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Malaysian Indian woos voters

Songs of late MGR come handy for a candidate who seeks votes for the opposition, invoking people power.

india Updated: Feb 29, 2008 11:56 IST

Inspiring songs of late MG Ramachandran (MGR), Tamil cinema's eternal hero till the eighties, come handy for a Malaysian Indian candidate who seeks votes for the opposition, invoking

Makkal Sakthi

(peoples power).

With wife Kalairasi in toe, P Ramasamy, a political scientist, seeks vote for the opposition Democratic Action Party (DAP) for the March 8 polls.

The candidate for the Batu Kawan parliamentary seat, which is also contesting a seat for the Perai state legislature, "has taken a leaf from Kollywood (Tamil film industry) to woo Indian voters," reports The Star newspaper.

"Sporting a neatly-trimmed grey beard, Ramasamy resembles an ageing rock singer rather than a political scientist.

"Just before nomination day Sunday, he trimmed his greying hair, making him look some five years younger," the newspaper said.

Ramasamy and his wife Kalairasi did their walk-about in Sungai Bakap segment of the constituency despite the rain Thursday to woo voters.

Ramasamy is a Tamil, whose ancestors migrated from India during the British colonial era. The Tamils comprise much of the 2.5 million ethnic Indian communities that form eight per cent of the 27 million population of Malaysia.

Ramasamy, 58, a political novice, is pitted against ruling coalition Barisan Nasional's hevyweight, Koh Tsu Koon, 59, in one of the hotly contested parliamentary seats in country.

Dr Koh, who is contesting in his seventh general election, "is expected to win easily but some quarters are not ruling out Ramasamy emerging as a giant killer," says the newspaper.

This is because Indians, who comprise 23.7 per cent of the 47,378 voters in Batu Kawan (Chinese 55.5 per cent and the rest Malays) are said to be unhappy with the state government for neglecting them over the years.

In the last elections, Barisan Nasional candidate Hun Cheng Guan won the seat by a mere 2,446 votes after taking into account the total number of votes secured by the two opposition candidates.

Knowing that he is the underdog, Ramasamy is going all out to woo Indian and Chinese voters.

At a rally Wednesday night, an MGR song blared the moment Ramasamy was invited to address the 300-odd crowd.

Another MGR song was played when he ended his speech, said The Star correspondent.

Displaying his gung-ho spirit, Ramasamy said he was ready to debate hot issues in parliament.

"Koh is a nice and humble person. But, do you think he has the courage to stand up against Umno?" he repeatedly asked the Chinese crowd during the walk-about.

Umno is the party of the indigenous Malays who form the majority population of Malaysia.