GEORGE TOWN: The Tanjong parliamentary seat, now vacated by Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow after his move to Batu Kawan, has a colourful history with some of Malaysia’s epic electoral battles taking place.
For now, the chase for the 13 parliamentary seats in Penang is going smoothly, both via physical ceramah and on social media, with big guns from Pakatan Harapan, Barisan Nasional and Perikatan Nasional coming out with guns blazing.But the Tanjong seat will be among those that are closely watched.
It brings to mind the fiery battle between DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang and Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon in 1986.
That was when Kit Siang “parachuted” into the seat to try and wrest the seat away from Koh in what was dubbed the “Battle for Tanjong”.
Kit Siang won the keenly-contested match and managed to retain the seat again four years later, which was dubbed Tanjong 2.
This time around, DAP won 14 state seats to deny Barisan a two-thirds majority in the state assembly.Kit Siang also captured the Padang Kota state seat at the expense of then chief minister Tun Dr Lim Chong Eu.
Buoyed by the splendid performance, Kit Siang went into battle full of confidence and vigour for the “Tanjong Three” fight in the Tanjong Bungah state seat in 1995.
He portrayed himself as the “Robocop” who would save all Penangites and lead Penang to greater heights. Posters showing Kit Siang in a Robocop outfit were plastered all over the island.
But the party’s strategy backfired spectacularly. DAP was dealt a crushing blow when not only Kit Siang was toppled by Koh, but the party only managed to win one state seat in Batu Lancang in that election.
Fast forward to today, the battle for Tanjong is shaping up to be a real thriller with two women candidates in Tan Kim Nee (MCA) and Kit Siang’s daughter Hui Ying (DAP) in the fray.
Tan, 38, has been with the MCA for the past 17 years while Lim, 59, is a one-term senator.
Although both Tan and Hui Ying will be contesting in GE15 for the first time, the latter has more pedigree as she comes from a famous family in the Malaysian political scene. Her older brother is Guan Eng, the former finance minister and former Penang chief minister.
Gerakan’s (Perikatan Nasional) H’ng Khoon Leng, 58, is the dark horse in the fight.
One thing is for sure, it won’t be a shoo-in for anyone.
“Penang lang (Penangites) are quite rebellious and unpredictable. You can’t predict which way they are going to vote,” said Chiew, a trader at the Esplanade.
“However, we are also quite loyal. We don’t easily forget a good leader.”
Another Tanjong voter, KK Loh, said nothing could be taken for granted in GE15.
“Although this constituency has been a DAP stronghold, voters may want a change after so many years. I’m keeping my options open,” he said.
As of Sept 15, the Tanjong parliamentary seat has 52,859 voters with the majority being Chinese at 43,019 voters, followed by Indians (5,990), Malays (5,451) and others (399).