Saturday, January 22, 2022

Voter turnout to decide, analyst says on Sarawak DAP’s bid to unseat SUPP in Batu Kawah

James Chin says it will be difficult to predict the outcome in the event of a straight fight between DAP's Dr Kelvin Yii and SUPP's Dr Sim Kui Hian.

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Any chance of DAP’s Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii unseating SUPP’s incumbent in the hot seat of Batu Kawah at the Sarawak election this month will depend on the voter turnout, a political analyst says as parties begin announcing their candidates for the polls.

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, James Chin of Australia’s University of Tasmania said Yii would stand a chance of toppling SUPP’s Dr Sim Kui Hian if the voter turnout on Dec 18 is high.

“If there is a very high turnout rate then DAP would have a good chance as Yii is quite popular as the MP for Bandar Kuching,” he said.

He also described DAP’s move to field Yii in Batu Kawah as a good strategy to attract young voters.

“He can leverage his popularity in reaching out to Batu Kawah,” he said.

But he cautioned against taking victory for granted as Sim, the president of SUPP, has strong ground support as well.

Batu Kawah, one of seven Chinese-majority seats in Kuching, has traditionally been contested by SUPP.

In 2011, it was won by DAP’s Christina Chiew before Sim wrested it back in 2016, winning a three-way fight with Chiew and independent candidate Liu Thian Leong.

According to recent statistics by the Election Commission, a total of 20,681 people will be eligible to vote in Batu Kawah at the upcoming polls.

Some 71% of these are between 30 and 59 years old while 22% are senior citizens above 59 and 9% are aged 20 to 29.

In order to unseat Sim, Yii will have to depend on his popularity especially among voters in the 30 to 59 age bracket.

Chin said Yii has the advantage in terms of age as he is the younger candidate.

“He will likely appeal to the younger voters,” he said.

However, he believes that competition will be stiff for the seat, predicting a multi-cornered fight involving as many as seven to eight candidates.

“At a minimum, we might see a four or five-way fight, but I suspect there will be more,” Chin said.

“It could turn out to be up to seven or eight candidates fighting for Batu Kawah.”

For now, he said, it would be a game of wait-and-see as other parties announce their candidates for the polls.

“We have to see how many will contest in Batu Kawah and what credibility they have because it will depend on whether they can draw voters away from the opposition,” he said.

“If it is a straight fight between Sim and Yii, I would say that it would be very difficult to call. Until we know the full range of candidates, it is still too early to predict.”

On Yii’s strategy for approaching the election, Chin said the DAP man had made it clear that the priority is tackling the Covid-19 situation in Sarawak.

“That’s why there is a medical doctor going up against another medical doctor,” he added.

The Sarawak state election will be held on Dec 18. Nomination day will be held on Dec 6, with 12 days of campaigning to follow.

Apart from Batu Kawah, other hot seats include Batu Lintang, Pending, Kota Sentosa, Batu Kawah, Stakan and Batu Kitang, as well as Bawang Assan and Dudong in Sibu.

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