KKB by-election: Equal opportunity for PH-PN

The by-election will witness a four-cornered fight, but many viewed the real competition to be between PH and PN.

29 Apr 2024 10:54am
The supporters of the unity government marched towards the Community Hall and Hulu Selangor District Sports Complex on Saturday during the KKB state by-election nomination day. - Photo by Bernama.
The supporters of the unity government marched towards the Community Hall and Hulu Selangor District Sports Complex on Saturday during the KKB state by-election nomination day. - Photo by Bernama.

Although the candidate nomination process has concluded, the Kuala Kubu Baharu (KKB) state by-election will witness a four-cornered contest, including candidates from Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) and an Independent candidate.

However, many viewed the real competition to be between Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Perikatan Nasional (PN).

This is because, on paper, both coalitions have an equal chance of winning the KKB by-election on May 11, although PH was seen to have a slight advantage due to support from the unity government machinery from Putrajaya and Selangor.

Furthermore, PH also has the advantage of receiving campaign machinery assistance from its former arch-rival Umno, which was now part of the unity government led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) Political and International Relations lecturer Professor Dr Mohd Azizuddin Mohd Sani said even though some questioned DAP's decision to nominate Housing and Local Government Ministry, Nga Kor Ming press secretary, Pang Sock Tao, as a unity government candidate because she was not a local, this issue should not affect voter support, especially among the Chinese towards PH.

Moreover, the university's deputy vice-chancellor (academic and international) explained that the majority of non-Malay voters, especially the Chinese and Indians, did not mind whether the PH candidate was a local or a parachute candidate because for them, what was more important was that the individual can perform their duties well if elected.

Azizuddin did not rule out the possibility that PH's action of fielding an imported candidate could lead to some Malay voters to boycott or vote for PN, which fielded a Malay candidate.

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"However, I also see PN's decision to field Bersatu acting chief Khairul Azhari Saut as a candidate not as an advantage, even though he is a local, because he is not widely known and not influential.

"The influence of Bersatu is also not strong in Kuala Kubu Baharu, but they are lucky because they are allied with Pas, which has many supporters in the KKB state assembly, especially in areas with a majority of Malay voters," he said.

However, he said, PN's chances of securing the seat held by DAP for three consecutive terms were slim if Malay voters, especially Umno supporters chose to vote for the PH candidate.

He said although PH appeared almost certain to win on paper, they will also face problems if the youth boycott the unity government candidate or switch support to the PN candidate.

Azizuddin also saw DAP's decision to field Pang as a candidate as a dual-strategy, not only to maintain the support of non-Malay voters but also to attract young people to vote for the unity government candidate.

He said DAP also fielded Pang to attract female votes, who make up the majority of voters in the KKB state assembly.

Universiti Malaysia Terengganu (UMT) Literacy and Political Advocacy Unit Associate research fellow associate professor Dr Mohd Yusri Ibrahim also believed that PH's action of nominating an outsider as a candidate will not have a significant impact on the final outcome of the by-election.

However, he said, whether it was a local or outsider candidate and whether it was a local or national issue, all these elements will definitely be campaign material.

"Ultimately, I expect political identity to have a significant influence on voting patterns. This political identity will become more prominent in Kuala Kubu Baharu when there is a contest between a Chinese candidate from PH and a Malay candidate representing PN.

He explained that although DAP was criticised for nominating outsiders as candidates, their record of service as representatives has been excellent and highly regarded by local voters.

Yusri also believed that PN's decision to field a Malay candidate from Bersatu was better and more appropriate than fielding a Chinese candidate from Parti Gerakan.

"This opens up better opportunities because it gives them an advantage in mobilising the campaign to garner as many votes as possible from the Malay ethnic group.

"In a situation where political identity is expanding, PN has the opportunity to increase Malay voter support compared to what they obtained in the recent Selangor state election," he said.

However, he said, PN's chances of winning the KKB by-election were quite slim if they only relied on votes from one ethnic group, namely the Malays.

This was because, after the 14th general election (GE14), the political landscape in Malaysia changed dramatically because no single party could win more than two-thirds of the parliamentary or state assembly seats and form a government independently.

"To win an election and form a stable government, a political party needs the support of voters from various ethnic groups representing national aspirations.

"For the time being, the PH-BN cooperation is very strategic for the future of Malaysian politics. Umno realises this situation, which is why they decided to support the unity government candidate in KKB," he said.

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