The annoucement by MCA President Liow Tiong Lai in Kluang yesterday of the nominations of Gan Ping Sieu and Chin Sim Lai as candidates for the Kluang parliamentary and Mengkibol state seats marks the beginning of the “Battle of Kluang” for the 14th General Election.
Today is Day 1 of a potentially very long “permanent campaign” of sorts, regardless of when the general election would be called.
As incumbents, Mengkibol’s Assemblyman Tan Hong Pin and I humbly welcome Gan and Chin’s nominations and the ensuing contests. We sincerely hope that the campaigns will help the people of Kluang, as well as Johoreans and Malaysians, to clarify issues, policies and directions.
Gan Ping Sieu and I maintain a very cordial private friendship. And Hong Pin and I respect Chin Sim Lai for his contribution as a teacher. We hope that the long ‘permanent campaign’ would not be about personal attacks but a campaign that would shape choices not just for Kluang but for Johor and Malaysia.
We hope our respected opponents would jointly run a model campaign for other contests to emulate.
In GE13, the Battle of Kluang and the Battle of Gelang Patah were national battles that help glavanise support for change and heralded Johor to become a frontline state.
Today, Johor is at the forefront of national change. If Johoreans vote for change overwhelmingly so Barisan National marginal seats in GE14 fall, Prime Minister Najib Razak and his kleptocratic coalition will lose the reins of government. The first change of government in Malaysian history depends hugely on how Johor votes.
And the early start of the Battle of Kluang will help set the pace and reignite hope for the national movement for change.
In the hope of shaping a campaign that focuses on issues, policies and directions, a public poll on Kluang by Merdeka Centre was commissioned between 4th and 8th August 2016.
402 Kluang voters were interviewed via telephone. Voters were selected through random stratified sampling method along the lines of ethnicity, gender, age and polling districts. The margin of error is estimated at 4.9%.
69% of Kluang voters interviewed in the survey are of the view that the country is heading towards the wrong direction. Significantly, more Malays think the country is heading towards the wrong direction (45% version 41% who chose “right direction).
70% of Kluang voters interviewed for the poll are NOT satisfied with the performance of the Federal Government. Notably, 56% Malays are not satisfied with the Federal Government while only 39% are satisfied.
Among government servants and GLC workers, who are conventionally deemed supportive of UMNO and Barisan Nasional, 61% are not satisfied with the Federal Government while only 32% are satisfied.
65% of Kluang voters are not satisfied with the performance of Prime Minister Najib Razak. Again, more Malays (50%) are not satisfied with Najib than those who are satisfied (42%).
And, among government servants and GLC workers, 45% are not satisfied with the performance of Najib, compared to 42% who are satisfied.
A similar poll on Kluang voters in February 2013 saw Najib positively rated at 59%. Among Malay voters in Kluang, 78% viewed Najib positively in February 2013 while 19% viewed him negatively. There has been a sea change of perceptions towards Najib in the past three years.
We are entering into a very new terrain. For the first time in history, more Malay voters in Kluang are not satisfied with the Federal Government and Najib.
If GE13 was the curtain raiser of bigger things to come, GE14 is the ultimate battle to decide whether Malaysia will be a better nation or one that gets closer to a failed state.