FROM 12 to 18 Jan 2009, the Chinese press highlighted the Kuala Terengganu by-election.
Guang Ming Daily‘s editorial on 18 Jan, titled Pay attention to the signal from the Kuala Terengganu by-election, examined what Chinese Malaysian voters want from political parties.
The 17 Jan by-election saw PAS candidate Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut wresting the parliamentary seat from Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh with a 2,631-vote majority.
The result was definitely a blow to the BN, even though the additional opposition seat in Parliament has no significant impact on the national political landscape.
“However, all factions should pay attention to the signal behind this by-election,” the editorial said.
PAS supporters waving flags after the results were announced on
17 Jan (Pic by Danny Lim) The results showed that Chinese Malaysian voters favoured the BN. No matter how hard Pakatan Rakyat leaders of Chinese descent tried to woo these voters, they still voted for the BN, the editorial noted.
It reckoned that the situation was a result of PAS harping on the issue of hudud.
“The Chinese in Kuala Terengganu want a secular state. They still cannot accept hudud. It is difficult for PAS to gain the trust and support of Chinese voters if the party is unable to change in this respect,” the editorial said.
As for the BN, despite gaining the support of Chinese voters, it was still defeated because more Malay Malaysian voters picked PAS. In less than a year since the March 2008 general election, the BN has lost Malay Malaysian votes, the editorial observed.
It said the BN must evaluate itself to determine the reason for the coalition’s defeat, and take the necessary steps to reform itself.
The editorial concluded by saying: “The Kuala Terengganu by-election has finally come to an end. It is time for the parties to review the results and pay attention to the signal from voters. Only parties that listen to the voters can emerge victorious in the future.”
Between 12 and 18 Jan, the Chinese press also focused on the reaction following the assault on Dong Zong president Dr Yap Sin Tian.
On 12 Jan, Oriental Daily published a commentary by Tan Xin Jing titled The punch that changes Dong Zong re-election.
Tan wrote that it has been doubtful if Yap could retain his position in the Dong Zong elections to be held in June for his involvement in the New Era College conflict, in which the contract for the college’s principal Dr Kua Kia Soong was not extended. However, the punch by college alumni Abraham Lim during the college’s 11 Jan graduation ceremony may gain Yap some sympathy.
For a long time, Yap has been at odds with Kua and his supporters. In the course of the conflict, both Yap and Kua inevitably made personal attacks against each other, Tan said.
However, Tan is unsure if the dispute between both men was what propelled Lim to attack Yap.
Tan, notes, however, that the punch Yap suffered may eclipse the issues of college land and the appointment of a new principal that Kua has been hounding Yap with.
Tan asked, “Will Yap be able to escape from the long-standing conflict because he was attacked? Will he gain the sympathy of Dong Zong delegates all over the country and retain his position as president?”
The writer concluded by saying that perhaps the lesson to be learnt from the attack is that both Yap and Kua may end up jeopardising the interests of the Chinese Malaysian community.
(© Bask Oner)Toll discount
On 17 Jan, Hong Ching Mu, in a Kwong Wah Yit Poh commentary titled Toll discount should not be restricted, talked about PLUS’s announcement of a 20% discount for motorists using the North-South Expressway from 23 to 28 Jan.
Hong observed that the “20% discount” was actually an additional 10% to an earlier 10% discount that was announced on 1 Jan.
He also reminded readers that only motorists travelling during non-peak hours between midnight and 7am would enjoy such discounts.
He wrote: “Everybody knows it is more tiring and unsafe to drive at night. The glaring headlights of cars from the opposing direction and from those tailing behind obscures the sight of motorist. Hence, motorists have to be more alert.
“The savings we get from the 20% discount is offset by the stress and risk we put ourselves through for driving under unpredictable circumstances.”
He said the highway concessionaire has been making immense profits annually. The declassification of highway concession agreements has left many speechless about how easy it is for the highway concessionaires to make huge profits.
Under such circumstances, Hong wrote, shouldn’t highway concessionaires fulfill their social responsibilities by giving proper rebates to consumers?