Umno: Last chance for MIC to redeem itself in Sungai Siput

Sungai Siput Umno division secretary Zamri Saludin showing a list of Indians who have pledged their support to Barisan Nasional.

SUNGAI SIPUT: MIC has been given notice that should it fail to regain the Sungai Siput parliamentary seat in Perak in the upcoming polls, the seat will be given to another Barisan Nasional component in future polls.

According to Sungai Siput Umno division secretary Zamri Saludin, the state BN was torn on who should get to stand in the hotly-contested seat.

“This is the best chance we have to win the seat as the Malays are divided among Umno, PKR and PAS while the support from Indians is at its highest for BN.

“This is based on surveys we have conducted in the constituency. From the survey, we found that we have 65% of the Indian support,” Zamri told FMT when met at the Wisma Umno in Sungai Siput here today.

He claimed the survey also revealed that BN had the support of 70% of the Malays and 25% of the Chinese.

Zamri also revealed that some BN leaders in the state had called for the seat to be given to another BN party but changed their minds when they learned that MIC deputy president S K Devamany would contest it.

“If Devamany loses, BN will definitely change the strategy to win the seat back in the next general election.

“This would be MIC’s last chance to win the seat. If they lose, I do not know what else they can do to win.

“We would need to change our strategy here because if we lose again, then maybe the support from Indians is not good enough.”

PSM’s Michael Jeyakumar will be defending the seat and is expected to have a tough time retaining it with Pakatan Harapan, represented by PKR, possibly splitting votes for the opposition.

He won the seat in 2008 and 2013, both times running on a PKR ticket under an agreement reached with the then Pakatan Rakyat opposition coalition to face BN in straight fights.

Zamri believes that BN’s chances are much better now, thanks to Devamany.

“We have a bright chance with Devamany leading the challenge to win back the seat as the support for the opposition has been reduced following the split,” he said referring to the demise of Pakatan Rakyat in 2015, with PAS going its own way, leaving DAP and PKR to form a new alliance with PAS splinter, Amanah.

“PAS here is much stronger than PKR, while PSM is only seen when there are protests.”

Meanwhile, Devamany has received the endorsement of eight-term Sungai Siput MP S Samy Vellu, who held the seat from 1973 to 2008.

“Yesterday, Samy Vellu came for Devamany’s events and you can see that the people remember him and even the Chinese came for the events because they recognise him.

“We can capitalise on his popularity here.”

Indian and Chinese voters make up about 70% of the Sungai Siput electorate while Malays form the remaining 30%.

Jeyakumar, a PSM central committee member, won a major victory by ousting Samy Vellu in 2008.

He won with a majority of 1,821 votes but retained the seat with an increased 2,793-vote margin in 2013 when he was challenged by Devamany.