The country’s biggest parliamentary opposition party, the DAP has been predicted to regain Penang comfortably if snap state polls were held today.
This is due to strong Chinese sympathy wave over Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng’s graft charges.
Gerakan president Mah Siew Keong’s recent statement that Chinese would strongly back the DAP in the next general election due to the graft case is a point to ponder.
Mah has suggested that Gerakan would face the wrath of Chinese backlash in Penang.
He claimed that there would be an overwhelming Chinese sympathy wave for the DAP and its secretary-general Guan Eng.
Going by Mah’s remarks, Chinese sympathy towards Guan Eng could hammer the final coffin on Gerakan’s coffin in Malaysian political landscape.
But then didn’t the Chinese feverishly support the DAP, now defunct Pakatan Rakyat and the ‘Ubah’ mission in the last 13th General Election held on May 5, 2013?
Weren’t Gerakan, MCA and MIIC killed without a burial in that ‘Ubah’ avalanche?
But Gerakan, although lost all four federal and 13 state seats it contested in Penang for past two general elections, did not become obsolete.
The Sarawak state polls and, the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections had seen a return of some of the 85 percent of Chinese voters, who had supported Pakatan Rakyat and DAP in the 2013 general election, to Barisan Nasional (BN) fold.
However, Mah cautioned that Chinese sentiments would change after Lim’s prosecution.
“DAP will continue to win massively in the coming general election. The people’s sentiment is not favourable to us, especially to Penang Gerakan, who is stuck now,” Mah was quoted as saying in a Chinese daily.
Gerakan has docketed certain “winnable seats” in Penang for the next general election.
Those seats included Batu Kawan parliamentary seat and state seats of Sungai Pinang, Pantai Jerejak, Batu Uban, Machang Bubok and Bukit Tengah.
“Winnable seats, yes! Nonetheless we have to work hard to win these seats,” said a party leader in George Town.
Gerakan identified these seats as winnable because nearly half of their registered voters were non-Chinese.
Just like the DAP, Gerakan is a Chinese-dominated party.
But it has no confidence in winning Chinese-dominated seats.
Mah could be right to say that Chinese voters would sympathise the DAP, especially if one took into account that the party could collect RM1.44 million donation within 21 hours to refurbish the RM1 million bail paid for Guan Eng.
Guan Eng was charged on two counts of graft charges at the Penang High Court in George Town City on Thursday June 30, 2016.
But minutes after the DAP’s announcement on the collected donation sum, social media went abuzz with a viral info graphic box claiming that of the RM1.44 million, RM1.05 million were contributed by three major developer companies and a tycoon from Penang.
No doubt it shows that many Penangites still supported the DAP and Guan Eng and, Mah and Gerakan are understandably worried.
But the sympathy wave exists for now because the issue is still fresh.
Whether the wave would last till next year and beyond when the general election comes around remains a big question.
So Mah and Gerakan should not be worried too much. They still have time.
They should just keep working to neutralise the sympathetic groundswell and win over the people.
Anything can happen in politics from now and then.
One week is very long politics, let alone a year or more.