Pelangai by-election: BN's battle to stop PN's advance
BENTONG - Halfway through the campaign period for the Pelangai state by-election (PRK), the contest for the seat, supposedly a three-cornered fight, is seeing a rivalry between only two of the candidates, Umno representing Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pas for Perikatan Nasional (PN).
BN candidate Datuk Amizar Abu Adam, from Umno, Pas’ Kasim Samat, for Perikatan Nasional (PN) and independent candidate Haslihelmy DM Zulhasli are contesting the seat.
However, the campaign, according to observers, lacked excitement, although political observers see this by-election as very important for BN in ensuring that it retained the seat, which has been the party's stronghold since 1986, to block the progress of the 'green wave' in Pahang after 15th General Election (GE15).
The lacklustre situation. especially in the initial campaign is expected to change in the second week with the candidates and their respective machinery pushing up their gear to win the hearts of the voters, and also the presence of key party leaders at programmes held in the constituency.
A senior lecturer at the Faculty of Administrative Sciences and Policy Studies, Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Raub Branch, Dr Che Hamdan Che Mohd Razali said BN needed to win the Pelangai seat to balance its position in the Pahang State Assembly.
"The GE15 results saw BN and PN each getting 17 seats in the Pahang State Assembly. As the state government, they definitely want to prevent PN from having more seats, even though this by-election result does not lead to a change the state administration.
"Apart from that, the result of the Pelangai by-election is also important to gauge the people’s acceptance of the state government's policies and administration, as well as the line-up of the state executive council (MMK) after GE15," he told Bernama.
The Pahang state assembly was in a hung position when the results of GE15 saw no single party acquiring a simple majority to form the state government.
For the first time in Pahang, Barisan Nasional(BN) has teamed up with Pakatan Harapan (PH) to form the unity state government with BN securing 17 seats and PH obtaining eight.
Perikatan Nasional (PN), serving as the opposition, has 17 seats.
There are 42 seats in Pahang state assembly
Che Hamdan said the Pelangai by-election will also reflect the cooperation between BN and PH in Pahang, especially in seeing how PH, especially DAP, which has six seats and PKR (two seats) in the State Assembly, mobilised their machinery to help BN win.
"Unlike in the other East Coast states, Pahang, even though the majority of the voters are Malay, DAP still won seats in the state.
"The political trend has changed with PN, especially Pas, getting increasing support, including in Pahang, resulting in BN and PH having to work together to block PN's progress in Pahang because Felda can no longer be considered as a fixed deposit for BN," he added.
A total of 7,983 voters or 48.5 per cent of the total 16,456 registered voters in the Pelangai state constituency are settlers. in the Felda settlements, namely Chemomoi, Sungai Kemahal and Sungai Kemasul.
Political analyst Dr Ainul Adzellie Hasnul said BN has the advantage in Pelangai because the party machinery, including from outside Pahang, is concentrated there.
Another, he said, is the candidate factor, who is seen as able to continue the efforts of the incumbent in the area.
"Voters have the option to choose a candidate who can continue what (incumbent Pelai Assemblyman) Datuk Seri Johari Harun wanted to do, which will be easier if the candidate comes from the same ruling party in the state and the country," he said.
Ainul Adzelli said that based on the GE15 results, the momentum of BN supporters was still strong in Pelangi and now coupled with the votes of PH supporters, PN would have a difficult task to win the seat.
Although development is one of the issues raised by the PN in the Pelangai by-election, Ainul Adzellie said the state government has the advantage of dealing with it because it can highlight the development plans there.
Polling for the Pelangai by-election is Oct 7.
The by-election is called following Johari's death in a plane crash in Shah Alam, Selangor last Aug 17.
In GE15, Johari, from BN, won with a majority of 4,048 votes, defeating Kasim (PN) who obtained 3,260, while PH candidate Ahmed Wafiuddin Shamsuri secured 2,031 votes and Pejuang candidate, Isa Ahmad only garnered 65 votes in the four-cornered contest. - BERNAMA