Pundits: Ramasamy’s anti-Pakatan campaign will chip away at KKB majority, but not enough for a Perikatan upset on May 11

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, May 1 — Despite ethnic Indian voters in Kuala Kubu Baru showing some dissatisfaction towards the Anwar Ibrahim government, observers said former deputy Penang chief minister II P. Ramasamy will have minimal influence on the fortunes of Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the by-election on May 11.

Those polled by Malay Mail said while this may translate into some protest votes or abstentions, they may not necessarily translate into votes for Perikatan Nasional (PN).

According to Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research senior fellow Azmi Hassan, there might be dissatisfaction on the ground among the Indian community towards the unity government, but it would not mean outright support for PN either.

“The fact Indians make up 18 per cent of voters in Kuala Kubu Baru could have a negative impact on PH because Ramasamy is quite influential.

“When one considers the one-and-a-half years that the unity government has been in office, there is still dissatisfaction among the Indian community towards the prime minister, or the unity government in this case, particularly when it comes to the appointment of ministers from among Indian MPs.

“While there will be some negative impact, I don’t think Indian voters’ dissatisfaction towards PH will make them vote for PN. I don’t think that will happen,” Azmi told Malay Mail when contacted.

Based on data from the 15th general election (GE15) and the last state election, Azmi said the number of Indian voters had remained consistent, but of that group, those who went out to vote, had fallen by 14 per cent generally in both instances.

“I think dissatisfied Indian voters might make their sentiments known by not going out to vote. So, in this case, it won’t benefit PN in a positive way. Only that for PH, its majority will be reduced due to the actions of this group of Indian voters.

“So overall, yes, there will be a negative impact for PH, the unity government or the DAP candidate,” he said.

It was reported earlier this week that Ramasamy and his new party, Parti Bersepakat Hak Rakyat Malaysia (Urimai), had urged voters in Kuala Kubu Baru to not vote for PH.

Ramasamy reportedly said this should serve as a lesson for the federal government, as, according to him, Putrajaya had not fulfilled its promises to the people.

The former Penang DAP leader left the party last August, and together with a few former DAP leaders, formed Urimai, which has yet to receive approval from the Registrar of Societies (RoS).

Ramasamy, who has begun his campaign on the ground, had even reportedly said he felt that he made a mistake supporting Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to become prime minister.

Universiti Utara Malaysia political analyst Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani, weighing in on the matter, said Ramasamy will have no impact on the Kuala Kubu Baru by-election.

“Ramasamy doesn’t represent the Indian community in Kuala Kubu Baru, and no parties want to be associated with Ramasamy and his party.

“Ramasamy’s rejection of PH and the unity government was for personal reasons, as he was disappointed about not being fielded in the last state election.

“As for whether his struggle is genuine or not, it is skewed towards his grudge for PH. By asking them not to support PH, does Ramasamy want Indian voters to support PN or PAS?” Azizuddin said when contacted.

He added that the Indian community in Kuala Kubu Baru is smart enough not to orchestrate any protest vote, as it is merely a by-election.

Meanwhile, Syaza Shukri, assistant professor of political science at International Islamic University Malaysia, conceded that ethnic Indian voters could tip the by-election in PN’s favour.

“It will be very close, but I do think it can decide the election. The Indian community has many grouses on top of Ramasamy’s anti-PH campaign, and it might tip the result in PN’s favour.

“With the Indian community, I think we could see both a protest vote and a vote for PN. They are more receptive to PN than the average Chinese voter, so I wouldn’t be surprised if it is a vote for PN,” Syaza said when contacted.

She added that people are confused by MIC and MCA’s stand, and therefore, conventional PH-BN supporters might not go out to vote because the relationship remains unclear.

PH communications director Fahmi Fadzil, however, had said that MCA’s decision to sit out campaigning for PH and the unity government would not affect the coalition’s chances of winning the by-election.

However, Syaza said that PH must up its game to fend off attacks from other parties.

“Yes, I think PH needs to up its game because it is being attacked or challenged from all sides. They are on the defensive right now. It will be difficult,” she said.

The KKB state assembly seat fell vacant following the death of its incumbent Lee Kee Hong on March 21.

Lee, 58, who held the seat since 2013, died after battling cancer over the past few years.

In the state election in August last year, Lee beat candidates from PN, Parti Rakyat Malaysia and the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda) by a majority of 4,119 votes.

On April 24, PH announced Pang Sock Tao as its candidate. The 31-year-old previously served as a news presenter for DAP’s UbahTV and as the press secretary to Housing and Local Government Minister Nga Kor Ming, among other career highlights.

Two days later, PN named Hulu Selangor Bersatu acting division chief Khairul Azhari Saut, 54, as its candidate for Kuala Kubu Baru.

Two other hopefuls have also thrown their hat in the ring: Hafizah Zainuddin of Parti Rakyat Malaysia and independent candidate, Nyau Ke Xin.

The Election Commission has set May 11 as polling day; early voting will take place on May 7.