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Sunday, 14 January 2018 | MYT 12:00 AM

Chinese votes in the balance

THE DAP building was closed.

It was late morning in Pasir Pinji New Village – the Opposition’s stronghold in Ipoh – and DAP might be still having their new year holidays.

The double-storey building with its big rocket signboard is a landmark in the village.

But all was quiet under an overcast sky that day.

Except for two shops with red lanterns that signal Chinese New Year is coming, the festive mood was clearly missing.

And there was also no sign of a looming general election that is expected in the next 100 days.

A food stall operator described the situation as “not like before”.

Foh qin (rocket in Cantonese) is very quiet,” he said of this predominantly Cantonese speaking village.

Political observers are not surprised given the fact that the DAP is having its own domestic problems and its fair share of controversies.

But politics remains a hot coffeeshop topic in this village.

The stall operator in his 60s listed the MCA and Gerakan teaming up as the current hot topic.

Gerakan was set up by a group of former MCA leaders in 1968.

As such, the historical MCA-Gerakan Jan 6 rally, themed “Stronger Together” at Wisma MCA is likened to a reunion of an estranged family after 50 years.

While this is a blessing for MCA and Gerakan, it is poison for the DAP.

DAP, MCA and Gerakan are contenders for the Chinese votes.

A weak MCA and a weak Gerakan in Barisan Nasional would augur well for DAP.

The May 2013 elections saw MCA winning seven parliamentary seats and Gerakan (one) while DAP bagged 38 parliamentary seats.

Gerakan won the Teluk Intan parliamentary seat in a by-election a year later.

It was obvious that MCA and Gerakan were at the lowest ebb.

Speaking at the rally, Gerakan president Datuk Seri Mah Siew Keong hit out on those who described MCA and Gerakan as rivals.

“The zero sum game mentality only serves to benefit no one but the Opposition that is relying on our dissent to gain an advantage,” he said, adding that a vote for MCA is a vote for Gerakan and vice versa from now on.

MCA president Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai recipocrated, saying the time has come for both parties to go for maximum synergistic effects.

There is no doubt that MCA and Gerakan with one million plus members and 400,000 members respectively will emerge stronger together.

And this has been tested and proven in the Teluk Intan parliamentary by election where Mah won with a 238-vote majority.

The by-election saw an MCA team led by its deputy president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong who went all out to ensure Gerakan a victory in the May 31 by-election.

Mah who held the seat for two terms (1999-2008) lost it to DAP in the 2008 and 2013 elections.

Saying a good start is half the battle won, Liow said both parties have cooperated closely in the last three years, especially on major issues confronting the Chinese community.

The upbeat mood in a packed San Choon Hall at the rally last Saturday was meant to send a clear signal – we are one team – to all levels of both parties.

What is most important is that they are driven by a shared and clear purpose – a rebound in the coming general election.