KAJANG: Kuan Chee Hong may have lost in yesterday’s Semenyih by-election but “Uncle Kentang”, as he is fondly known, sees his defeat as a victory of sorts for independent candidates.
“Nobody contests (as an independent candidate) and gets 700-over votes,” said Kuan, who won 725 votes.
“That was remarkable and I believe this is a beginning of a trend of independent candidates getting more votes.”
Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Zakaria Hanafi won with a 1,914-vote majority last night by securing 19,780 votes. He beat Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) Muhammad Aiman Zainali, who obtained 17,866 votes.
PSM’s Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul won 847 votes.
Speaking to FMT outside the Dewan Seri Cempaka here yesterday, Kuan, 56, who is also known as the “10 sen man”, said more independent candidates with their hearts in the right place should follow in his footsteps and contest.
He said he only expected a “handful of votes, about 100 to 200”.
“So, this is definitely a new trend. I believe we can spearhead this in the future.”
The RM5,000 and RM10,000 deposit paid to the Election Commission to contest in a state and federal seat, respectively, is forfeited if the candidate fails to obtain one-eighth of the total votes.
Kuan, a former police officer is unfazed by this. His mission to help the hardcore poor and underprivileged in places like Semenyih or in Puchong, where he is sometimes based, carries on.
“It’s a defeat but actually we won a lot of hearts, a lot of smiles and a lot of selfies,” he said with a smile, adding that he has since created a “network” of people in Semenyih whom he plans on helping now.
As the philanthropist made clear on his Facebook page many times in the last couple of weeks, he was unable to assist them during the election campaign because he wanted to make sure he did not commit any election offence.
Asked what he thought of the BN candidate winning Semenyih, Kuan said it showed democracy was thriving here, adding that Selangor has more check-and-balance in the state assembly now.
It was BN’s second victory in a by-election since losing power last year and increased the seats for the opposition, namely BN and PAS, to six in the 56-seat state assembly.
Kuan had earlier announced on Facebook that he will be contesting as a parliamentary candidate for the Puchong constituency in the 15th general election.
“That would really, truly be a fight,” he said.
Kuan had previously introduced “Pasar 10 sen” or “10 sen market”, where the less fortunate could buy donated items, such as a washing machine or a piece of clothing, for 10 sen. He also gives out potatoes to the poor.
PSM’s Nik Aziz, 25, also took to Facebook to thank supporters for his 847 votes, saying that he now faces the “real test”.
“Will I do what I said I would do before this – to continue serving (the people of Semenyih) even though I lose? If I don’t, that’s a clear sign that I do not respect those 847 people who placed their trust in me.”
PPBM’s Aiman, the former assemblyman’s son-in-law, also reflected on his loss, and pledged to “strive for the people of Semenyih and work hard to strengthen the party”.
The by-election was triggered by the death of PPBM’s Bakthiar Mohd Nor following a heart attack on Jan 11. He had won a four-cornered contest in the 14th general election with an 8,964-vote majority.
It was the sixth by-election to be held since GE14 following those in Sungai Kandis, Seri Setia, Balakong, Port Dickson and Cameron Highlands.
Of the five earlier by-elections, all were won by PH with the exception of Cameron Highlands, which went to BN.