KKB by-election: Malay wave sentiment might create uphill battle for PH candidate due to Nga's remarks - Experts

27 Apr 2024 07:00am
Pang Sock Tao - Photo by Bernama
Pang Sock Tao - Photo by Bernama

SHAH ALAM - The Malay wave sentiment might create an uphill battle for Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate Pang Sock Tao due to the sensitive remarks made by Housing and Local Government Minister Nga Kor Ming, experts say.

O2 head researcher Anis Anwar said for Malay voters, Pang's association with Nga as press secretary and known for his controversial remarks may pose a hurdle in the upcoming Kuala Kubu Baharu (KKB) state by-election.

"The Malay green wave sentiment has been intensified by various domestic and international issues, creating an uphill battle for her (Pang), particularly because of the sensitive remarks made by her boss, Nga Kor Ming, which have not sat well with many in the Malay community," he told Sinar Daily.

However, Anis said the ethnically mixed composition of the KKB seat might still work in her favour.

"Overcoming this will require her to clearly articulate her independent stance and commitment to community-specific issues.

"Her ability to distance herself from these remarks and to present a platform that resonates with Malay voters on socioeconomic and cultural issues will be crucial in mitigating some of the adverse effects of these dynamics," he said.

Potential for Indian voter boycott

Recently, it was reported that a non-governmental organisation (NGO) attempted to persuade Indian voters to boycott the by-election.

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Anis said the discontent among Indian voters regarding their representation and treatment within the unity government has brewed a potent mix of frustration and political activism that might manifest distinctly in the by-election.

He added that historically, Indian voters in Malaysia have shown loyalty to PH, especially when the alternative might lead to less representation of their interests.

"However, this by-election presents a less risky opportunity for voters to express their dissatisfaction without the fear of destabilising the government due to its current stability at both state and federal levels.

"If the Indian community chooses to boycott the vote or pivot their support, it would not necessarily pose a risk of changing the government but would send a clear signal of their displeasure and demand for more attention and respect within the political alliance," he said.

Influence of MCA's non-participation

The decision by the MCA not to actively support the PH candidate could have broader implications for the coalition dynamics within Barisan Nasional (BN).

While MCA's influence on national politics has waned, Anis said their support or lack thereof can significantly affect the morale and strategic positioning of BN, particularly among Umno voters who might view the coalition as unbalanced or skewed towards non-Malay interests.

"This perception could demoralise BN supporters, potentially leading to decreased turnout or a lack of enthusiastic campaigning, which might indirectly benefit the opposition.

"Additionally, MCA’s non-participation could further strain the already tenuous relationships within BN, particularly between Umno and its coalition partners.

"If KKB becomes a swing seat and falls into opposition hands, it could lead to serious reflections within BN on the coalition's effectiveness and unity, possibly prompting a reevaluation of strategies and alliances," he said.

Commenting further, Political analyst from the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) Associate Prof Dr Syaza Shukri said said Pang has a good chance because voters may look at DAP as a party instead of the candidate itself.

She said while the Malay green wave was strong, the KKB by-election was anticipated to witness a fierce battle between these two candidates.

"I don’t think the green wave is strong enough but it will definitely be a tough fight," she said.

Syaza said she was of the view that the Indians might not choose to vote for the PH candidate due to dissatisfaction with the unity government.

"I think Chinese will vote for her (Pang) but Indians might choose not to due to not being happy with the unity government," she said.

Hulu Selangor Bersatu action division head Khairul Azhari Saut has been named as PN candidate for KKB state by-election on May 11.

The KKB by-election is being held following the death of the incumbent from the DAP, Lee Kee Hiong, 58, due to cancer on March 21.

The Election Commission has set May 11 as the polling day, May 7 for early voting and Saturday as the nomination day.