PONTIAN, Nov 15 — At the eve of the Tanjung Piai by-election, three main political parties contesting — Pakatan Harapan (PH), Barisan Nasional (BN) and Gerakan — are busy in trying to get the outstation voters to return and cast their votes tomorrow.
With the sentiments quickly changing between leaning to PH and BN in the last moments before voting, Johor DAP secretary Tan Hong Pin admitted that the ruling coalition needs every vote to make a difference.
“Basically we are still unsure if the outstation voters will return to vote as there is no strong indicator for their support for PH.
“Up until tonight, our machinery will still reach out to as many households to get their family members to return and vote,” said Tan when contacted by Malay Mail.
Tan, who is instrumental in PH’s campaign since November 2, said the campaign to reach out to Tanjung Piai’s outstation voters, who are mainly Chinese, to return has been ongoing through social media and also their family networks since the start of the campaign.
“We also educate the outstation voters that it’s their responsibility and right for them to return and cast their vote.
“For PH, we will work through the last hour tonight in an effort to get families here to encourage their loved ones to return and vote in tomorrow’s by-election,” said Tan.
It is estimated that 15 to 20 per cent are working outstation, mainly in Singapore, with some in Kuala Lumpur and nearby Johor Baru.
The figure translates to roughly 8,000 to 10,700 registered voters, with a majority of them being ethnic Chinese living in Pekan Nanas. This is based on last year’s census of Tanjung Piai’s 53,528 registered voters.
This situation has created a last-minute scramble by political campaigners to reach out to the voters via their family networks and also social media by the three main contenders.
On November 5, Director-General of Immigration Khairul Dzaimee Daud and Election Commission secretary Mohamed Elias Abu Bakar in a joint statement said that special lanes would be opened at the immigration counters at Bangunan Sultan Iskandar in Johor Baru and Sultan Abu Bakar Complex at the Second Link crossing near Gelang Patah.
The special lanes will be opened for Singapore-based Tanjung Piai voters to return to vote in the by-election there tomorrow.
Tan, who is also the Skudai assemblyman, admitted that its a tough call this time round for PH as both MCA and Gerakan have also aggressively stepped-up their campaign.
“The situation is different this time round as the competition is very close for the three main parties contesting,” he said.
On the main Opposition front, Johor BN chief Datuk Hasni Mohammad said the machinery through its Jalinan Muafakat unit has been active in reaching out to Tanjung Piai’s outstation voters.
He said the majority of the outstation voters are ethnic Chinese, and MCA has conducted its campaigns individually, reaching out to every household in an effort to get their family members to return and vote tomorrow.
Hasni, who is also BN’s Tanjung Piai by-election director, pointed out that this time round their efforts were not a “blanket” campaign to get outstation voters to return.
“For BN, every vote counts even at the last hour. In fact, BN’s Tanjung Piai by-election candidate Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng has been personally going to individual households to get families to encourage their members to return home and cast their vote.
“This is the best that we can do and we won’t be organising any bus service for the outstation voters this time round,” said Hasni, who is also the Johor Opposition leader.
For Gerakan, its president Datuk Dominic Lau said the party has been trying their best to reach out to outstation voters that are mainly Chinese through households, family connections and friends.
“This is the only way, and at the same time we have been utilising social media to also reach out to the outstation voters,” he said when contacted.
Lau agreed that despite being the last day today, outstation voters who are mainly Chinese are crucial for the party.
He said the party’s machinery has been busy going house-to-house to remind the family who have members outstation to return home and cast their votes tomorrow.
“Gerakan is confident of making an impact in the Tanjung Piai by-election, especially with outstation voters, who wanted a political third force to make a difference,” said Lau.
The Tanjung Piai by-election will see a six-way contest between PH’s Karmaine Sardini, BN’s Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng, Gerakan’s Wendy Subramaniam, Berjasa’s Datuk Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz, and two independent candidates Ang Chuan Lock and Faridah Aryani Abdul Ghaffar.
Polling is scheduled for tomorrow.
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