PETALING JAYA: Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran is widely tipped to challenge Gerakan president Mah Siew Keong in Teluk Intan, according to sources within the DAP.
Mah, the current Teluk Intan MP, had beaten DAP candidate Dyana Sofya by a razor-thin majority of 238 votes in a by-election in 2014.
Many attributed an Indian vote swing in favour of the Barisan Nasional (BN) and many outstation Chinese not returning home to vote as major factors in the upset.
The Teluk Intan parliamentary seat fell vacant following the death of the DAP’s Seah Leong Peng in May 2014. In GE13, Seah had defeated BN candidate Mah and independent Moralingam Kannan by a majority of 7,313 votes.
Now, according to the sources, the DAP is hoping Kulasegaran, the three-term Ipoh Barat MP, can wrest Teluk Intan back from BN.
When contacted, the former Teluk Intan MP said: “If the party requests me to go there, then I will go.
“When I visit the constituency, people there always tell me that they want me to come there, so if this is requested by the party then I will.”
Kulasegaran became Teluk Intan MP after beating Gerakan’s Chee See Choke in 1997 in a by-election following the death of the incumbent, Gerakan’s Ong Tin Kim.
Gerakan has failed to impress in Teluk Intan, Kulasegaran told FMT.
“One of the drawbacks of Gerakan is that Mah has not delivered on the promises he made during the by-election campaign, which included building a university in the town. Therefore, he has a failed report card.”
During the by-election in 2014, it was reported that Mah had promised to build a university for the town, obtain Unesco heritage listing for the Teluk Intan leaning tower, turn Teluk Intan into an agricultural hub for lower Perak, increase investments and create more WiFi zones.
Kulasegaran is certain DAP can wrest the seat back from BN.
“In the by-election, the factor that was not considered was that many outstation voters would not come back to vote, but this time they will be there to vote. We should be able to take back the seat.”
Former BN Sungkai assemblyman R Ganesan, a former Perak assembly speaker, said Mah could retain the seat provided he received support from the Malays.
“The strength of Umno is crucial in keeping Teluk Intan as we know the Chinese are with DAP. The division among the Malays must be addressed as there are quite a number of Malay voters in Teluk Intan.
“You can see that the Indian support returned to BN during the by-election, although the majority was slim. I was the chairman of Perak MIC at that time and I know first-hand how hard we worked to get back the support.
“Everyone knows that the seat was won because Indians had returned to BN. Since the by-election majority was so small, I cannot confidently say that we can win back the seat.
“BN has to work for the seat despite Mah doing a good job over there.
“Mah is quite popular with the Indians and since we are in BN we will surely work to ensure his victory,” he told FMT.
Attempts to get Mah were unsuccessful.