Personal attributes of candidates may not influence KKB voters - Expert

Umno-DAP tensions cast doubt on PH's prospects in Kuala Kubu Baharu.

18 Apr 2024 03:42pm
Photo for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX
Photo for illustration purpose only. - FILE PIX

SHAH ALAM - Pakatan Harapan's (PH) strategy of fielding Malay professionals as parachute or direct candidates may not ensure success in defending the Kuala Kubu Baharu state seat for the Unity Government in Selangor.

Sunway University UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN-Asia) Deputy Chief Professor Wong Chin Huat said while PH could nominate professionals as direct candidates, it's crucial that the individuals chosen are influential locals who garner majority voter support in the area.

He noted that candidates' personal attributes, such as race and religion, might not significantly sway voters, as issues like the rising cost of living, commodity prices, and currency depreciation influence voting patterns.

"In fact, the failure of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and the leaders of the Unity Government to put out the flames of racism due to the socks issue has led to an awkward relationship between Umno and DAP.

"After the attack by the Umno Youth Chief Dr Muhamad Akmal Saleh on the DAP ministers, it is a bit strange that Umno machinery can invigorate its grassroots to vote for the PH candidate.

"In the last state election, we have seen that most of the BN votes went to Perikatan Nasional (PN).

"I expect any Umno member who cannot bring himself to support PN, will decide to boycott the by-election by not voting," he told Sinar.

Wong's remarks came in response to PH Secretary-General Datuk Seri Saifuddin Nasution Ismail's announcement that the Unity Government has a candidate ready for the Kuala Kubu Baharu by-election, pending submission to Anwar.

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Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya Political Science Lecturer Dr Mohammad Tawfik Yaakub interpreted PH's decision to field Malay professionals as a recognition of the Malay electorate's significant influence, comprising over 46 per cent of voters.

Tawfik suggested that given the current political landscape where Malay voters are divided between PH and Umno, PH's adoption of this strategy is a pragmatic response.

"This approach mirrors Umno's tactics of bringing in candidates from outside the party to contest elections," he said.

Despite potential internal pressures within PH component parties like DAP or PKR to nominate Chinese candidates, Tawfik stressed the importance of prioritising the Prime Minister's preference for a Malay candidate.

He emphasised that ultimately, all Unity Government leaders must accept the PH Chairman's decision regarding candidate selection.