Charles Santiago: Klang 7-cornered fight because I’m not contesting

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An unprecedented seven-cornered fight is taking place in Klang because of his absence from the contest, claimed the parliamentary seat’s outgoing MP Charles Santiago.

Having held the coastal constituency in Selangor for three terms, he won the recent election in 2018 with a 78,773-vote majority.

He told Malaysiakini recently that reliable sources in a government agency monitoring the elections had confirmed that he would have won the seat with a 100,000-vote majority.

“I was informed that I would have won with a 100k majority vote.

Sayuti Zainudin

“But now the odds have dropped to 50-50,” claimed the DAP politician.

Yesterday, on nomination day for the 15th general election (GE15), it became clear that Klang voters will have to choose among seven candidates, including two independents.

Defending Charles’ record of a steadily increasing majority vote over the past 15 years is his party colleague V Ganabatirau.

The Kota Kemuning state assemblyperson’s candidacy announcement came amid an outpouring of support and appeals from constituents to retain Charles as the incumbent.

Reluctant to comment further on Ganabatirau’s candidacy, Charles indicated that multiple candidates vying for the seat was “an issue” for DAP.

However, Charles was more perplexed by Ganabatirau’s appeal in the media for his support to campaign in GE15.

“It’s very strange for Ganabatirau to ask me, over the media, to campaign for him.

“He could have asked me personally. It seems to hint that he needs my endorsement to win given the recent unprecedented backlash that we have seen,” Charles said.

The decision to drop the incumbent MP received backlash from Klang voters and those who worked with Charles in his many roles fighting for rights or shining a light on injustices.

That includes his most recent endeavour when he sought a court order to halt the snap general election.

Internet users in Klang and across Malaysia took to social media objecting to the decision to replace him.

Some shared their knowledge of Charles’ work, including being a chairperson for the Asean Parliamentarians for Human Rights group.

Sometime in early September, following speculation that he might be dropped, Klang business groups, community associations, and NGOs made public their wishes to retain him.

Some even went as far as commissioning a survey to determine the consequences of dropping Charles.

However, once Selangor DAP president Gobind Singh Deo confirmed Ganapathy’s candidacy, Charles urged his supporters to rally behind DAP’s choice for Klang.

On Ganabatirau’s claim that his work as an assemblyperson will give him leverage on the ground, Charles said election results are difficult to predict.

“He (Ganabatirau) also believes people will vote for the party symbol since there is a general fervour to vote out Umno.

“In my opinion, it’s very difficult to read ground sentiments as people are keeping their votes close to their chest.

“But I wish Ganabatirau well and, again, ask the people to vote in the Pakatan Harapan government,” said Charles reiterating his endorsement for his replacement.

Charles added that he was out of the country and had other travels scheduled but would return in time to join Harapan’s campaign trail.

Today is day two of campaigning for GE15 and Charles’ advice to candidates was to get their respective plans for the constituency out to the public.

“No point saying it two days before polling day because no one is going to read it.

“Whether it’s flood mitigation, upgrading, or anything else, the candidates need to express it,” he advised.

The water rights activist-turned-lawmaker shared that campaigning was at two levels – the first being the selection of one coalition over the other – Harapan, Perikatan Nasional, or BN.

“But on the ground, Klang has very specific problems that need to be tackled like coastal flooding and rising sea levels threatening to permanently inundate river fringes and coastlines.

“Because of the glaciers that collapsed in Antarctica recently, 50-year projections of sea level rise have been brought forward to 30 years.

“So, the plans for the town need to be on the table now because implementation itself could take five to 10 years,” he advised.

Those successful in registering their candidacy to contest in Klang were:

  1. Dr Jaya Chandran Prumal (Perikatan Nasional)
  2. Hedrhin Ramli @ Awin (Independent)
  3. Tee Hooi Ling (BN)
  4. Dr Loo Cheng Wee (Warisan)
  5. Chandrasegar (Parti Rakyat Malaysia)
  6. V Ganabatirau (Pakatan Harapan)
  7. Deepak Jaikishan (Independent)

With about 210,000 voters, Klang was 55 percent Chinese, 27 percent Malay, 17 percent Indian, and one percent others in the 2018 election.

It is a mixed development of residential, commercial, and entertainment, and has numerous industrial zones largely owing to the country’s main port situated there. – Malaysiakini