PETALING JAYA : Gaining a 29,038-vote majority over a political opponent must be a daunting task for some, but for DAP’s three-term Ipoh Barat MP M Kulasegaran, it’s been a tale of hard work and never giving up.
Kula beat the MCA’s Cheng Wei Yee in 2013 by the 29,038 margin after securing 45,420 votes in the Chinese majority seat.
Kula had only beaten the MCA’s Ho Cheong Sing by a razor thin margin of 598 votes in 2004, before punching ahead with a comfortable 15,534-vote majority against the MCA’s Yik Phooi Hong in 2008.
A popular figure in Ipoh, the lawyer was a central figure in fighting for the landmark ruling involving M Indira Gandhi who won her case after a nine-year battle.
Kula was one of the lawyers who represented Indira Gandhi who had gone to court in 2009 for a declaration that the conversion of her children to Islam by her ex-husband without her consent was null and void. In January this year, the Federal Court ruled that consent from both parents was needed to change the religion of their children and voided the April 2, 2009, unilateral conversion of her three children.
Kula is also known for taking up pro-bono cases of people living in squatter areas, and fighting for rights to their land. He is also famous for voicing out the many issues affecting the Indian community, including the demolition of temples.
Fighting for cases such as these has made Kula popular among the people, which helps explain the increase in votes that he received at each subsequent election.
Kula looks to solidify that position further in the 14th general election.
However, it has not been roses all the way. Kula lost the contest for the Ipoh Barat seat in 1999 but it proved to be a valuable lesson for him.
“I do not take anything for granted, bearing in mind I had lost here in 1999. Prior to that I was the Teluk Intan MP. So I know how bitter it is to lose.
“I have made constant house to house visits and frequently visit the markets and talk to people there,” he told FMT.
Ipoh Barat is a semi-urban area with 80% of the residents falling into the B40 category, he said.
“I got squatters and farmers here with very little wealthy people in my constituency. There are many temples and churches here as well.
“What is upsetting to everyone is that a substantial number of postal voters are being moved out of this constituency. In principal this is wrong despite postal voters contributing to my loss in 1999. I took this unfairness to the Federal Court but lost.
“However, the sentiment on the ground is generally positive. The situation looks encouraging and promising for me.”
Kula said the opposition could also retain all three state seats under Ipoh Barat – Buntong, Kepayang and Bercham.