Port Dickson, 28 Feb – The sea-side town of Port Dickson, known as the parliamentary constituency Teluk Kemang, will be one of the closely watched seats by political observers as the GE-13 approaches.
The seat is currently held by PKR and a MIC candidate is expected to contest under the Barisan Nasional (BN) banner.
In an attempt to prop up support for PKR in Teluk Kemang and to campaign for Pakatan Rakyat in Negeri Sembilan opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim(pic) is scheduled to arrive in Port Dickson to speak in a massive gathering and to meet the party officials.
Pakatan Rakyat is also confident of capturing Negeri Sembilan state in the forthcoming general election and has been actively campaigning towards that aim.
The MIC candidate has not been announced yet for Teluk Kemang but for the last few weeks internal bickering intensified over the choice of candidate.
Dato S.Sothinathan who is a local and a former Vice President of MIC was the MP of Teluk Kemang until 2008 but he lost the seat to PKR by a margin of 2,804 votes.
Sothi who enjoys support from local MIC Teluk Kemang division and other local BN parties has been pressuring party leadership to field him again in the constituency but MIC President Dato Seri G.Palanivel is determined to field Dato S.Murugesan, the current Secretary-General of MIC.
Sothi, who stays in Port Dickson, has been working actively for the last 5 years in the constituency with the hope of securing the seat once again. His supporters on several occasions have voiced their support for his candidature in the Tamil media.
As a final attempt to gain the attention of BN leadership, hundreds of Sothi’s supporters held a demonstration holding banners and demanding that Sothi should be fielded again in Teluk Kemang, when Prime Minister Najib visited Port Dickson last week,
In response Palanivel warned that action would be taken against MIC branch chairmen and members who demonstrated during the Prime Minister’s visit recently.
A few days ago, Palanivel himself visited Port Dickson to distribute government grants to NGOs in the region and Sothinathan was conspicuously absent in the function, which indicated that their relationship is still sour. The absence of Sothi is said to be a snub to the party president.
Sothi stood against Palanivel for Deputy President in 2009 MIC elections in a three-cornered fight and lost and since then both have been at loggerheads.
MIC circles said that Palanivel is not interested in bringing back Sothi to mainstream party politics again and to give him a life-line by fielding him in Teluk Kemang, because he might pose a threat to his leadership in the party.
Murugesan moves in Teluk Kemang
One the other hand S.Murugesan, the blue-eyed boy of party President has been making frequent visits to Teluk Kemang to gauge the situation and to garner support from local MIC leaders.
Murugesan contested in Subang in 2008 and lost. Subang is expected to be swapped with MCA or UMNO in exchange for Padang Serai in Kedah.
Even, if Subang is given back to MIC it would be an uphill task to regain the seat which has a large segment of affluent and educated voters who are inclined to vote for the opposition. Sivarasa from PKR is the current MP of Subang.
Therefore, in an attempt to switch constituency, Murugesan has chosen Teluk Kemang. However, the resistance from local MIC leaders and Sothi himself may spoil his chances of winning the seat.
Several factors against MIC in Teluk Kemang…
Several factors are stacked against the MIC candidate set to contest in Teluk Kemang, whether it is Sothi or Murugesan.
Local MIC leaders point out that Sothi may have a better chance of winning because of his presence and past services there but even then it would be an uphill task.
The MIC candidate will also have to face the wrath of Muthu Palaniappan a former MIC state assemblyman for Si Rusa (the state seat which comes under Teluk Kemang) who has since defected to PKR.
M.Ravi the current PKR state assemblyman for Si Rusa is also said to be immensely popular among locals due to his active social service and is likely to be considered as a candidate again for the same state seat.
There are also talks in PKR circles that Ravi himself may be fielded as the PKR candidate for Teluk Kemang.
Above all, as the internal bickering intensifies in Teluk Kemang MIC, all eyes would be on Sothi’s next move, in the event he is denied the seat.
Some say he might accept the bitter decision and move on supporting the party leadership and may even throw his support for Murugesan since he might be harbouring for an active role in MIC again in view of the party elections scheduled to take place after GE-13.
Some say, in the alternative, he may even go against the leadership of MIC by contesting as an independent in Teluk Kemang, just to spoil the chances of MIC candidate.