Felda and Felda settler news: shipping farmers into city on Sept 16? Poll: Sept 16 rally finds little traction among Malays. FGV shares rise as much as 30% yesterday amidst Najib economic-share market stimulus plan. Malaysia Day tomorrow, with "red shirt" rally

16 September 2015: Shipping 20,000 farmers into city on Sept 16? Poll: Sept 16 rally finds little traction among Malays

What’s your motive for shipping farmers into city on Sept 16? NGO asks Felda Monday September 14, 201511:00 AM GMT+8; National Felda Settlers Children Association (ANAK) president, Mazlan Aliman said the farmers had received a letter dated Friday informing them Felda would be ferrying them into the national capital in Jalan Conlay for an event on September 16 to kick off at 11am called  “Himpunan Warga Felda Sempena Hari Malaysia”.... However, a sceptical Mazlan demanded Felda general manager Datuk Hanapi Suhada explain the purpose of holding an event in the city on the same day as a similarly-named rally called “Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu” organised by Malay martial arts group Persekutuan Silat Kebangsaan Malaysia (Pesaka). “What does it mean ‘Assembly that represents the unity and togetherness of Felda settlers’ along with the attendance of organisations and non-governmental organisations?” Mazlan asked in his Facebook page yesterday. “Is it related to the ‘Red Shirts’ rally that will be held on the same day?” he questioned further, and demanded Felda also clarify if it was using the land authority’s public funds to bus in farmers for the event.... Mazlan said that if the event was related to the rally, it should be cancelled immediately as Felda needed to focus on handling the settlers’ well-being and not drag them to an event that will be harmful to them.... Felda will be sending about 20,000 settlers from various states in 500 buses to Kuala Lumpur on September 16 for their event....

Poll: Sept 16 rally finds little traction among Malays Published Today 3:38 pm     Updated Today 4:58 pm; The ‘Himpunan Rakyat Bersatu’ rally has found little traction among Malay voters, according to independent pollster Merdeka Centre. This is despite the rally being touted as a gathering to uphold Malay dignity and to counter the predominantly Chinese Bersih 4, which saw participants stomping on images of Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak and PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang. A telephone survey by Merdeka Centre showed that only 24 percent of respondents supported the rally. Of these, eight percent expressed strong support, while 16 percent of respondents expressed some support.

15 September 2015: FGV shares rise as much as 30% yesterday amidst Najib economic-share market stimulus plan. Malaysia Day tomorrow, with "red shirt" rally

Najib’s economic stimulus lifts stocks   By Esther Lee / digitaledge Daily   | September 15, 2015 : 9:14 AM MYT; The promise of a RM20 billion injection into ValueCap Sdn Bhd was a positive for investors, which will then be used to invest in undervalued Malaysian companies. To give some context, RM20 billion represents about 2% of the KLCI’s market capitalisation of RM944.21 billion as at yesterday’s close. Established in 2002, ValueCap is an equity investment firm that is owned by Khazanah Nasional Bhd, Kumpulan Wang Persaraan (Diperbadankan) and Permodalan Nasional Bhd....

Felda gets UMA query on share price surge Published: 14 September 2015 9:01 PM Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) has been issued an unusual market activity (UMA) query by Bursa Malaysia Securities Bhd, after the sudden sharp rise in its share price today. FGV's counter rose as high as 30% to trade at RM1.65 today. The stock has been on a slide since early this year, plunging to its historical low of RM1.19 on August 26. - See more at:

No marching allowed for ‘red shirt’ rally at 3 spots, says Zahid BY RAM ANAND Published: 15 September 2015 12:16 AM - See more at:
BN parties agree to disagree on ‘red shirt’ rally, says Najib BY RAM ANAND Published: 15 September 2015 12:01 AM | Updated: 15 September 2015 7:08 AM - See more at:

7 September 2015: Felda stronghold helps Najib's grip on power, What’s 20,000? Felda settlers alone can top Bersih 4 turnout - Najib says

Felda stronghold maintain Najib’s grip on power BY RAM ANAND Published: 6 September 2015 8:55 AM....  Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak's claim that he could easily muster thousands of settlers under a rural plantation scheme to rival the crowds at the Bersih 4 rally could well be true when it comes to Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) settlers in his own constituency of Pekan, in Pahang. Pekan's eight Felda settlements are home to some 16,000 registered voters. At one visited by The Malaysian Insider recently, Felda Chini, the prevailing sentiment is one of gratitude to Najib's father, second prime minister Tun Abdul Razak Hussein, who set up the scheme which gave thousands impoverished rural folk land, homes and a second chance at life..... Pekan Umno division committee member, Abdul Rahim Yahya, is one such person. "We grew up knowing only hardship. Then we came here, and we had land to work on, we became settlers, we could live a decent life," Rahim, a Felda settler, told The Malaysian Insider on a recent visit there. Similarly, Chini assemblyman Datuk Abu Bakar Harun, who is close to Najib, is also a second generation Felda settler. "There is consistent aid given out to us. We get BR1M, we get allowances at the start of school every year for the children," Abu Bakar said. In Felda settlements, Rahim said, people are happy as their needs are provided for. Sentiments against Najib and calls for his resignation over controversies surrounding 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and the RM2.6 billion in his personal accounts are but distant echoes to them.....Najib almost lost Pekan in the 1999 general elections, winning by merely 200 votes, but that is something that will not happena again, Rahim said. "That time, he was not mesra (friendly). Now, he is. He doesn't come here too often but when he does, the reception is fantastic. The people turn up for him," he said. "Even his wife (Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor) is friendly now. She sits down with the people and talks to them. So, we are thankful for all of this," he said.... In Johor, a staunchly BN state, for example, 86% of Felda voters chose the BN. These figures were reported in a research paper by Khor Yu Leng that was published by Universiti Sains Malaysia after the last general election in 2013. It was estimated that Felda settlements nationwide represented a vote bank of about 1.2 million voters, or almost 9% of the total voting populace. As such, they are important strongholds for BN and its lead Malay party, Umno, of which Najib is president.....

Not easy to unseat Najib, his GE13 challenger tells Dr Mahathir BY V. ANBALAGAN, ASSISTANT NEWS EDITOR Published: 30 August 2015 12:01 PM - See more at:

What’s 20,000? Felda settlers alone can top Bersih 4 turnout, Najib says... Sunday August 30, 2015 - There might have been 20,000 people at the rally, as reported by some media, but I am sure only 20,000 are a little dissatisfied. The rest of the Malaysian population are with the government,” he was quoted as saying at the national-level Felda Settlers Day celebration in the Gong Badak indoor stadium in Kuala Terengganu on the east coast of peninsular Malaysia. The prime minister dismissed the number as insignificant, saying those supporting his Barisan Nasional (BN) government numbered in the hundreds of thousands as opposed to the tens of thousands that were reported to have hit the national capital last night..... “What is 20,000, we can gather hundreds of thousands. Felda settlers alone could make the numbers,” he was quoted saying further....
(editor's note: other reports on the Bersih rally in KL point to 300,000 on its second day)

More homes to be built for Felda settlers  by sharanpal singh randhawa Updated: Monday August 31, 2015 MYT 11:35:32 AM

Najib announces RM88.8 million for Felda settlers, payment starts next week Published: 7 July 2015 8:39 PM - See more at:

Shareholders get assurance of continuous dividend payments  5 September 2015 @ 11:00 AM; FELDA Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV), the world’s largest crude palm oil (CPO) producer, has given an assurance that it will continue to pay dividends to shareholders even during this challenging economic conditions. Its president and chief executive officer Datuk Mohd Emir Mavani Abdullah said FGV is operating more efficiently. Its operating expenses and cost of production have also improved. “I want to tell my major shareholders, including the 112,635 settlers nationwide, that FGV will continue to provide dividends even during difficult times. The company is making money, not losing money.”...

54 Gabonese settlers undergoing training at Felda schemes   6 September 2015 @ 10:28 AM   KUALA LUMPUR: Gabon-based OLAM Palm Gabon SA has sent 54 Gabonese settlers to undergo a four-month training at Felda land schemes in Trolak, Perak and Tekam, Pahang.  The training, which entails a one-month stint on farm management and another three months on oil palm cultivation, is being conducted by Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd’s (FGV), FGV Organisational Learning and Development Manager Saiful Nizam Yahaya said.....

23 August 2015: PM Najib urges FGV shareholders and Felda settlers to accept Eagle High deal, due diligence due end August, FGV to investigate migrant worker abuse claim, call for bauxite licences at Felda Bukit Goh

Felda shareholders told to back plantation buy By Zulaikha Zulkifli; Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak today urged the shareholders of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd (FGV) not to be swayed by those instigating them to oppose the proposal to purchase PT Eagle High Plantation. According to Najib, FGV shareholders should be rational in making the decision, and that they should not miss out on the golden opportunity to purchase PT Eagle shares.

PM coaxes Felda settlers into okaying EHP purchase FMT Reporters | August 6, 2015; Najib Razak says it is a good investment marred by certain parties who are trying to influence them into rejecting it...
Felda Global stake buy on track, no fallout in Eagle High deal Wednesday, 5 August 2015 By: HANIM ADNAN;
FGV to end due diligence exercise on PT Eagle acquisition by end of month Tuesday August 4, 201503:12 PM GMT+8 - See more at:

FGV shortlists five bidders for Canada's asset Posted on 11 August 2015 - 03:07pm  Lee Weng Khuen; KUALA LUMPUR: Felda Global Ventures Holdings Bhd has shortlisted five bidders for the disposal of its non-profitable canola and soybean crushing and refinery business in Canada.
CEO Datuk Mohd Emir Mavani Abdullah said the company is in final talks with five international firms.

Palm-Oil Migrant Workers Tell of Abuses on Malaysian Plantations - Global palm-oil industry contributes to human trafficking, rights advocates say By Syed Zain Al-Mahmood   July 26, 2015 1:55 p.m. ET JEMPOL, Malaysia—On a sun-scorched hillside, bulldozers clear land to plant more of the trees that yield palm oil, which is used in everything from Oreos to Pop-Tarts to Old Spice deodorant. Demand for palm oil has surged in recent years, making it the most-consumed vegetable oil in the world.  Nearby, an army of migrant workers toils in the heat, using long poles with attached sickles to saw off fruit bunches high in the trees, then...
Felda to investigate claims of worker abuse Published: 27 July 2015 7:59 PM - See more at:
Call for bauxite licences in Felda scheme July 26, 2015  After settlers run into problems clearing land, committee urges state to help; KUANTAN: The Pahang government has been urged to issue bauxite mining licences to 32 contractors who have made deals with settlers of Felda Bukit Goh to carry out mining on their land. Bukit Goh Bauxite Coordinating Committee chairman Abd Wahid Abd Manaf said problems would arise for settlers who had signed agreements with contractors to mine bauxite on their plantations....

Despite dropping share prices, Najib says FGV still has prospects BY RAM ANAND Published: 12 July 2015 7:48 PM - See more at:

The evolution of Felda Published: 18 July 2015 9:42 AM - See more at:

Cow thieves beaten by Felda settlers, force-fed cow dung & their car SET ON FIRE Friday, 24 July 2015 16:32

Palm oil / commodity production and Malaysia electoral politics - WSJ feature on Genting donations to YR1M, Bersih asks for EC investigation

There are various connections for smallholder agribusiness (large economic sectors) with Malaysia electoral politics - notably Felda rural politics, and also Felcra and Risda:

Recently the WSJ features the linkage of donations by a large public-listed plantation group to 1MDB linked charity with funds allegedly flowing to boost Prime Minister Najib's electoral efforts in GE2013

WSJ: Fund Controversy Threatens Malaysia’s Leader - debts run up by state development fund 1MDB have roiled Malaysia’s markets and led to calls for its leader to step aside; By Tom Wright June 18, 2015 10:34 p.m. ET; KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—A state investment fund is at the center of a burgeoning political and financial controversy that is roiling markets and leading to calls for the ouster of Malaysia’s prime minister....

Nazri legitimises the act of a robber, says Pua by malaysiakini, Senior minister Mohamed Nazri Abdul Aziz's statement on the use of the 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) fund to bankroll 13th general election has left the nation in disbelief, for he merely legitimised the act of a robber, an opposition MP says.  Nazri has legitimised the act of “robbing Peter to pay Paul”, DAP Petaling Jaya Utara MP Tony Pua said in a statement today.  The tourism and culture minister even thanked the Wall Street Journal (WSJ), which reported the use of the 1MDB fund for the general election of 2013, for setting the record straight. "If the report carried by WSJ is proven true, then it is good, as it shows the money was not lost. Then why do you (critics) say the money is lost?  What's wrong with (Finance Ministry wholly-owned 1MDB's) money being spent on the people?" Nazri (photo) told Malaysiakini yesterday.  But what was exposed by WSJ also showed that the companies that benefited from 1MDB's generous acquisition offers have separately contributed to a “charity” controlled by Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak, said Pua, who is also DAP national publicity secretary.  The leading international financial paper further claimed that some of these donations were then channelled to activities related to the Barisan Nasional’s election campaigns.  Worse, there is nothing in the Companies Commission (SSM) documents pertaining to YR1M, a company limited by guarantee, that it is in anyway related to the government, he said.   "Instead, YR1M looks like a private vehicle controlled entirely by the prime minister.  "Why should these allegedly ‘charitable’ deeds be handed out by this private vehicle, and not directly and transparently by the government?" he asked......"Indeed, based on the above, the prime minister, Genting Bhd, 1MDB and YR1M must not only be investigated by the Election Commission for committing electoral fraud as demanded by electoral reform group Bersih. "They must also be investigated by both the police and the Malaysian ti-Corruption Commission for possible embezzlement and misappropriation of public funds, criminal breach of trust (CBT) and corrupt practices," Pua added.

‘Haram’ money used by Umno to win GE13? By Yoursay; WSJ: Najib used 1MDB's funds for GE13; YOURSAY ‘WSJ is merely stating what Malaysians have already known.'  Abu Iman: If that is the case, Umno used 'haram' money to win GE13.... Swipenter: One would have thought that Umno would have huge piles of slush funds stashed away for use in elections. ...

EC tells Bersih to lodge report if 1MDB backed Najib’s GE13 campaign BY MOHD FARHAN DARWIS Published: 21 June 2015 4:55 PM; The Election Commission (EC) today questioned the actions of election watchdog Bersih 2.0 which had accused it of failing to introduce necessary reforms to rein in unfettered electoral abuse and corruption, following a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report that 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) had indirectly bankrolled the prime minister's 2013 election campaign. EC chairman Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said Bersih 2.0 should collate evidence and lodge reports with the relevant authorities if it felt the WSJ report had merit.

Bersih: Did 1MDB funds help BN steal GE13? Updated Jun 20, 2015 10:17pm; Electoral reform group Bersih today expressed shock over a Wall Street Journal (WSJ) report claiming that 1MDB's funds was used for election campaigning through intermediaries. "The WSJ report comes as a revolting truth of how the 13th general election was stolen from the people of Malaysia," its steering committee said in a statement today.  Bersih said the WSJ report implied that 1MDB may have been used as a government-controlled election slush fund for Umno.  "This is totally outrageous and an abuse of power because brazen dirty tactics have been used to manipulate voters’ trust.  "It also raised the issue of whether this is just the tip of the iceberg. Are there any other government-controlled money used in similar manner?" it said....


Addressing Malaysia's rural voters: RM151mil windfall for Risda rubber smallholders; Najib announces RM10m trust fund for Felcra settlers

23 June 2015: BERNAMA: RM151mil windfall for rubber smallholders June 20, 2015 Early Hari Raya cheer with dividend payout for planters in two Risda schemes; PEKAN: More than 30,000 rubber smallholders received early Hari Raya Aidilfitri cheer today with news of a total of RM151 million dividends to be paid out for those registered with two schemes by Risda, the rubber smallholders development authority. Of the total amount, RM43.9 million will be for 16,080 participants of the New Clusters Development and RM107.2 million to 16,158 participants of its Commercial Replanting Scheme. The prime minister, Najib Razak, said he hoped the dividend payments “will put us in a more comfortable position to celebrate the coming Aidilfitri”. He said the government was committed towards helping to raise the smallholders’ monthly income and standard of living. They were part of the bottom 40 per cent of society, with an average monthly income of about RM2,500. Najib also approved a Death Benefit Scheme of RM5.24 million for all rubber and oil palm smallholders registered with Risda. The prime minister also announced an allocation of RM2 million as initial funding for the Risda Foundation, which provides aid for the education, sports and social-welfare of smallholders, their families and the staff of Risda and companies owned by the agency. Najib said an expected shortfall in federal government revenue because of falling world oil prices would be met through revenue raised by the Goods and Services Tax (GST) imposed from April 1....
28 May 2015: Najib announces RM10m trust fund for Felcra settlers Thursday May 28, 2015 08:36 PM GMT+8; KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak today announced a trust fund with an initial capital injection of RM10 million to help Felcra settlers raise their living standard and income. e said the Felcra Settlers Trust Fund would be handled by Felcra and would receive an annual injection of RM5 million..... He also said that Felcra had been given due attention in the 11th Malaysia Plan and that a large allocation had been provided through it for rural development. This went to show that Felcra played an important role in national development though, at times, the size of the land developed by it was small compared to that worked by Felda, he said. — Bernama;

Interview: Wong Chen on electoral politics in rural Malaysia and Teluk Intan

An exclusive interview with Wong Chen, Parti Keadilan Rakyat*, Member of Parliament for Kelana Jaya, Selangor, 5 June 2014.

Some background and other views on Teluk Intan by-election here: /khoryuleng/2014/05/dap-suffers-loss-at-teluk-intan-by.html

*Parti Keadilan Rakyat is led by Anwar Ibrahim, the de facto leader of Pakatan Rakyat, the opposition coalition that includes the Democratic Action Party (DAP) and Parti Seislam Malaysia (PAS). DAP has long been Chinese controlled and oriented, and is strong in the urban sector, benefiting from malapportionment just as BN-UMNO benefits in the rural sector. PAS is an Islamic party and it is strong in NE Peninsular Malaysia. In the 13th General Election (GE13) on 5 May 2013, the opposition won the popular vote but BN-UMNO retained power, particularly by falling back into its semi-urban and rural strongholds, substantially losing power in the urban sector.

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.

Q. It sounds like you were intended as potential “parachute” candidate. How did the local politicians take to that?
I was asked by PKR HQ to contest in Bentong, to take down the MCA leader (then deputy leader) Liow Tiong Lai. They chose me because I am a Chinese with a Kelantanese background. Liow himself is from Melaka. My Kelantanese creds was supposed to give me a swing of Malay rural voter support.

However, I found myself spending 60% of my time fighting local PKR and local DAP politicians who really disliked the fact that I was “parachuted in.” I was even physically threatened by some PKR people. It was all a bit funny, in retrospect. DAP and PKR in Bentong had been fighting tooth and nail for years over which party should contest in Bentong. My presence had united them. For the first time ever, they worked together- but to get rid of me!
In contrast, the PAS team was supportive and proved to be genuine ally in my efforts to engage with the people of Bentong. Eventually, this 2008 PKR seat went back to DAP in 2013 and Wong Tuck (not a relation) stood as the candidate and lost. I was sent to Kelana Jaya and won. I am happy to be serving in an urban area and I still have fond memories of my time in Bentong.

Q. How were you able to engage with Malay and Chinese voters in Bentong?
First, you need local introducers to take you to the people of influence. You need to make deep connections with them. Not just superficial ones. This can only be done by spending time to dine with them, attend their functions, and by talking to them one-on-one. Once you convince this person - be it the village head or local boss - that you are genuine, they will then take you to meet the village. It takes about three visits to break the ice.

Malay rural folk are shy at first. They are wary of strangers, more so than urban people. They have their own way of doing things – certain mannerisms and etiquette. They shake hands in a gentle way. I had to relearn a few basic things – to speak in a softer manner, not to be so direct, to eat with my hands, and to greet people in the proper manner. Since I am unable to talk much about Islam, I chose to socialise with them by playing football.   
In the rural Chinese villages, the local guys are quite rough, and I used a different approach. For the Chinese kampungs, I will walk into the local coffee shop and start debating. You need to have a straight forward approach when dealing with them. You need to swear, spit and laugh. On my second visit, the folks there bought me drinks. The bantering is crude but they liked the fact that I was extremely direct and unpretentious.

Q. What political logistical issues do you see in a semi-urban / rural constituency?
Time. You need a lot of time. And you need to use of a 4-wheel drive vehicle to get around. You need a driver and a team. Getting to a rural Felda settlement in Chemomoi took me 3.5 hours from KL. To-and-fro, that’s 7 hours travelling and you have 3 hours to do some work to engage the public there. So, when I didn’t have the support of Bentong local PKR politicians – it was hell. I was coming home way past midnight because the Malay kampong ceramahs start at 9pm, after prayers.

Clearly, you also need money – for the driver, car and team. Moreover, rural folks expect you to come with an entourage (“rombongan”) to prove that you are a big man and hence, electable. This means that you have to pay for three cars to accompany you. Initially I advanced money for fuel and food and nobody showed up! It is imperative to build a reliable local team. It took me close to a year to get the team together. So in the Teluk Intan case, and everywhere else, you cannot parachute in for two weeks and hope to win over the hearts and minds of the people.

Q. What do you think drives non-urban Chinese voting behaviour?
Chinese folk in Bentong are worried about their illegal land status. They worry about the prices of rubber and palm oil. Most are relatively comfortable – that’s why they haven’t left the village. They make decent income and they await the return visits of their children from the cities during holidays. They hardly interact with other races. And when they do, it is mostly on a friendly basis. They do not see national issues, such as Hudud to be a reality in their life. Conceptually they understand, but they do not see it as part of their world. Hence, I don’t think it is a deciding factor in their voting. More important to them are basic economics and wanting to maintain a peaceful life. They wile away their time with minor vices – mah jong and illegal 4D betting. Some like to fish. Most like to talk about politics – contrary to their laidback life, they are very well informed. So I would say economics first then other issues. In a non-contentious economic cycle year, then it all boils down to whether they like you or not.

Q. What are important issues for non-urban Malay voters?
In a candidate, they seek someone who is one of them – a local, a Malay of some standing and from a good family. I leveraged on the fact that my father is a Datuk. Therefore, they assume that I must come from an important family. A candidate with a large network of family ties will guarantee a rural win. So, if you don’t come from there, you better be the best friend of the guy there with the biggest family network.

Malay voters are also worried about palm oil and rubber prices. About 30% are religious and the rest are just normal folks. Most are also well-informed about national politics. A typical Malay Felda smallholder is in his early late 50s to 60s. He has Indonesian workers that he will send to work on his farm from 8am and pick up at 2pm. He is free to chat with other 60 year olds from 9am to 2pm every day. They are professional conversationalists. When I was there, the biggest topic was Sharizat’s cow scandal. They loved to hear my views and bought me drinks. They are generally a happy lot. They were earning around RM3,000 per month. Palm oil and rubber prices were good. The biggest impact that I made on them was to show them a video of the Bersih 2.0 rally with the police beating the protestors. At a ceramah, they requested that I replay the 3-minute video in a continuous loop, about 10 times. I believe they are not prone to sensational images, but I really connected with them on the basic issue of fairness and justice. They will elect you if they like you, and they will tell their friends to elect you. They liked a Chinese who could speak Kelantanese and could eat with his hands.

Q. Given your knowledge and experience of the above, how do you interpret the Teluk Intan by-election outcome?
Teluk Intan was a gamble by DAP. They have a national agenda to attract Malay members and voters en masse, contingent upon Dyana winning. Mathematically with a 7,300 majority, DAP should not have lost. The unintended consequence of this election is DAP had given a new lease of life to Gerakan, giving them a ministerial post to their president. 

Based on my own experience in Bentong, my suspicion is the local DAP team were not fully on board. They probably did not do enough to ensure her victory. This doesn’t mean that this was deliberate, but likely that there was not enough local buy in. Local folks are also suspicious of snooty urbanites telling them what to do. I suffered hell in my early months in Bentong only to find out 6 months later that I had not “asked permission” from local warlords in the proper manner. I was accused of “tak beri salam” before starting work in Bentong.
I personally believe that the DAP election team would have performed better under the guidance of the likes of YB Liew Chin Tong, who is humble, hardworking and understands rural folks. In GE13, he proved himself by capturing several Chinese rural seats in Johor.  

Being a parachute candidate, Dyana shouldn’t be supported by a parachute election team. Only the locals could introduce her and get her the needed support. She had a national image campaign and became a media darling. Unfortunately, the media fawning did not translate to localized support. So, the campaign team will have to bear responsibility. I thought she worked hard, kept her composure and smiled a lot. To really ensure rural victory, you just have to clock in the time with a slow-slow approach and you have to work on the personal touch. In other words, was Dyana embedded there months earlier, when YB Seah became very sick?

Q. Some people ask if rural Chinese are unable to vote for a young Malay girl. What do you think?
Sadly, racism and racist attitudes define Malaysia. The Chinese do not have an absolute moral high ground on this matter. It is pretty clear from the numbers that race was a factor. The Chinese majority seat will prefer a Chinese representative. Is that racism? If we turn the tables around, we have to ask if a Malay majority seat would want a non-Malay candidate.

But I don’t think rural folk are more prone to racism than urban folk. If DAP had fielded a well-regarded local Malay personality, someone from Teluk Intan, I suspect the results would have been better. Whilst the “local boy” factor does not mean much in the urban setting, it means the world in a rural setting.
I will venture to guess that Dyana’s Achilles heel emerged at the very late stages of the election campaigning – Perkasa. Her mother was exposed as a founding pro-tem committee member of Perkasa and Dyana herself helped her mother with memberships. I suspect that her initial denial and subsequent admission let a lot of DAP loyalists down. There was talk that the revelations shook the core cadre of the local machinery. After all, many KL-ites were also questioning her past and asking why no thorough background checks and/or early disclosures were made.

Q. Was Hudud a factor?
Hudud is being pursued by both PAS and UMNO via the so called joint study committee. Dyana was against Hudud. So if Hudud was a factor, logically she would have gotten more Chinese votes. For the Malay campaign, I was told that DAP relied heavily on PAS’s machinery. There was talk that PAS did not really want to support an anti-Hudud and non tudung wearing candidate. However, the numbers do not support this theory because the Malay votes actually increased a bit. I was told that the projected percentage Malay swing was 6% but she only managed half at 3%. I think it is somewhat unfair to blame PAS for this shortfall. Ultimately the DAP election team has to plan and execute according to the political landscape.

Rural folks and Hudud? Are Malay rural folks more religious? I really don’t think so. It is true that religion is a very big part of their lives but it does not necessarily translate to votes. If all rural folks were religious, PAS would be in Putrajaya today. Rural folks are primarily and largely economic driven. Whilst they are not buying Bursa stocks and pondering about derivatives, they worry about real economic issues of inflation, the price of fertilisers and what their rubber and palm oil will get them.

Q. What has the Opposition learned from Teluk Intan and how do you move forward?
We need to go back to basics. We need to defend our urban seats. This means good governance and better delivery. Walk the talk. Selangor needs to buck up. Most importantly, Pakatan Rakyat needs to stick together and not take divisive positions. It is crazy that having won the popular vote, we are now acting as if we had failed miserably in GE13.

Moving forward, to win Putrajaya, we need to win some 30 rural seats. Teluk Intan taught us a few things. Local candidates are best. Try not to parachute in a candidate for a rural seat. If you do, you need ample time to settle in. You need local support and in lieu of that, you need resources to build up a fresh election team. There are no real vote banks in Peninsular rural areas. That being the case, it means that all seats are in fact winnable. The team that plans well, works well and works hardest will win.
An exclusive interview with Wong Chen, Parti Keadilan Rakyat, Member of Parliament for Kelana Jaya, 5 June 2014.

Some background and other views on Teluk Intan by-election here: /khoryuleng/2014/05/dap-suffers-loss-at-teluk-intan-by.html

Khor Yu Leng has researched and written about the political economy of Felda and Johor-Iskandar and voting outcomes in GE13 (with a focus on rural voting behaviours). Some highlights here: /khoryuleng/2014/04/malaysia-political-economy-of-felda-and.html. These works will be published in an academic journal and two books in 2014-2015. She was Visiting Fellow at the Institute of Southeast Asian Studies in 2013. She is married to Wong Chen.