Mar 7, 2008

ELECTION 2008: Penang's outgoing chief minister last plea for votes

With 60,000 people turned up for last night's DAP talk, maybe it is true that Putrajaya 4th-storey boys rushed in Penang as BN panics at wind of change in polls.

PENANG: In what is believed to be his most pessimistic outlook of the poll results for Penang, Chief Minister Dr Koh Tsu Koon said up to 15 state seats could go to the opposition.

Dr Koh said this in his final news conference as chief minister after 18 years. He also urged residents in Penang to think about their future and endorse the Barisan Nasional government with a convincing victory.

Contending parties for seats in Penang have been busy firing their final salvos with Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi leading the way for the Barisan Nasional.

Election rallies organised by the Barisan Nasional and the opposition parties have been attracting good crowds.

For the Barisan Nasional, their leaders' message is to vote for stability and the future of Malaysia and Malaysians, while the opposition parties have been urging the electorate to deny the ruling coalition a two-third majority on polling day.

As campaigning comes to a close, Penang's outgoing chief minister wraps up his last day of work with a word of caution, especially for those who have yet to make a decision on who to vote for.

Dr Koh said: "I would rather not predict which way it would go except to say that yes, this is the greatest challenge since 1990. And because of that, I would like to urge all our supporters not to take things for granted but to come out to vote so that it would not be a case of complacency, thinking that we would be able to win and thinking we may be able to sustain the present system."

The opposition has attacked the present system and campaigned on what it sees as unfulfilled promises. They claim that the targets set by the government for Penang have not been achieved.

And that is a common strategy adopted by the opposition parties.

Lim Guan Eng, Secretary-General, Democratic Action Party, said: "In all cooperation, there are bound to be hiccups. But I think the fact that we have managed to continue despite all the barriers and hurdles, shows that we are willing to sort out all differences and move forward for the stake of the larger purpose of establishing democracy in Malaysia."

Some seats to watch in Penang include Permatang Pauh, which is currently held by Dr Wan Azizah, the wife of former Deputy Premier Anwar Ibrahim. There is also Batu Kawan, where Dr Koh is contesting for the first time.

Of the next government, Dr Koh said: "It should be a government that can represent all communities in a balanced manner as it has been before."

In a final attempt to woo Indian voters, the Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC) – a component of the Barisan Nasional – has taken out full-page advertisements in all Malaysia's leading newspapers appealing to Malaysian Indians to vote and secure their future.

The MIC said it would "always be there for the Malaysian Indian community, yesterday, today and tomorrow", so it calls on the people not to make an error of judgement in their choice because voting is "not about emotions or perceptions but about the community's future" and more importantly, about continuity and stability.

MIC added that as ordinary human beings and in its attempt to serve the Malaysian Indians better, it agrees that it "could have made some mistakes", but what is important is to overcome them and to move towards excellence.

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