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DAP must face the reality that some Chinese voters are returning to BN. They showed this not only in Teluk Intan recently, but also in Sungai Limau last November and in Kajang last March.

The shifts were slight, but they cannot be dismissed as coincidental or unimportant. DAP must dig deep to find out the reason or reasons.

In the case of Teluk Intan, at least one reason is obvious. DAP did not correctly read the ground sentiment in the rural constituency. To borrow an expression from Sun Tzu’s The Art of War, DAP failed to “understand the terrain”.

The Chinese voters believed that Gerakan’s Mah Siew Keong could bring development to Teluk Intan because federal funding would be available to him. After all, he had not stopped working for the constituency even after losing in the 13th general election.

Furthermore, the Chinese did not want Mah to lose face by being defeated by a young girl, and a political newbie at that.

As for DAP’s Indian supporters, they wanted M Manogaran, who served Teluk Intan from 2008 to 2013. Indeed, they considered the seat his.

Said Manogaran: “The Indian voters were upset that I was sent to Cameron Highlands for GE13, but when Seah Leong Ping passed away, there was a golden opportunity for me to come back. The Indians told me they were unhappy with DAP. Some of them vented their anger at the ballot box.”

Throughout Perak, in fact, many DAP grassroots members think Dyana was too young and inexperienced to be sent to a rural area. They feel she should have waited to contest for an urban seat in the next general election.

Of course, Dyana’s performance was impressive. She lost to a veteran by only 238 votes. And the loss could also be explained by citing the low voter turnout of 66%. Low voter turnouts always put the opposition at a disadvantage.

Nevertheless, the thought of BN being able to take a seat that the late Seah won so handsomely just about a year ago should give us pause. And DAP must keep this in mind as it plans for the 14th general election.

The first thing that the party must do is set up a think tank consisting of corporate planners, journalists and independent pollsters. Ideas from the grassroots and opinions in urban as well as rural areas need to be taken into consideration.

DAP needs a think tank from which the leadership can cull ideas generated by a team dedicated to the business of analysing political trends. It needs to move away from depending merely on the opinions and suggestions of one or two MPs.

Having a think tank will enable DAP to source for ideas and suggestions from a wider range of people. Politics is a game for the fast and furious, and DAP must certainly change its style of play. It can begin by admitting that it made a tactical blunder in Teluk Intan. The great thing about mistakes is that you can learn from them.

Read more here: Free Malaysia Today

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