Difficult for PN to wrestle Pulai, Simpang Jeram seats – Analysts

19 Aug 2023 05:32pm
From the left: Amanah Pulai candidate Suhaizan Kaiat and Simpang Jeram candidate Nazri Abdul Rahman.
From the left: Amanah Pulai candidate Suhaizan Kaiat and Simpang Jeram candidate Nazri Abdul Rahman.

SHAH ALAM – Perikatan Nasional (PN) will have to work hard to penetrate the Pulai parliamentary and Simpang Jeram state seats in Johor, which is an Umno stronghold, experts say.

On the other hand, the unity government needed to unite to defend the seats from falling to its political rival.

After the passing of the late Pulai MP and Simpang Jeram assemblyman Salahuddin Ayub, the Election Commission has announced a by-election to fill in the vacant seats to be held on Sep 9.

Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Dr. Oh Ei Sun said that this by-election would test the strength and solidarity within the Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional (PH-BN) alliance.

"If Umno goes all out and assists Amanah in this campaign, they will likely win this seat.

"A lot of the support will depend on Umno's help," he said

Oh also stated that after a year and a half since Umno's spectacular win in the Johor state election, it was time for PN to test the waters in Johor again.

"With their spectacular track record in the 15th General Election and the recent six state elections, PN should see if they can gain an additional foothold in Johor.

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"But I do admit it would not be an easy fight for both sides of the political divide," he said.

For PN to gain leverage, Oh said PN could use and employ many methods in this by-election.

"PN could strategise through its tried and tested method, which is by using the race and religion card.

"Or they could try to build a narrative of trying to gain another seat in parliament so they could form a government.

"Ultimately, nothing is certain electorally. Both Amanah and PN would have to work extra hard to retain this seat," he said.

Meanwhile, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) Political Science Associate Professor Dr Syaza Shukri said the prospects looked very good for both candidates Amanah fielded.

Earlier this morning, Amanah announced two former aides of the late MP, Suhaizan Kaiat and Nazri Abdul Rahman would contest to defend the seats in the upcoming by-election.

"I think it could almost certainly be a guaranteed win for Suhaizad and Nazri.

"I remember back when Salahudin contested there, he won by a huge majority of around 30,000 plus," she said.

Syaza explained that it would be difficult for PN to win in the Pulai state seat because of how much Salahuddin was loved there.

She also said that the combination between PH’s strength and people’s sympathy for Salahuddin’s passing would make this a tough fight for PN.