Barisan Nasional

DAP suffers loss at Teluk Intan by-election (update 3): Zairil Dyana decry gutter politics

24 October 2014. A gutter post-script?
Intimate ‘photos’ of DAP’s Zairil, Dyana go viral Published: 19 October 2014; "Two DAP politicians have termed photos of themselves allegedly in intimate poses “gutter politics at its lowest”. The alleged pictures of Bukit Bendera MP Zairil Khir Johari and Teluk Intan by-election candidate Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud surfaced this morning and has been making its rounds on social media..."
Zairil Khir Johari: Why I joined DAP By Shazwan Mustafa Kamal Published: 25 January 2011; "Zairil said he chose the DAP because it shared ‘common goals’ with what his late father had looked for in the ‘old’ Umno. — Pictures by Jack OoiKUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25 — A year ago, Zairil Khir Johari’s only association with politics would be his father — the late Tan Sri Mohd Khir Johari, Umno stalwart, former education minister and who served three prime ministers including the late Tunku Abdul Rahman. Over the past few months, however, Zairil’s name has been the talk of the town, namely through opposition blogs as well as anti-Pakatan Rakyat (PR) blogs over his appearance at the coalition’s last convention in Kepala Batas, where he was a guest speaker. His retractors have accused him of being a “traitor” and “anti-Malay” for abandoning his late father’s party and choosing to become a part of the DAP — a party which is still feared by many Malays and considered to be pro-Chinese due to its majority Chinese membership...."
5 June 2014. Interview: Wong Chen on electoral politics in rural Malaysia and Teluk Intan

Q: Teluk Intan; what is your take on the semi-urban and rural voters?

First off, I wasn’t in Teluk Intan for the by-election. So my comments here are mostly based on news and feedback from politicians who were there. I also speak from my experience campaigning in rural Bentong, Pahang. 

I spent a year and half, from 2011 to 2012, working the ground. Bentong is about one hour north of Kuala Lumpur by highway. This is a semi-urban and rural constituency with similar demographics to Teluk Intan, with 47% Chinese voters, 42% Malay voters, 8% Indian voters and 3% Orang Asli voters. It is a large parliamentary seat with four state seats (DUNs) and several FELDA settlements. The bulk of the Chinese are in Bentong town along with a sizeable Malay population of civil servants. In addition there were also a lot of small rural Chinese villages. Indians were mostly living in rubber estates and in towns.
I campaigned everywhere, getting to know the imams, village heads, estate workers, Chinese local tai-kors. I organised friendly football games to get to know the youth in the Felda settlements. This attracted the entire village to come out to watch the game. I also attended weddings and funerals. I like to believe that I got to know the social structure of the place quite well. The first six months was exploratory and I fumbled around, but subsequently the villagers believed that I was there for the long haul and started to welcome my visits..............

Click here for more... /khoryuleng/2014/06/interview-wong-chen-on-electoral.html

1 June 2014. I have spoken to several politicians, business people, political analysts and urban voters since my posting last evening (about 10 interviewees, by email, IM and face-to-face). Needless to say the topic is of high interest to many observers and specialists.
First of all, to note that the Chinese swing was -15% and Malay swing +3% for DAP at Teluk Intan. Thus, it turns out that both swings were worse than expected, especially the massive Chinese voter negative swing.
Some observers felt that the candidate's past Perkasa linkage (via her mother) and less than frank accounting of it was bad on credibility. Others point to the wider situation of the current disarray of the opposition with tussles over redistricting / redelineation and DAP expansionism, PKR party elections tainted by money politics and fraud, various Selangor problems and its Chief Minister Khalid facing credibility issues (over his getting a surprising sweetheart deal from BN in the form of a large loan forgiveness; contrasting heavily with other opposition senior leaders who just get accelerated negative court cases). PAS has been pushing hudud (flirting wth Umno in doing so) and Selangor state Islamic authorities actions have troubled the Christian community etc. One senior Chinese urban voter said that "people are slowly (asking) what is the difference between BN and PR. I guess people's expectation is that PR will take them out from the current BN (ruling style). May not be fair (to expect so much) but people are selfish."
Senior political experts who had visited or have knowledge of Teluk Intan felt that not enough had been done on the ground campaigning e.g. not enough posters / presence. It was confirmed that the DAP Perak machinery had not been well engaged - there was a reliance on KL urban volunteers. Some also noted PAS ground campaigning may not be as effective as expected[1].
Confusing multiple images of the candidate has also been questioned. Some also ask if the portrayal of Dyana may not have endeared her with women voters in general.
Note: contrast the two images (the conservative and the "BF shirt" looks).
The swing in Chinese voters to BN needs to be examined. Low voter turnout was the result of young people (working in major towns) not returning to vote in Teluk Intan. The 15%-age swing of Chinese votes was thus centered on older voters and is a political earthquake in opposition-land. This is what one observer from the Chinese business sector said: "Chinese voters are pragmatic, not idealistic.  Whoever becomes the MP for this one single constituency will have no national outcomes in the short term. However, voting BN gives immediate economic benefit to the community.PR (opposition coalition) does not understand this... hate or love them, the older Chinese in Malaysia are transient and economic beings. They have no idealism, and to them, freedom only stretches to opportunities to make money."
This highlights something else discussed among political specialists - that it made sense for the Chinese voters to send a strong message to the opposition on the issue of hudud and other electability issues at this point of the political cycle (GE 13 was in May 2013). Teluk Intan state representatives are already from the opposition and having a BN MP - promised to join the cabinet - would give them better leverage over both political coalitions and access to BN largesse. 
One young Chinese voter (from semi-urban but working in urban) noted his disappointment that the Chinese in Teluk Intan seemed unwilling to accept a young Malay girl; as it shows continued voting based on racial lines. He was not sure if the Chinese in his own semi-urban hometown would accept. Others noted that this was a first test by DAP of their ability in the semi-urban / rural sector with a Malay candidate (but this was not a fair test of DAP, given the negative surprise on their chosen candidate - likely they will have to tighten up a lot on background research).
A top political economist said: "This loss is upsetting but not shocking. We need to analyse the high number of spoilt votes and poor turnout. I see this as a rejection or disillusionment with both coalitions. To my mind, a key issue not discussed is the recent hudud controversy. PAS goofed up and this is the consequence - a swing in Chinese votes to the BN; and this possibly explains why the Indian swing to PR didn't happen as expected. I also think Dyana was a poor choice. In rural areas, local politics matter and in such a situation parachute candidates don't work."
Bottom-line: At a macro level, while the opposition won the popular vote in GE13, they have been in significant disarray since. They have hardly been operating together as a group of "winners." Instead, narrow interests seem to be prevailing - at party and personal levels. Some voters may be disappointed by the poor likelihood of change they seem to represent: a) being apparently unelectable, b) being "UMNO-light" and/or c) proving no challenge to the power of BN-UMNO incumbency. At a micro level, many question the problems in the political strategy and tactics of Teluk Intan. Looking ahead, a political analyst notes the Teluk Intan result should "trim back DAP hubris... (hopefully) opening room for the opposition coalition to rethink and regroup... with four years to recover for the next general election."
[1] In my research I've noted that specialists mentioning this. PAS and DAP are considered to have the most effective ground campaigning, but they are too restricted to their own different spheres i.e. DAP to Chinese and PAS to its supporters. It has been harder for them to reach beyond their loyal bases e.g. PAS has noted a particular problem in reaching out to women voters in the rural sector.
31 May 2014, 11.30pm posting:
So the expectations for DAP's Dyana to win Teluk Intan were off base. A decisive win was needed (as always). However, these win expectations were mostly made before the eleventh hour Perkasa-link revelations (Dyana's mother was a "pro-tem" member of Perkasa i.e. to propose its formation and registration). I hear some political analysts had earlier expected a 5% or so swing of Malay voters to benefit DAP, but were unsure of the Chinese vote impact. The outcome of the Chinese vote, was according to DAP a 10%-age swing away. This is a big swing figure.
Other than the Perkasa-linkage topic, I am hearing that key local DAP politicians had been disappointed that their preferred local boy aka "Superman" was passed over as a candidate. Thus, did the eleventh hour confusion over the aforementioned topic also affect morale of the electoral ground machine? Also, since the DAP Perak team was reportedly not united, the Teluk Intan strategy and campaign was run by Tony Pua and Ong Kian Ming, sent over from urban KL to this rural seat. They would decide on candidate image, posters etc. There were apparently some questions early on whether Dyana's liberal image would sit well with traditional Malay rural folk.
Many questions to be asked from this surprising loss of a seat. I'll keep an eye out and update this posting. The strategy for the Malay semi-urban and rural voters is considered key to the next general election. However, this shows that the Chinese voters should not be taken for granted.
Key factors to consider include the following:
  • candidate selection
  • candidate image
  • strategy
  • tactics
  • operations & logistics
DAP is an ethnically Chinese-dominated political party in the Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition. It is trying to be more inclusive of Malays, in order to expand its reach to Malay voters. DAP currently has 37 MPs (after the loss of Teluk Intan): 6 Indian, 2 Malay and 29 Chinese. PKR (Anwar Ibrahim's party) has 30 MPs: 4 Indian, 9 Chinese, 1 Kadazan, 16 Malay. PAS has 21 MPs: 21 Malay. 
News links:

DAP blames Teluk Intan defeat on low turnout, 10pc Chinese swing (VIDEO) May 31, 2014 - See more at:; DAP lost Teluk Intan due to a turnout of just 66.7 per cent, lower than the 80 per cent in Election 2013, party secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said today in early assessment of the by-election.... Lim also said there was a Chinese swing of 10 per cent to Barisan Nasional (BN), after unofficial results showed DAP candidate Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud losing to Gerakan president Datuk Mah Siew Keong by 238 votes. “The voter turnout dropped by 14 [percentage points], that’s 7,000 to 8,000 less voters compared to the previous general election,” Lim told a press conference at the DAP operations centre here today. DAP’s Seah Leong Peng had defeated Mah in the 13th general election last year by 7,313 votes. DAP secretary-general Lim said most of those who did not turn up on polling day were the largely pro-opposition outstation voters.... 

Item below was posted 27 May here, /khoryuleng/2014/05/political-news-on-anti-globalisation.html; and I reproduce it here...

Malaysia: Discovery that new young Malay candidate of the DAP (Chinese-controlled party in opposition coalition) has previously, while her mother was involved with Perkasa# helped out at this important ultra-right Malay nationalist group; Thus, her apparent swing from Perkasa to DAP is apparently a remarkable political epiphany. Here's an almost advertorial-looking piece on DAP's Dyana Sofya: with a super slick photo (below) to go with it. The Malaysia media has up till the Perkasa revelation been extremely good to her. Dyana Sofya: From UMNO supporter roots to DAP rising star (2013; Lim Kit Siang's political secretary): She is expected to win and become the new (opposition) MP for Teluk Intan, Perak. 
# "Perkasa is a non-governmental Malay supremacy organization that was formed by Ibrahim Ali in the aftermath of the Malaysian general elections in 2008. This conservative, extreme-right, ethnic Malay organisation is led by its president Ibrahim Ali, with Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, the former Prime Minister of Malaysia, as advisor. The group claims to have a membership of 420,000, though outsiders estimate the actual figure to be much lower. There are substantiated allegations that more than 60% of its membership consists of UMNO members." Accessed, 27 May 2014.