It was really only because of the high stakes involved in the Pengkalan Pasir by-election that the Chinese there had been courted beyond the strength of their numbers. Comprising 863 of 18,411 registered voters, the 4.7% Chinese electoral segment would, under other circumstances, constitute an insignificant percentage.

Making up 2% of the state's projected 1.4 million population, the estimated 28,000 Chinese in Kelantan are an even more negligible fraction of the whole. Common sense dictates that such a small community lacks political clout. Insiders would admit that they generally accept their subordinate position in the Malay-dominated power structure.

A more interesting speculation is how the Kelantan Chinese view their place in the political scheme of things vis--vis Umno and PAS. The Dec 6 face-off in Pengkalan Pasir between the parties' candidates can provide a starting point for discussion. Insofar as concerns race, the Islamist party has somewhat shown its egalitarian credentials by accepting Chinese converts into its fold. PAS state executive councillor Anuar Tan Abdullah, a Chinese, was in fact tasked with weaning away a third of the Pengkalan Pasir Chinese voters.

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