GE15: Batu Pahat incumbent Rashid Hasnon feels five-cornered battle will play to his advantage, aided by Muhyiddin’s popularity

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

BATU PAHAT, Nov 16 — Batu Pahat incumbent Datuk Mohd Rashid Hasnon feels that the five-cornered battle for the parliamentary constituency in the 15th general election (GE15) will play to his advantage, aided by the popularity of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) chairman, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

Speaking to Malay Mail, the former Penang deputy chief minister (DCM 1) said that Muhyiddin has become rather synonymous with PN and he will be riding on that popularity in his attempt to win Batu Pahat for a second term.

He also admitted that some voters in the area are confused as to which party or coalition he belongs to when he goes on his walkabouts canvassing for support, but says these are just “five per cent” of the electorate.

Rashid had defected to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) during the Sheraton Move, which toppled the 22-month-old Pakatan Harapan (PH) government then. He won Batu Pahat in the 14th general election (GE14) under the PKR ticket by a 17,894 vote majority, defeating Barisan Nasional (BN) and PAS.

“My response, I will take advantage of what divisions and differences there are.

“To me, it is an advantage from the angle of the party base. I’m moving away a little bit from there, that is to let them (voters) choose who the candidate is. Meaning an approach that is not so much on the party but more on who the candidate is.

“I have got the better edge because the rest are non-incumbents. I have been the incumbent for the past four years and six months.

“So I’m projecting myself more as an incumbent with the experience of an MP. This is not a state assemblyman or a local councillor, but an MP who has a track record. So I will take advantage of what there is,” Rashid, who is also the former Dewan Rakyat deputy speaker, said.

Rashid said that race and religion-based politics are not the type of sentiments that resonate with voters here but rather, the legacy of “Abah”, a nickname Muhyiddin adopted for an intimate political appeal.

“Service is important here.

“So this is sentiment. To me, when I campaign for this group of people I will do it that way because the message when I meet the Chinese, the senior citizens they say: Okay, okay I know. This is Abah. This is Tan Sri Muhyiddin. I am surprised, you know? ... to be recognised that way. They ask; you are from this party? Then they ask if I am aligned to him or not. That is the point,” Rashid added.

He said many in the area remember Muhyiddin for the financial aid he announced during the Covid-19 pandemic when many businesses suffered, with many losing their jobs.

He said that the loan moratorium and the RM10,000 one-time withdrawal from the Employees Provident Fund (EPF), have a deep sentiment among voters in Batu Pahat.

Rashid said that he has also been selling the idea of having Muhyiddin return as prime minister, for an added boost.

International data and analytics firm YouGov had today said that PH is likely to win the most votes in GE15, according to the latest survey conducted between November 8 and November 14.

The survey, after polling 2,687 Malaysians, found 35 per cent saying they would vote PH, while another 20 per cent would go for Perikatan Nasional (PN). Only 17 per cent said they were for Barisan Nasional (BN), the pollster said.

In its poll of political leaders, YouGov found Muhyiddin as the most-liked with 33 per cent of Malaysians having a positive image of the PN chairman.

PH chairman Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was runner-up, scoring 29 per cent support from the Malaysians polled.

Caretaker prime minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, who is Umno vice-president, was liked by 22 per cent and PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang had a good reputation among 16 per cent.

“Ismail Sabri only just continued from what was done. So I am riding on that (Muhyiddin’s deeds) saying; If Tan Sri becomes the next PM, would that be okay? They say okay. Because there is a precedent where Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has already become prime minister twice,” he added.

Batu Pahat is set for a five-cornered fight between PN, Barisan Nasional (BN), Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang), Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM).

Polling is set for November 19.