I do not know any of the three contestants in Padang Serai.
N Gobalakrishnan became famous when he was supporting Anwar's cause and PKR. But when he lost the expected VP post in PKR to N Surendran (who happens to be his present opponent besides MCA's Heng Seai Kie), he created enough trouble and was duly sacked from PKR.
This contest is mainly between PKR's Surendran and BN MCA's Heng Seai Kie, with Gobalakrishnan thrown in as spoiler. I heard much about Surendran from newspaper reports on the PKR cases which he acted for.
I do not know Heng, but I know despite the different spelling, we share the same surname in Chinese. I can still remember my wife and others who asked, 'Who's this Heng Seai Kie?' when her name kept appearing in the papers and on tv, because of her post as Deputy Minister, after she was appointed a senator. She seemed to have appeared from nowhere and got much publicity.
In the past, Chinese would support Chinese candidates out of loyalty to race. Since Heng shares the same surname as me, it would have been expected of the Ongs, Wongs, Wangs and Hengs to vote in support of someone of the same surname. Ongs' clansmen association of the town would help to rally support for her. Not anymore. These days, race-based political parties are on the way out. It is unfortunate that Heng is associated with one, MCA, which in turn is associated with a bigger one, Umno. Through no fault of hers, she will be judged as a passive supporter of Umno-led BN's unfair policies and excesses.
Here is another example of different loyalties. Recently, at a dinner, a mother commented about who she will support in case her daughter's in-law will be contesting. (No mistake there, not daughter-in-law). She said she will vote according to party (DAP) and not the candidate (MCA)!
Having said all that, if I were a voter in Padang Serai, I will vote for Surendran because of his track record as a human rights lawyer. I will not vote Gobalakrishnan because he is typical of those who turned against the party, the likes of Zulkifli Nordin and Ezam Mohd Nor, for personal advantage. As for Heng, sorry, mainly because of MCA and indirectly, Umno.
I was inspired by the following article by V Vijay in Malaysia Chronicle:
BATTLE FOR PADANG SERAI: Gobala flailing, Surendran & Seai Kie go head to head!