KUALA LUMPUR, 24 Feb 2009: State by-election in Bukit Lanjan? Political leaders and operatives from both sides of the political divide have signalled that that they are not too keen on this battle.
Selangor Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim will have an audience with the Selangor Ruler Sultan Sharafuddin Idris Shah tomorrow to seek his guidance on Elizabeth Wong’s offer to resign as state executive councillor (exco) and state assemblywoman for Bukit Lanjan.
Wong has been thrust into controversy following the recent release of intimate photographs of her. She has since gone abroad on leave upon the advice of the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) leadership.
However, several party leaders from both the Barisan Nasional (BN) and the PKR-DAP-PAS coalition of Pakatan Rakyat (PR), when met by Bernama, preferred not to have a by-election in Bukit Lanjan.
This preference is being made in light of the two pending by-elections in Perak and in Kedah, both scheduled for 7 April.
The leaders have said that they do not want their political machinery to be stretched because if a by-election is held in Bukit Lanjan, chances are that it would be held simultaneously with the Bukit Gantang parliamentary by-election in Perak and the Bukit Selambau state by-election in Kedah.
The Election Commission had indicated that if the Bukit Lanjan state seat is vacated, the by-election for it may be held together with the other two by-elections.
“It is not that we are less confident of winning, but practically it does not make much sense. No doubt a victory will boost our morale but you got to remember it will also put many constraints on our machinery to face three by-elections in one go,” a Selangor DAP leader said.
While the PKR-DAP-PAS in Selangor is concerned about their machinery, some BN leaders on the other side were also not in favour of a by-election in Bukit Lanjan.
Noting that Bukit Lanjan is a very challenging seat to contest, a BN leader said he preferred to concentrate on the campaigns for the two by-elections, particularly Bukit Gantang, where BN has a better chance of capturing the seat.
“I don’t think we are the only party that is not in favour of a by-election in Bukit Lanjan. The other side will also have similar feelings,” the leader said.
The Wong issue
However, PKR information chief Tian Chua believed that the BN was not keen on a by-election in Bukit Lanjan because it was less confident of winning the seat.
“I also notice that BN seems to distant itself from using the Elizabeth Wong issue to shape public opinion. They do not want things to backfire on them,” he said.
Former Selangor Gerakan chairperson Datuk Lum Weng Keong said Wong’s offer to resign was due to her personal problems and her party’s internal struggle.
“It’s their internal problem,” he said.
While there is a popular belief that PKR is likely to retain the seat should there be a by-election there, it is still not certain if the party can maintain the same majority because the average turnout in a by-election will be much lower compared to a general election.
In last year’s general election, Wong, a human rights activist and environmentalist, won the Bukit Lanjan seat with a majority of 5,155 votes, the second largest majority won by a PKR candidate in Selangor.
She had polled 12,125 votes against incumbent Yong Dai Ying from BN, who obtained 6,970 votes.
Most of the 25,550 Bukit Lanjan voters are non-Malays – with the Chinese Malaysians representing 52.8%, Malay Malaysians 31.8%, Indian Malaysians 14.7% and other races 0.7%.
Women make up 51% of the total number of voters.
The Bukit Lanjan constituency comprises Bandar Utama, Bandar Sri Damansara and Kayu Ara, with a population of about 50,000.
Of the total population, 25% are in the lower-income group residing in Kampung Sungai Kayu Ara and the Pelangi Damansara low-cost flats. The upper-income group makes up about 35% living in Bandar Utama, Damansara Perdana and Bandar Sri Damansara, while the remaining 40% is in the middle-income group.
Whatever it is, as pointed by Gerakan secretary-general Teng Chang Yeow, the PKR will decide whether they want the Bukit Lanjan by-election.
“If they decide that there should be a by-election, obviously we have to face it,” he said.
The PR Selangor government now controls 36 out of 56 state seats. The rest are held by BN. — Bernama