Comment by Zainal Epi
OPPOSITION Barisan Nasional (BN) seems to be heading for another win in the upcoming Semenyih state seat by-election as the backbone of the coalition — Umno — has PAS total support.
As the target of the by-election centres on Malay votes, the two Malay-based and Islam-based parties are expected to easily win the hearts and minds of the Malays given the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has been assumed to have put the Malay and Islamic agenda at the backseat.
Barring any last minute entry from Independent candidates, the Semenyih state seat by-election in Selangor is expected to be a four-way fight and the focus will be again between the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) and opposition Barisan Nasional (BN).
The seat held by PKR in 2013 general election and retained by Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) in last year May 9 general election is a Malay-majority seat – 69.2 percent of the total 54,503 voters, Chinese 8,939 voters, Indians 13.3 percent and others 399 voters.
PKR won the seat in 2013 because Umno, representing BN was split while PAS was against Umno as it was in the PKR-led state government and Bersatu that replaced PKR won under similar situation with the help of the change of political wind last year.
This year and this month the situation has changed and the winning streak is no longer sticking like a glue to Bersatu or rather the ruling PH government, may it be in the state or national level.
The political atmosphere and scenario are totally different from that in May general election last year and the battle this time around is far more rough and tough, and more focus on day to day life.
Added to it is the perception on the government of the day that affect the long term assumption that Malays and Islam being slowly sidelined from the mainstream political agenda.
Of the four that have expressed intent8ion to contest are local Malaysian Society of Community Policing (CP) president Kuan Chee Heng, better known as “Uncle Kentang” or even the “10-sen man”, Parti Socialis Malaysia (PSM) which will announce its candidate tonight, PH which will field a candidate from Bersatu and BN which candidate with be from Umno as its ally Islamist PAS stays out and back BN wholesome.
For Uncle Kuan, he is probably the most committed but Malaysia’s politics is such that a Maverick without any party is always brushed aside as his voice will not be heard in the state assembly.
PSM is considered as an opportunist which is neither here nor there in the country’s mainstream political arena and as always, the party may even lose its deposit.
The battle is truly a battle between Bersatu who were former Umno leaders and members who present Umno member4s considered as ungrateful and Umno which present leaders and members are defending its existence despite being branded as thieves and liars.
Their target is none other than the 69.2 percent or the 36,857 Malay voters comprising of odd-jobs workers, civil servants, factory workers, pensioners and small business owners (such as hawkers).
The way the voters’ minds think can no longer be likened as the way it was in May 9 general election because the atmosphere and environment have change the last nine months.
Besides the unfulfilled pledges in the PH manifesto which the leaders are now probably profusely finding excuses, the perception that DAP is dominant in the ruling coalition weighs heavily among the Malay voters.
Candidates fielded by both parties may not be the highest criteria in the by-election so are their qualifications whether legit or otherwise which is now taking centre stage in social media.
It is to quote Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin words “allaying fears of Malays are now seen as being sidelined’ is the main issue.
While BN’s allies MCA and MIC may not play an important role in wooing the Chinese and Indian voters which the general public have already assumed would back DAP, PAS is considered as the ‘Tonto to Lone Ranger Umno’ that can tilt the winning odds.
Semenyih, a sub-urban seat just 40 minutes drive from the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, is considered backwards, seems forgotten in development despite its short distance from the fast moving and the mad economic race of the cosmopolitan city of Kuala Lumpur.
Development is seen as haphazard seemingly lack of proper planning and traffic congestion is a norm to the constituents as they go about their daily routine without ‘screaming for sympathy’.
It will be an uphill battle for PH in the battle for the Malay minds in Semenyih.