A Subang Jaya Ceramah

By Christopher John

“I FEEL like Obama!” exclaimed DAP’s Teng Chang Khim, speaking at a ceramah in USJ 12 in Subang Jaya on Saturday, March 1. He added, “I thought I was great. I thought I could attract 4,000 to 5,000 people, but now I know that I am not that great. Now I regret. I should have contested in Subang Jaya!”

The incumbent state assemblyman for Sungai Pinang (N44) and Selangor state assembly opposition leader was referring to the thousands of Subang Jaya folk who came to see charming DAP newcomer, Hannah Yeoh. Yeoh is up against the Barisan Nasional (BN)’s Ong Chong Suan from MCA for the N31 Subang Jaya state seat. And Yeoh didn’t fail to impress.

Based on publicly available information, she questioned the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (or MPSJ)’s expenditure, stating that they overspent by RM80 million. She stated that assessment rates had also risen. Yeoh further argued that Subang Jaya didn’t need any more unnecessary development, but rather it needed to focus on improving the quality of life via amenities such as more car parks, access for the disabled and the elderly, and solutions to Subang Jaya’s perennial traffic woes.

Yeoh also vowed to tackle crime, so that women could walk freely with their “handbags swinging in Taipan”, referring to the popular commercial centre in Subang Jaya. Earlier, Tony Pua, the DAP candidate for Petaling Jaya Utara (P106), who was also there, noted that the overall crime rate had gone up by 45%, with violent crimes going up by 119% during the last four years of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s administration. The number of reported rape cases has also more than doubled, at a rate of 8.7% per day. Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR)’s candidate for Lembah Pantai (P121) Nurul Izzah Anwar, who made a cameo appearance at the ceramah to the audience’s delight, claimed that there were more than 100,000 police, but only 6,000 assigned to combat crime. She joked that the rest were assigned to follow Opposition members around!

“I am doing this not to be ahead or to be a YB [Yang Berhormat, the title for an elected representative], but am doing it for you!” said Yeoh when she was at the mike. She said that people were hungry for the truth and wanted individuals to stand up for them, citing the case of a young Indian man from a poor part of Subang Jaya who almost brought her to tears when he told her, “When you win, don’t forget us.” She said that such voters had been forgotten by the BN, and when they decided to speak up, they were told, “Saya pantang dicabar. [I do not like being challenged]”. It was a case of kacang lupakan kulit [being ungrateful]”, Yeoh said, vowing to speak up for all.

Happy, Happy Subang
Teng said he needed more cats to catch rats in the state assembly. Judging from the crowd’s enthusiastic response towards Yeoh, he may yet get his wish. As a matter of fact, the crowd was taken in with a DAP veteran who thrilled the crowd when he sang to the tune of The Battle Hymn of the Republic, “Happy, Happy Subang Jaya…Happy, Happy Subang Jaya…when Hannah is marching in…to the Selangor state assembly.”

The night also saw yet another candidate, PKR’s Loh Gwo Burne, who stated unequivocally that his “direction was north…to Parliament!” Loh is up against incumbent BN candidate, Datuk Lee Hwa Beng, and independent Billi Lim Peng Soon for the P104 Kelana Jaya parliamentary seat. Loh, who is best known for videotaping the now infamous Lingam tape, said that the tape would amount to nothing if the people allowed the situation with the judiciary and corruption to continue. Raising various examples, Loh, Pua and Teng talked about how rampant corruption was.

Loh also spoke about the need to fight for fairness and equality, stating that the people had suffered far too long. Lawyer and blogger Haris Ibrahim also spoke on the issue and raised the crowd’s energy level when he told them to repeat after him: “Saya anak bangsa Malaysia! [I am a Malaysian!]” The crowd responded enthusiastically. Haris added, “We are all sons of the soil. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.”

Haris said there were no racial problems on the ground and that it was racist politicians who played the divide and rule game. Haris opined that Umno was more afraid of the [Nov 10] Bersih [Coalition for Clean and Fair Elections] rally as it was multiracial in nature, and could not spin it into a race issue as such. He said that by contrast, the [Nov 25] Hindraf [Hindu Rights Action Force] rally offered Umno the opportunity to spin it into a race issue. He added, though, that the 30,000 people who took part in the Hindraf rally were also “anak bangsa Malaysia” who were simply and peacefully saying, “What about us, why were we left behind?”

Yeoh’s father-in-law, Muniandy, earlier argued that Malaysian voters gave the BN a two thirds majority, but the government trampled on them instead. He said the government must look after the people, and that there was no need for a “yes” man [or woman]. Pua earlier told the crowd that trust was the main quality voters should seek when deciding who to put in Parliament and the state assembly.

Responding to comments by the BN about her youth, Yeoh said, “I am young, but I am clean”. She added that while others may have more experience than she, they might also have more experience in doing the wrong things. Judging by the crowd’s enthusiasm, age did not seem to be a factor. At least, not at the ceramah. How it will determine voters’ choice on March 8, though, is left to be seen.

[Note: Subang Jaya total voters: 44,570; Malay (32.2%), Chinese (56.4%), Indian (10%), Others (1.3%). Kelana Jaya total voters: 79,649; Malay (42.1%), Chinese (37.5%), Indian (19.4%), Others (1%).]

Christopher John is a business consultant, who is also a keen observer of issues affecting Malaysians.