Malaysia GE2022: Largest Indian party MIC fights for survival in Perak

Malaysia GE2022: Largest Indian party MIC fights for survival in Perak

IPOH – The Malaysian Indian Congress (MIC), the largest Indian party in the country, is facing an uphill battle for its political survival in the state of Perak, a major swing state in the general election. A poor showing in the west coast state will likely leave the Umno ally without an MP in Parliament.

MIC’s top two leaders are contesting in parliamentary wards in Malaysia’s fourth-largest state. But with the party left without a safe seat in Malaysia’s fragmented political landscape, it will have to overcome bruising battles with the opposition multiracial alliance Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) – led by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim – which is positioning itself as an alternative to MIC.

MIC deputy president Saravanan Murugan is defending his Tapah ward, the only seat the party had in Parliament before it was dissolved, while MIC president Vigneswaran Sanasee is contesting in the Sungai Siput ward, a former party stronghold but which has become a PKR seat in the past three elections.

Since 2008, MIC has lost Sungai Siput, Segamat, Teluk Kemang (now Port Dickson) and Hulu Selangor to PKR.

Tan Sri Vigneswaran has set his sights on regaining Sungai Siput, once considered the traditional seat of the MIC president.

He has spared no expense in his campaign – dominating the flag and banner wars, and delivering aid, including financial and basic essentials, to constituents. But he faces the tall order of overturning a deficit of 5,607 votes, achieved by PKR opponent and incumbent Kesavan Subramaniam.

Mr Kesavan has not lost an election since 2008, while Mr Vigneswaran last contested a seat in that same year.

For Mr Jayakumaran, a 53-year-old odd-job worker in Sungai Siput, a win for Mr Vigneswaran will be good mainly due to his perceived ability to deliver aid to the constituents, but he still feels that Mr Anwar’s PKR-led Pakatan Harapan (PH) should form the federal government.

Meanwhile, Mr Kesavan has delivered aid to more than 5,000 families here and is generally regarded as having done a decent job in the first term.

Sungai Siput has 72,452 voters, out of which 20 per cent are Indians and 10 per cent are Orang Asli. Chinese voters form 34 per cent of the electorate and are considered to be a secure vote bank for PH.

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