PETALING JAYA: PSM strongman Michael Jeyakumar has voiced concern over the possibility of Barisan Nasional taking the Sungai Siput parliamentary seat from him if PAS and Pakatan Harapan enter the fray in the coming election.
A multicorner fight could reinstate BN in Sungai Siput in spite of indications that people were unhappy with the coalition, he told FMT.
“The people want to see a one-to-one fight, not a four-corner or five-corner fight,” he said.
He recalled that he got one-third of the Malay votes in 2013 and acknowledged that the help he got from PAS had a lot to do with it.
He said PAS had been in Sungai Siput for a long time and enjoyed strong grassroots support. “But now PAS is saying it is going to put up its own candidate. It is telling its supporters not to vote for anyone else.”
Pakatan has told PSM that Jeyakumar could contest in Sungai Siput if he would do so on the PKR ticket and if the party agreed not to put up candidates anywhere else.
“The exclusion means party central committee member S Arulchelvan, secretary B Suresh and deputy chairperson M Saraswathy cannot stand for election,” he said. “This is a condition we can’t accept.”
In GE13, Jeyakumar successfully defended the seat against MIC’s SK Devamany, scoring a majority of 2,793 votes. Of the 40,000 who voted, 39% were Chinese, 33% Malays and 21% Indians.
He noted that only 55% of the Indians voted for him.
Jeyakumar earned the sobriquet Giant Killer in 2008, when he unseated S Samy Vellu from Sungai Siput. Samy was then president of MIC and one of the most senior members of the federal cabinet.
He told FMT there had been talk that MIC would like Samy to go for the seat again “because some of the Indians would get a lot of allocations and contracts” if he were to retake the seat.
“But the poorer Indians who have trouble with the Employees Provident Fund and housing, for example, obviously would like me to win again.”
According to him, PSM has a good reputation in Sungai Siput for being active in helping marginalised groups.
“We would label all the small villages, conduct surveys, map the areas and bring up the issues to the state government,” he said, crediting PSM’s “Peneroka Bandar” team for the success of such work.
He said the team had dealt with many issues, such as the difficulty faced by indigenous communities, farmers and migrant workers in trying to get low-cost flats.
“I have taken up these issues to Parliament and put pressure on government agencies,” he said. “I don’t play the race or religion game.
“People know PSM does not go into politics for the money but for the community. I think the people appreciate that.”