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MIC Devamany vs PSM Jeyakumar

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KUALA LUMPUR – Sungai Siput member of parliament Dr Jeyakumar Devaraj remains calm yet pragmatic about facing his opponent Datuk S.K. Devamany in the coming general election.

MIC officials said today that incumbent Cameron Highlands MP Devamany was expected to contest in Sungai Siput, apparently making way for party president Datuk Seri G Palanivel to be fielded in Cameron Highlands, as reported in The Star.

“It’s not much of a surprise because they’ve been talking about Palanivel contesting in Cameron for quite some time,” Dr Jeyakumar said

“It’s not an easy feat for opposition to win in Sungai Siput. The only time BN lost in Sungai Siput was in the last election (2008) and that was partly because of the vote swing and the Hindraf factor,” he said.

Dr Jeyakumar also alleged that his service center had been struggling in the last four years “as they (BN) have been using money.”

“They (BN) denied me money and access to government machinery. They’ve been using these (state government funds and machinery) for their own political benefit,” he claimed.

He explained that, as a result of the lax facilities, his service center had been operating more like a non-government organization.

He said while BN was making use of the state facilities to give handouts such as hampers, cash and laptops, his team was focusing more on managing issues relating to land ownership, identity cards, birth certificates and land evictions.

When asked if he was confident of defending his seat, Dr Jeyakumar chose to be realistic.

“No. I don’t think I am (confident). You’ll never know if you’re confident or not until the last minute (of polls). It all depends on how the people evaluate our efforts.

“There are things that we haven’t been able to do since Nizar (Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin of PAS) was replaced as Perak Menteri Besar,” he said referring to the power tussle over the state assembly and government in 2009.

When asked on the present political leanings of Sungai Siput voters, Dr Jeyakumar said he was unsure.

“It’s difficult to say unless someone does a proper survey. The people who ask us for help tend to be those who support us. Malaysians are not the sort who’d tell you to your face (whether they like you or not).”

He also explained that, traditionally, BN was more effective in wooing voters in the rural and semi-urban areas where the majority are poor. This, he said, was because the underprivileged tend to be more receptive to handouts compared to the higher-earning urban folks.

MIC lost its Sungai Siput seat to Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) when incumbent and then MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu was defeated by Dr Jeyakumar in 2008.

Devamany, who is MIC vice-president and a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, was elected to the House of Representatives in the 2004 election for Cameron Highlands.

He held his seat in the 2008 election despite widespread losses by MIC, leaving him as one of only three MIC members of the Dewan Rakyat.
– mD