KUALA LUMPUR – May 9, 2016: The upcoming Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar by-elections were expected to be tough for Barisan Nasional (BN) but political analysts believed that current disunity within the opposition bloc may turn the tide for the coalition.
The analysts who spoke to The Mole insisted that if coupled with correct strategies, BN may even do better in both constituencies than during the last general election in 2013.
The by-elections in the two parliamentary seats will be held following the helicopter crash in Sarawak last week which claimed the lives of BN parliamentarians of the constituencies.
Datuk Noriah Kasnon (Sungai Besar) and Datuk Wan Mohammad Khair-il Anuar Wan Ahmad (Kuala Kangsar) were killed with four others in the tragedy.
“It is going to be an uphill task for Umno,” said Universiti Malaysia Sarawak Associate Professor Dr Jeniri Amir, “Especially so given the narrow majority in both constituencies.”
In the last by-election, BN (Umno) won the Malay-majority constituencies after a stiff competition with Pas; Kuala Kangsar by 1,082 and Sungai Besar by 399 majority.
“At that time, national issues like 1MDB, the Goods and Services Tax and the RM2.6 billion political donation have yet to surface.
“If the competition was fierce back then, then Umno should expect no less than that in the upcoming by-elections,” Jeniri said.
Be that as it may, he added that the opposition parties would have an equally trying time in the by-elections given their recent display of disunity.
“With the way things are unfolding right now, a Pas-Amanah spat will likely happen, pretty much like the PKR-DAP feud that happened in the Sarawak election,” said Jeniri.
Jeniri’s opinion was corroborated by Associate Professor Mohd. Azizudin Mohd Sani of Universiti Utara Malaysia.
Azizudin also reasoned that, usually the incumbent party will always have an extra advantage in a by-election.
“And things will be even more advantageous for BN if the both Pas and Amanah were to contest in the by-elections.
“Sentiment-wise, the people might be angry with BN, but they are also, at the same time disappointed with the opposition.”
He insisted that the people’s disappointment with the opposition have grown tremendously after the Sarawak BN’s sweeping victory in the just concluded state election.
The Sarawak state election ended two days ago with a Sarawak BN’s landslide victory where it won in 72 out of the 82 constituencies.
The main opposition party DAP, lost five seats that it won in the previous state election and to the opinion of many, this was a heavy blow to the opposition.
Sarawak BN’s stellar victory was said to be due to the combination of its Chief Minister Tan Seri Adenan Satem’s “feel-good factor” and the opposition incessant spat throughout the poll’s campaigning period.
According to Dr Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, the same scenario will happen in the Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar by-elections.
Though he agreed that Umno was far from fine due to its internal problems, the spat between Amanah and Pas will give it some respite.
“As observed in the Sarawak election where the DAP-PKR quarrel really elevated BN candidates, the Amanah-Pas spat will help Umno candidates in the by-elections as well,” he said.
Even if Amanah is to contest in the by-elections, Azmi was of the opinion that the Pas’ splinter party will only pose little threat to Umno.
“But Pas is a totally different case altogether,” Azmi stressed, “The Islamist party’s threats to Umno is more real.
“Since both constituencies are considered Pas’ strongholds (in the opposition camp), these coming by-elections will be a keen contest between Umno and Pas,” he added.
Interestingly, Azmi, Jeniri, Azizudin, Azmi were in agreement that the majority of Chinese in Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar may likely “boycott” the by-elections.
The analysts were of the opinion that they may likely do so similar to how the Chinese boycotted the opposition in the Sarawak election due largely due to the DAP-PKR fallout there.
“In fact, the Chinese had also did the same en masse boycott during the Teluk Intan by-election (in 2014) due to them being dissatisfied by DAP’s candidate Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud,” Azmi said.