KUCHING: The mood seems to have changed in Chinese-dominated constituencies in the Sarawak polls, with thinner crowds at DAP ceramahs, unlike the big turnouts of the past.
This can be heartening for SUPP, the Chinese component of the state coalition, which lost ground to DAP in the 2006 and 2011 polls.
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak political commentator Dr Lee Kuok Tiung said more people were attending ceramahs by BN candidates.
“If you compare this and the last time, it is totally different. The crowds at DAP ceramahs are not so big as before and if you notice, the DAP will normally announce how much money they raised at ceramahs like in GE13, but they have not done that so far in this election.”
A Chinese community leader, who has been following the campaigning which began on Monday after nominations for the 82 seats at stake, also noted that the turnout for the opposition has dropped.
“The fervour has gone. After 10 years now, DAP is still talking of change. The party is telling the people to vote for real change this time, but how can you talk of real change when you don’t have two-thirds majority?” said Dr Chou Chi Ming, chairman of the Kuching Chinese Community Charitable Trust Board and immediate past president of the Federation of Kuching, Samarahan and Serian Divisions Chinese Association.
SUPP stood in 19 constituencies in 2011 but won only six. DAP took 12 Chinese-dominated areas for its best outcome at the polls.
The BN fight for the 15 urban seats this time concentrated in Kuching, Miri and Sibu rests on SUPP again and four direct candidates who left the party.
SUPP president Senator Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian, who lost in his 2011 debut in Pending, now contests Batu Kawah against DAP incumbent Christina Chew and independent Liu Thian Leong.
There is no doubt popular Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem will wrest another win for BN and closely watched is whether he will sway enough Chinese voters towards the BN to regain some urban constituencies.
Dr Lee predicts three to four Chinese seats will return to the BN.
“In 2011, the BN did not perform well in the urban areas because of two factors – the anti-Taib propaganda and internal conflict which led to sabotage within SUPP,” he said.
“Over the social media, lots of voters are in a dilemma over Dr Sim. They recognise Dr Sim as a nice person and in this remaining week, a lot will depend on how he pushes his message to the people.”
Tnay Li Ping is SUPP central woman advisor and she heads the party’s Batu Kitang operations room for Lo Khere Chiang who is in a five-way fight with DAP, PKR and independents.
“On May 7, the reality is that BN will win, but will we?” she asked in warming up the 100-odd Chinese crowd gathered at an open air community forum as more watched from coffee shops around the square.
“It’s been 10 years, this is a very, very important election that will shape our future for the next five and 50 years. One by one, Adenan has addressed issues that are important to us, so what are we waiting for?”
Dr Chou said voters are unlikely to be swayed by DAP’s campaign on GST and national issues, adding: “It’s no use, Sarawak people care more for local issues and their welfare in the state.”
SUPP challenger Wilfred Yap Yau Sin, who is standing against DAP state chief Chong Chieng Jen in Kota Sentosa, said the state election is the place to debate Federal issues .
“When you talk of Federal issues, you really want to raise it in Parliament. This is an election to our August House, that is the Sarawak state assembly,” he said.