PKR Indian leaders want Indian candidate for Hulu Selangor

By Syed Jaymal Zahiid (Malaysian Insider)
KUALA LUMPUR, March 26 — Indian leaders in PKR have made it clear that they would favour an Indian candidate for the imminent Hulu Selangor by-election following the death of its PKR MP, Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad last night.
PKR vice-president R Sivarasa said putting up an Indian candidate would be most favourable for the party in light of the constituency’s recent voting pattern.
“It will be most favourable to have an Indian candidate contest there from the winning point of view so yes I would be leaning towards that idea,” he told The Malaysian Insider.
The Subang MP said further that fielding an Indian candidate would also “neutralise the” anticipated “racial issues”, considering the likelihood that its political rivals Barisan Nasional (BN) will be fielding an Indian candidate as well.
MIC, the third biggest component party in BN, said today it will propose to the coalition’s top leadership the name of its deputy president Datuk G Palanivel for the candidacy.
Palanivel had lost to the late Zainal Abidin by a wafer-thin margin of 198 majority votes at the 2008 general elections.
However, it is understood that BN may give the seat — with a significant Indian vote — to Umno, and will provide a different seat to MIC.
The Malays make up 53.9 per cent of more than 60,000 voters in the constituency. The Chinese vote pool there stands at 26.7 per cent, and Indians, approximately 19 per cent, while other races are at 0.41 per cent.
It is understood that, with the Malay vote evenly split, PKR is hoping to retain the Indian support that it received in Election 2008.
Kapar MP and PKR supreme council member S Manickavasagam said he too will be lobbying for an Indian candidate and is confident that it will be tactically advantageous for PKR.
“You see, Indian leaders from PKR have never lost a by-election as evident with the Bukit Selambau by-election, and our track record is good. No PKR Indian leaders have jumped ship,” said Manickavasagam.
It is understood that the lost of four of its lawmakers, triggered by three defections and one sacking, have given PKR the shivers. It will be keen on placing a strong candidate to stem further losses.
Manickavasagam argued that fielding an Indian candidate will be the best option now for the party.
The Malaysian Insider understands the proposals made by these leaders will likely be shot down by the party’s Hulu Selangor division.
A senior official of the party there told The Malaysian Insider that the majority of the Malay PKR supporters there would want a Malay candidate to be fielded.
“We want a Malay candidate because the majority of the voters here are us,” said one local PKR leader.
“And if you consider what happened in Bagan Pinang, where the Indian votes swung to BN, it would be disastrous to place an Indian candidate here,” added the official.
But Sivarasa does not share this sentiment, arguing that they are more than prepared to win the Indian hearts there.
“We are prepared to go down to the ground and argue our case,” he said.