'Chinese votes could decide outcome'

ALOR SETAR - The 1,800-odd Chinese voters could be the deciding factor in the Sungai Limau by-election, says MCA vice-president Datuk Seri Chor Chee Heung.

The Chinese votes would be crucial in the event of the Barisan Nasional and PAS each securing 50 per cent of the Malay votes, he said.

For this reason, he added, the MCA would go all out to woo all the Chinese constituents.

Both Barisan and PAS have named their candidates for the by-election and, barring any unforeseen developments, it is likely to be a straight fight between former university lecturer Dr Ahmad Sohaimi Lazim and Jerai PAS Youth chief Mohd Azam Abdul Samat.

The MCA has set up a by-election committee headed by Kedah MCA chairman Datuk Chong Itt Chew to court the Chinese voters.

"The MCA is of the opinion that the Barisan has a fighting chance to win the seat," said Chor, adding PAS does not have a person of Azizan's calibre to defend the seat.

"Azizan, who had helmed the seat for five terms, was an influential figure," he said at the office of the Alor Setar MCA division in Jalan Pegawai here yesterday.

"The 'personal factor' was strong as he was friendly and approachable. There is definitely a lot of difference without him here. It opened up our (the Barisan's) chances.

"Besides, it's easier for us to convince the voters now since we have a Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir as the Mentri Besar and he is young and dynamic," added Chor.

He said the MCA will go house-to-house to meet the Chinese voters and also visit the market, adding the party is set to have three major gatherings with the community ahead of polling day.

Chor said party president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and his deputy Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai were both expected to be present at these gatherings.

Meanwhile, Sungai Limau MCA operations chief Yeoh Sue Leong said they aim to secure 60 per cent of the Chinese votes.