How independents plan to take on the big guns

PETALING JAYA: Independent candidates contesting in elections normally have neither the funds nor the machinery support to compete with political parties in the battle for flag space or in the distribution of stickers and other campaign materials or the rental of hall space to put their message across to voters.

So how do they plan to carry out their campaigns?

Peter Chong, a hopeful for the Bandar Utama state seat, told FMT he would be cycling around Bandar Utama to drive home one of his key messages: the need to reduce the use of private motor vehicles and increase the use of public transportation.

During the 11-day campaign period, the former Petaling Jaya city councillor will also have dialogues with groups of voters.

“I’ve been planning to contest since 2016 and have been telling this to friends, colleagues and former schoolmates,” he said. “They’ve been donating some money to me so that I can run dialogues and other small programmes.

“I can’t afford to do bigger programmes or hang up banners like political parties. So my plan is to set up 10 tents in Bandar Utama, near residential areas, from where my team of volunteers can pass around leaflets.”

Chong is now looking for donations of tents, which he plans to give away to small traders after the election.

He also said he would go door to door and use social media to canvass for support and ask for RM10 donations for his campaign.

Another potential independent candidate is Ibrahim Ali, the president of Malay rights group Perkasa.

Ibrahim told FMT he was not yet sure how much he would spend to fight for the Pasir Mas parliamentary seat and the Tendong state seat in Kelantan.

He said he would rely on support from businessmen, friends and volunteers.

“Rather than cash, I prefer donations in kind – such as food, drinks, tables and chairs – because I’d have to use the money to buy all this anyway,” he said, adding that the food and drinks would be for his campaign volunteers.

Ibrahim, who previously represented Pasir Mas, having won it in 2008 on a PAS ticket, said his main strategy would be to screen videos.

“We will have ceramahs, but my main strategy is screening three videos that highlight my struggles and efforts.”

He said he planned to have the screenings every night in kampung areas.

Entertainer Azwan Ali, who plans to defeat his brother, Selangor Menteri Besar Mohamed Azmin Ali, said he was not setting a big budget for his campaign.

Azmin is defending his Gombak parliamentary and Bukit Antarabangsa state seats.

Azwan said he would likely contest only for the state seat. He told FMT he planned to leverage on his screen stardom and social media following.

“To win the hearts of the people, you don’t need posters,” he said. “That’s the old style. As a public figure, I can smile at anyone wherever I go. I don’t need to follow the style of politicians. Their old style is not at my level.

“So I’m just going to walk around and be myself. I can go to the people and tell them who Azmin is.”

He said wasn’t planning any ceramahs.

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