Local issues as key ammunition for Umno-BN in Nenggiri

Betrayal episode influences Bersatu's strategy in Nenggiri

MOHD FAIZUL HAIKA MAT KHAZI
MOHD FAIZUL HAIKA MAT KHAZI
11 Jul 2024 09:33am
Analyst also believed that the appointment of the BN election director for the Nenggiri by-election, Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah or Ku Li, who has strong grassroots support in Kelantan, could help revive the spirit and nostalgia of voters towards Umno leadership. - File photo
Analyst also believed that the appointment of the BN election director for the Nenggiri by-election, Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah or Ku Li, who has strong grassroots support in Kelantan, could help revive the spirit and nostalgia of voters towards Umno leadership. - File photo
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SHAH ALAM - Perikatan Nasional (PN) is expected to continue its winning streak in the Nenggiri by-election on August 17, following its substantial victory in the Sungai Bakap by-election, where it secured a majority of 4,267 votes last Saturday.

Statistics reveal that over 90 per cent of the 20,259 registered voters in the Nenggiri constituency are Malay-Muslim majority, a factor that could favour PN, especially if the Malay-Muslim narrative used successfully in Sungai Bakap resonates again.

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) Perdana centre for technology and informatics associate professor Dr Mazlan Ali revealed that if PN's messaging continues to resonate, maintaining their hold on the Nenggiri seat is highly likely.

He predicted a challenging path for Umno and Barisan Nasional (BN) to reclaim the seat vacated by former Nenggiri state assemblyman Mohd Azizi Abu Naim of Bersatu.

“One of the main reasons for the defeat of the PH and Madani government candidate in the Sungai Bakap by-election was the government’s failure to provide sufficient explanation regarding the announcement of targeted diesel subsidies and concerns about the rise in RON95 petrol prices.

“Hence, I see a growing sentiment of rejection towards candidates representing the Unity Government in the Nenggiri by-election campaign.

“This perception has been further strengthened after the Economy Minister Rafizi Ramli hinted that the public might face another shock with a possible increase in RON95 petrol prices following the targeted diesel subsidy,” he told Sinar.

For Umno-BN, local issues that could serve as ‘ammunition’ in their by-election campaign include issues of customary Orang Asli land, illegal logging, the development of the Nenggiri Dam, road infrastructure, and water supply problems.

Mazlan was also confident that Pas will likely have to give way to a Bersatu candidate to contest the Nenggiri seat, despite the leadership of Pas Gua Musang demanding to contest.

He stated that Pas is aware of the importance of strengthening PN with Bersatu, given the increasing public support following the Sungai Bakap by-election.

“Although there is scepticism among Pas grassroots about a Bersatu candidate contesting there, the Sungai Bakap by-election result proves that it is not a difficult task for them to defend the Nenggiri seat.

“This can be achieved provided that Pas supporters do not boycott the PN candidate or engage in internal sabotage,” he said.

In the 2022 state election, Azizi, who contested under the Pas ticket, won the Nenggiri seat after securing 6,517 votes (a majority of 810), defeating the incumbent from BN, Ab Aziz Yussof, who received 5,707 votes.

However, Kelantan state assembly speaker Datuk Mohd Amar Abdullah announced the vacancy of the Nenggiri seat effective June 19.

This decision was made after the Kelantan state assembly on June 13 received a written notice under Clause (3) of Article 31A of the Kelantan State Constitution from a state assemblyman regarding Mohd Azizi's loss of membership in Bersatu.

Following this, the Election Commission (EC) set the polling date for the Nenggiri by-election for August 17, with candidate nominations on August 3 and early voting scheduled for August 13.

Opportunity

Meanwhile, Universiti Sultan Zainal Abidin (UniSZA) centre for international relations head Dr Hussain Yusri Zawawi considers that Bersatu should give way to Pas following the ‘betrayal’ episode by Azizi, who switched allegiance to the Unity Government.

He said that Azizi’s act of defection or party-hopping could trigger feelings of distrust and disappointment among Nenggiri voters.

“Voters might feel that Bersatu candidates can no longer be trusted to represent their interests honestly and with integrity.

“Therefore, to avoid this negative sentiment, Bersatu might be wiser to give way to Pas, which has a better track record in the area,” he said.

Hussain also believed that the appointment of the BN election director for the Nenggiri by-election, Tan Sri Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah or Ku Li, who has strong grassroots support in Kelantan, could help revive the spirit and nostalgia of voters towards Umno leadership.

He also believed that Umno could regain the support of their core voters, who have shifted allegiance if they successfully combined Ku Li’s influential strength with a modern and effective campaign strategy.

“To face this challenge, Umno needs to ensure their campaign is relevant and addresses important issues for voters, such as economic development, infrastructure, education, and public welfare,” he said.