KUALA LUMPUR – April 2, 2019: The outcome of the coming Rantau by-election will likely determine the political future of prime minister-in waiting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, says a prominent political analyst.
Geostrategist Dr Azmi Hassan said a victory for Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate Dr S.Streram should be the “game changer” for Anwar as he tries to solidify his position in the ruling coalition a year to the deadline when Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad was supposed to hand him the premiership.
Azmi stressed that Dr Streram’s fate in the by-election would demonstrate how much weight Anwar holds in PKR and PH.
“Since Dr Streram is Anwar’s chosen candidate, having him winning with a huge majority would demonstrate that Anwar is strategically a genius in politics, considering the general perception in PH towards his choice being deemed as a bad one,” he told The Mole in an interview.
“It will also show that the internal bickering in PKR and PH is not an issue after all. A PH’s win in Rantau would be a good factor to boast, that the people vote based on reality, rather than sentiments,” he added.
However, in the event of a BN’s victory in Rantau, Azmi said not only will it confirm the turning of political tide after Cameron Highlands and Semenyih by-elections, it will also serve as a testament to the degree of people’s dissatisfaction towards PH and the uncertainty of its leadership’s direction.
Meanwhile, another political analyst, Dr Jeniri Amir of University Malaysia Sarawak was confident of a BN’s win in Rantau.
“I believe that in this by-election, BN is going to have a hat-trick (after victories in Cameron Highlands and Semenyih). They have the upper hand, and I think they are shown to be gaining momentum. Plus, Tok Mat (BN candidate Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan) is being more well-received by the people in Rantau compared to Streram,” he said.
Nevertheless, Jeniri noted that PH is desperate to win in Rantau.
“For PH, it is important for them to ensure that they win in Rantau because by losing in the by-election, it means that they are losing grip on the ground.
“If BN wins, it will show that there is something seriously wrong with PH and that the euphoria of the GE14 (last year’s general election) victory is no longer there,” he added.
Another political analyst, Dr Azizuddin Mohd Sani of Universiti Utara Malaysia, on the other hand had played down the significance of the Rantau by-election as according to him the outcome will not affect any arrangement in the Negeri Sembilan state assembly.
“Rantau is offering nothing actually, because it is just one constituency. However, the most important thing offered at the by-election is the “battle royale” of personalities and parties” said Azizuddin.
For Azizuddin, a PH’s victory in Rantau would be a morale booster for its leaders and supporters after their setbacks of late due to “the opposition’s propaganda.”