Commentary Politics

The first post-GE14 litmus test for Barisan

July 22 2018

By Abdul Rahmat Omar

The recent deaths of two Selangor state assemblymen within 100 days of the recently-concluded general elections has thrown the Barisan Nasional into the deep end. 

Fresh from being run over by a political freight train which has left only Umno as its most effective front, the imminent by-elections may or may not see if voters had truly voted for change, or voted just for the ouster of Najib Razak.

It is interesting to note that the voters had voted according to the symbols used by the parties, and not based on the candidates. Jenice Lee Ying Ha, who won the Teratai seat for the DAP with a 8,000-odd majority in 2008 could not even secure 1,000 votes contesting under PRM.

The Sungai Kandis state assembly seat was won by the late Mat Shuhaimi Shafiei in a four-cornered fight against the Barisan Nasional, Pas and PRM.  Mat Shuhaimi won with a 12,480 majority. Of the 50,800 voters,71.54 percent are Malays.

Lokman Adam, effectively the only opposition voice to be heard loudly after the general elections, will be contesting for the Barisan Nasional. 

 Initially, Umno had wanted to go it all alone, contesting under its own logo but will be contesting using the BN logo instead. Interestingly, Pas has agreed not to field its candidate. This was achieved after Umno and Pas met, signalling that Pas will be helping Umno in this by-election.

Lokman will be facing PKR ‘s Mohd Zawawi Ahmad Mughni. 

How the Malay voters will choose this time will be a gauge of sorts to see if the perceived intrusion of liberalists in the matters of Islam and Malay rights, and the disrespect shown towards the Rulers Institution will carry any weight.

The Balakong state seat has 61,659 voters with only 29.25 percent, or about 18,000 voters being Malays. 37,600 are Chinese. The late Eddie Ng Tien Chee received 41,768 votes, meaning that had he secured all the Chinese votes, about 4,000 Malay votes went to him. Pas came in second with 6,230 votes while BN which was represented by the MCA could only muster 5,874 votes. About 5,400 voters are Indians.

Will the Chinese voters abandon the DAP for the MCA less than 100 days after kicking out a “Malay government”? I doubt that very much. 

There may be a swing by the Malay voters but even that would hardly make a dent in the DAP’s hold over Balakong.

Nevertheless, it would signal that the Malays might think that they have made a mistake in giving victory to the Pakatan just because of their eagerness to kick out Najib Razak. 

The only way for us to know that is for Pas to field its candidate there, supported by the BN which essentially means Umno. I don’t think that MCA and MIC would agree to working with PAS.

With Najib Razak gone, it would be interesting to see how the Malays will vote. 

Truth be told, even Umno members and supporters had voted against the BN in order to not allow Najib Razak back into Seri Perdana. Therefore these two by-elections would be crucial for the BN to see how to chart its path for GE15.

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