SIBU, May 13 — The DAP candidate in the by-election here, Wong Ho Leng, had a highly-publicised lunch with his family today at a local stall to show his commitment to defend “the Sibu way of life”.
“The SUPP said when DAP wins there will be no kampua mee. But look here, my children love kampua, I love kampua so there will always be kampua in Sibu for my children and their children too,” said Wong.
Since Monday, the Barisan Nasional (BN) campaign has put up billboards across the constituency to tell the urban Foochow Chinese voters that their traditional noodle is under threat should DAP win Sunday’s by-election.
Some of the kampua billboards also carry the message “A Vote for the DAP is a Vote for an Islamic state”, in reference to the party’s ties with PAS in Pakatan Rakyat (PR).
“That is rubbish, DAP is not for Islamic state. No voter has asked me about Islamic state during my campaign,” claimed Wong, who was still confident of winning.
Locals met in the town centre also appeared clueless about the Islamic state issue or PAS’s political agenda.
“I will just put a sign out there saying this shop is non-halal. So the Muslims are informed that they cannot eat here,” said a kampua mee seller, who only wanted to be known as Hieh when asked about what he understands by Islamic law.
“But I don’t think anything will happen. The Muslims here know where they can go and where they cannot go,” said the aged Hieh, who did not believe that a different community that he rarely deals with could change his way of life.
Another local resident, Michael Loo, told The Malaysian Insider that the Sibu voters are not familiar with PAS’s “fiery speech” making it almost impossible to instil a fear of the Islamic state.
Wong (second from left) and his family enjoying traditional Foochow kampua mee in Sibu today, May 13, 2010 — Picture by Adib Zalkapli
“PAS does not exist here and nobody reads about them so they don’t know about the laws they were trying to introduce in the peninsula,” he said, referring to the attempt to enact Islamic laws in Kelantan and Terengganu.
“The older people they don’t access the Internet and also don’t know about Umno and their stunts in KL,” said Loo, who studied in a Petaling Jaya college in 1990s.
DAP campaign workers claimed that it was not the first time that the BN campaign is using the Islamic state issue in Sarawak, saying that it no longer works after PR’s success in ruling Perak and Selangor after Election 2008.
Party veteran Lim Kit Siang had said that the fear of Islamic state is a killer weapon in this campaign but PR leaders have vowed to break the perceived fear of East Malaysian voters to PAS.
However, a local BN leader admitted that voters especially the urban Chinese did not pay much attention to the ideological divide among PR parties as they are concerned with the regular floods and the road conditions.
“The Chinese voters here felt they have not been rewarded accordingly after supporting the SUPP assemblyman here,” said the party official, who spoke anonymously.
Sibu’s largest state constituency, Pelawan, situated in the heart of the town, was retained by BN in the 2006 state election, the year SUPP lost six other urban state seats, which was its worst electoral performance.
The Chinese form about 67 per cent of the 54,695 Sibu voters.
In Election 2008, the late Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew retained the seat for BN but the coalition failed to get the majority of the Chinese votes in Pelawan.
“It is easy to say SUPP cannot win Chinese votes. But the reality is their problems are not being looked at,” he said.