently retaken by BN.
Apart from this, former Menteri Besar Dr Mohd Khir Toyo further angered civil servants by giving out a broom as an award to two underperforming local councils in November 2007.
The “broom award” was presented to the Hulu Selangor District Council (MDHS) and the land office for their failure to meet the stipulated 50% mark in assessment collections for 2006.
Despite protests over his actions, he reportedly argued that the broom is just a symbol to get the message across, and that giving a broom being a bad omen is just an old wives tale.
Even so, civil servants still saw this gesture as demeaning and affected their customary support for BN.
“Cheap” land given away
Heading into the GE13, several questionable land deals, which have been highlighted by PR, will impact on voters.
Millions in profit were made through contentious land deals in the solar valley Science Park 2, between opposition leader Satim Diman and a private developer.
The 80 acres of land, which were allocated to the Selangor Agricultural Development Corporation (PKPS) by the state at no cost, was resold for over RM19.2 million
In February this year, another land flip was revealed in Subang Jaya where a former Umno assemblyperson had obtained a piece of 5,000 sq ft state land for only RM2 per sq ft in USJ3 in 2001.
State documents showed that the former Khir Toyo administration had approved the sale of 99 plots of land in USJ3, for between RM8,000 to RM19,000 to him and other MCA politicians on Feb 20, 2001.
Apart from exposing land deals, Selangor has also halted the controversial Dolomite Park Avenue condominium project near Batu Caves to protect the environment and for public safety.
The project was a mere 120 metres away from the iconic Lord Murugan statue in Batu Caves, which led to protests from devotees on Oct 26 last year.
This controversial development was said to have been endorsed at the Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) full board meeting in 2007 despite objections from the Selangor Department of Environment (DOE).
They did not support the development due to its potential to “create landslides and other problems”.
Devotees and residents have been protesting and demanding for the project to be scraped since them.
Meanwhile, Selangor also introduced the Private Residential Ownership Scheme in June 2011 where residential property owners need only pay RM1,000 to secure land titles or renew their leases for 99 years instead of the normal hefty premiums of RM250,000 or more.
This scheme is meant to help home owners, especially settlers who have been holding on to Temporary Occupation of Land (TOL) licences for decades.
Another issue expected to influence voters is the overdrawn takeover of Selangor’s water assets.
The endless back and forth between the state, water concessionaires and Putrajaya is still not settled as the federal government remains non-committal over Selangor’s offer to break the deadlock over restructuring the fragmented and ailing water service industry.
Selangor announced its third offer of RM9.65 billion in February this year to take over the four companies to restructure the water industry.
The four companies are Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas), Puncak Niaga Sdn Bhd, Konsortium Abass Sdn Bhd (Abass) and Syarikat Pengeluar Air Sungai Selangor Sdn Bhd (Splash).