Pakatan Rakyat (PR) is confident of taking Perak this May 5 with increased support from Chinese voters in the rural Malay-majority seats as they have now warmed to voting in a non-Chinese to represent them.
The Chinese form the minority in many of these rural seats where PR parties, particularly Islamist PAS, had lost by small margins in Election 2008.
But Perak DAP secretary Nga Kor Ming said that with PAS, the DAP and PKR now campaigning as one under the PR umbrella, the rural Chinese community has grown more comfortable voting for Muslim candidates from PAS or PKR.
“In our latest independent survey, we are quite optimistic. We have strong seats now... between 35 and 38. The best is 40,” he told The Malaysian Insider when met on the campaign trail in Trong, near Taiping, on Friday.
There are 59 seats in the Perak assembly. In Election 2008, the DAP, PKR and PAS collectively won 31 seats to Barisan Nasional’s (BN) 28.
“In these marginal seats, the non-Malay votes are very crucial,” Nga said, making specific reference to Trong, the state seat where PAS had lost to Umno by a marginal 916 votes in Election 2008.
Nga added that like elsewhere across Perak, the loss in Trong was largely due to lagging support from the Chinese for PAS’s Norazli Musa, owing to their fear of the party’s Islamist stance.
Including Trong, PAS also lost in a total of 15 state seats in the 2008 polls, 10 of which were by slim majorities of below 1,000 votes while five seats were by majorities below 500 votes.
With this in mind, Nga said Chinese support from rural Perak could help bump up support from the community by 10 per cent and shift the balance in favour of PR this May 5.
“In Perak, we got over 70 per cent or so from the Chinese votes previously. If we can push this to 80 per cent, we can not only form the government but we can form a stable one to avoid crossovers,” he said.
The Perak PR government fell in Perak in 2009 after a short 11-month rule following the defections of three of its assemblymen.
In the 2008 election, the three parties won Perak largely due to enthusiastic support from the Chinese, particularly those from urban-centric seats in Kinta Valley.
The DAP had won all the 18 Chinese-majority seats it contested and lost only one of the seven parliamentary seats it contested — Kampar.