INFIGHTING in Bersatu might see the party field an outsider for the Semenyih by-election on March 2, a party source said.
This move, however, may not please the grassroots as they prefer a local candidate, they added.
“The grassroots want a local candidate, like (Hulu Langat Bersatu deputy chief) Rais Zulkifli. He fights for the people and is active in the constituency,” the source told The Malaysian Insight.
“Rais was also an active member when Bersatu was in the opposition.”
In recent weeks, banners have emerged in Semenyih protesting against a supposed list of candidates shortlisted by Bersatu, sparking claims that the party is divided over the candidate.
Rais, however, has denied this, telling The Malaysian Insight that the banners were put up to rattle them.
“This is an act of provocation by outsiders, not by Bersatu members themselves,” Rais said, adding that Bersatu had 1,800 members in Hulu Langat.
“They want to divide us and make us fight among ourselves. But we have no misunderstandings.”
Rais said Bersatu will instead focus on strengthening its machinery to claim victory in the Semenyih by-election.
“We want to put aside the issue of the candidate first. The list has been sent so we will leave it to the leadership to decide.
“As for us, all our members understand that now is the time for us to focus on the by-election campaign.”
Rais added that while the final decision on the candidate is up to the leadership, a local one is the smarter choice.
“If that is the decision of the leadership, we will accept it. But the people here want a local candidate.”
Six candidates have been shortlisted and their names submitted to the party leadership.
The by-election is held following the death of Pakatan Harapan assemblyman Bakhtiar Mohd Nor, 57, of a heart attack on January 11. Nomination is on February 16.
Speculation has also surfaced that pop queen Siti Nurhaliza Tarudin has been shortlisted, which she has since denied.
Recently, Umno portal Watan Online published an online poll asking its readers to vote between Siti Nurhaliza and Umno Puteri chief Zahida Zarik Khan as their choice for Semenyih rep.
It has been reported that Umno, too, has shortlisted six names for the by-election and may also field an outsider.
Parti Sosialis Malaysia, meanwhile, said yesterday it will contest the by-election, keeping with its tradition since 2008, although without much success.
DAP scoffs at Umno-PAS pact, says Malay votes up for grabs in GE15
THE Malay votes are up for grabs in the next elections and Pakatan Harapan must not get distracted by the possibility of an Umno-PAS alliance amid claims that 60% of Malay voters are unhappy with the ruling pact, said DAP’s Ong Kian Ming.
The results of the five by-elections since GE14 are a better indicator of what the battle for the Malay vote will look like at GE15, said the Bangi MP, while warning PH not to turn into “BN 2.0” in a bid to snare more Malay votes.
“Using PH’s Malay vote share to understand the results of GE14 and more importantly, as a lens to look ahead to GE15, is an erroneous framework,” Ong said, referring to polling expert Merdeka Centre’s analysis that PH’s share of the Malay vote in GE14 at between 25%-30%, Barisan Nasional (35%-40%) and PAS (30%-33%).
Against this backdrop, PH needs to put in place “a systematic plan to win the Malay vote, one step at a time”.
The pact must also not forget the battle for the Bumiputera vote in Sabah and Sarawak – two important vote banks which Umno and PAS seem to have forgotten, he said in a statement yesterday.
In GE14, with the then opposition being split into two – PH and PAS – BN lost at least 20% of its Malay support (from 65% in GE13 to below 45% in GE14).
“Malay voters were mostly voting to choose between keeping the kleptocratic Najib Razak-led BN regime or getting rid of this regime.”
Ong said his own estimates show that BN won about 44% of the Malay vote in the peninsula in GE14, PAS (32%) and PH (24%).
Should the Umno-PAS pact materialise at GE15 and both agree to one-on-one fights against PH, he said, it is still a mistake to assume that PH’s share of the Malay vote will remain at about 25% while all of PAS’ Malay support will go to Umno and vice-versa.
The five by-elections after GE14 last May show no clear and discernible pattern in PH’s Malay support, he said.
It increased the Malay votes by 12% in the Malay-majority Sg Kandis state seat and 35% (from 34% to 69%) in the Chinese-majority Balakong state seat.
There was a drop in the Seri Setia state seat of 11.2% from 49.5% to 38.4% and in the Port Dickson by-election, prime-minister-in-waiting Anwar Ibrahim won against a crowded field by increasing PH’s Malay vote by 18.5% from 29.4% to 47.9%.
Finally, in the recent Cameron Highlands by-election, PH increased its Malay support by a mere 1% when faced with a Orang Asli candidate from BN.
In the upcoming Semenyih by-election in Selangor, pressure will be on PH to increase its share of the Malay vote from the 36.7% it snared in GE14.
What the five results show is that no party can assume that PAS’s Malay support will go to BN in a head-to-head fight with PH or PAS’ support from anti-BN supporters will go to PH.
A better gauge the political prospects for PH and Umno-PAS will be the Sarawak elections which must be held by 2021.
Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS) will fight tooth and nail against PH to maintain control of the state government while Umno and PAS will have to find a new campaign narrative or remain politically irrelevant in the largest state in Malaysia, Ong said.
Whatever the outcome, he said, PH should not try to win Malay support by becoming BN 2.0. Pro-rakyat and targeted policies which benefit the B40, he said, is a better bet to increase Malay support for PH.