SIBU: While the battle to win over the 54,695 voters has intensified as the contesting parties reach the final lap, early indications show the Barisan Nasional (BN) is expected to retain the seat but with a smaller majority.
Party insiders from both side predicted that the margin would be close with BN election machinery believing the ruling party will pull through with a majority of between 1,000 and 2,500 votes while the DAP says it is still trailing with 49% support while the BN is at 51%.
“The odds are still against us. However, we hope we can reach 50& by tomorrow. In order to win, we need to have a high turnout, with Chinese votes needing to reach 80% in favour of us, and an extra 10% of Iban and Malay votes. If that were to happen, we can make it,” said DAP veteran leader Lim Kit Siang.
In the last general election, DAP obtained 62% Chinese votes, 10% Malay/Melanau votes and 15% Iban votes. Of the 54, 695 registered voters, 67% are Chinese, the majority belonging to the Foochow clan, Dayak (16.3%) and Malay/Melanau (16.2%).
With the Malay/Melanau and Dayak expected to continue their tradition of being BN’s vote bank, how members of the Foochow clan will vote remains to be seen.
The Foochows, who are known to be parochial, have a history of shifting allegiances and this has made both the BN and DAP nervous about the support level from this group. In the previous general election, the results showed that about 60% of them had voted for the DAP.
‘Chinese not easily influenced’
Political analyst Dr Jeniri Amir of Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) believes that more Chinese votes will go against the BN, based on previous results, continuing the pattern of Chinese voters in urban seats like Kuching.
“The Chinese are the majority here; BN will really need their votes to win this seat.”
He said it was still possible for BN to attract the Chinese and improve the level of support, particulary with the presence of Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak, cautioning that the BN should refrain from making excessive pledges and promises.
“The Chinese are not the type to be easily influenced or swayed,” he added.
As pointed out by PBB senior vice-president Awang Tengah Ali Hassan, if the Chinese support dropped beyond the level of 35%, it would spell trouble for the BN even it maintained the level of support from the other groups.
“We just hope the level of the support can be maintained. However, we are also worried about the Iban votes now. If their level of support drops, then it will also spell trouble for us,” he said.
Therefore, it is not surprising that both sides of the political divide are now going all out to win over the Malay/Melanau and Dayak votes while continuing slowly and painstakingly courting the Chinese votes.
On the BN side, what they want to do is at least to retain the level of support they received in the 2008 general election for the constituency – that is 80% to 85% Malay/Melanau.
Therefore, the battle in the last 48 hours would be concentrated on voters who are fence-sitters, who, according to SUPP president Dr George Chan are estimated at about 9% of the total voters now.
“The rest basically have already made up their minds, including about the 3,000 new voters. What we are fighting for now are the remaining 9% of the total voters who have yet to make up their minds,” he said.
Winning votes has never been easy but one thing is for sure: both sides are putting up their best tactics and strategies to swing these fence-sitters over to their side.
BN may retain Sibu seat with smaller majority