KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 — Barisan Nasional (BN) should be able to retain the Pelangai state seat in the Pahang by-election next month but will be under pressure to dispel the view that it is still losing Malay support, said analysts.
According to Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research (NASR) senior fellow Azmi Hassan, also at stake is Pakatan Harapan’s ability to ensure that more of its votes are transferable to its new partner in the unity government.
“I don’t think so PH-BN or Umno for the matter would lose the seat, because I see that the 3,000-plus PH supporters in Pelangai will vote for Umno, even though it is an Umno candidate.
“Because if they don’t go out to vote to show the protest because of uneasiness, meaning that they are supporting PAS candidate in this case,” Azmi told Malay Mail when contacted.
However, he said while Umno is unlikely to lose the seat, it should brace for a greatly reduced majority as 70 per cent of the voters in Pelangai are Malays, whom he said are still uneasy with the party’s cooperation with former rival DAP through the unity government.
“We know that the Malay voters in droves or mass are leaving Umno in this case because of the cooperation with DAP.
“So, the majority will be reduced because of the green wave effect but it will be reimbursed by the positive bank vote of PH non-Malay supporters,” he said.
University of Malaya Centre for Democracy and Elections (UMcedel) sociopolitical analyst Associate Professor Awang Azman Awang Pawi said while the seat is a BN stronghold, the coalition could no longer take things for granted.
“The support of Felda settlements there is still fairy satisfactory, but BN needs to work harder to get a larger support,” he said.
At the same time, he said PH should offer help, but not so much of returning a favour, but based on the spirit of the collaboration as a unity government since Umno helped with Pulai and Simpang Jeram.
“With the cooperation with PH there will be higher chances of winning the seat, but there are risks, because usually by-elections, usually the voter turnout is quite low.
“So, BN needs to make sure that their hardcore supporters go out to vote,” he said.
Not all the analysts were convinced that BN victory in Pelangai is certain, however, with political science lecturer at the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) Syaza Shukri saying there could be an upset because of the uncertainty of Malay votes and sentiments.
“(However) I don’t think there is concern with vote transferability from PH voters. I think PH voters are more open to support a BN candidate than it is for Umno voters to support PH.
“In other words, I think Pelangai is relatively safe for BN and the unity government,” she said.
The Pelangai by-election on October 7 will see BN’s Datuk Amizar Abu Adam, Perikatan Nasional’s Kasim Samat, and independent Haslihelmy DM Zulhasli vie for the support of the seat’s 16,456 eligible voters.
The by-election was called following the death of incumbent assemblyman Datuk Seri Johari Harun, 53, in a plane crash in Shah Alam, Selangor on August 17.