By ALIFAH ZAINUDDIN / Pic By BERNAMA
THE past week of official campaigning for the Sg Kandis by-election has seen some big names making their rounds at local villages and community centres in support of their party’s candidate.
From ousted former Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak’s home visits to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman’s recent appearance at a local mosque, the contest for the Selangor state seat is seen as a litmus test for Malaysia’s new political scene.
While the odds are stacked in favour of Pakatan Harapan, Umno and PAS will look to test water on a sure-win formula for the next big election — one that treads on Malay-Muslim sentiments. Thus, the outcome of this by-election will prove to be indicative.
If Pakatan Harapan wins, the question will be by how much? And if Barisan Nasional (BN) pulls off a shocking upset, it will certainly give reasons for the three-month-old government to watch their back.
The Sg Kandis by-election is the first of two back-to-back state polls in Selangor following the tragic deaths of Sg Kandis state representative Mat Shuhaimi Shafiei, who died of cancer on July 2, and Balakong assemblyman Eddie Ng Tien Chee, who was killed in a road accident on July 20.
It will also be the first poll after the historic May 9 general election that witnessed the defeat of BN, which had ruled the country for over six decades.
The by-election will be a three-way race between PKR candidate Mohd Zawawi Ahmad Mughni, BN’s Datuk Lokman Noor Adam and independent K Murthy. Polling has been fixed on Aug 4.
On paper, it should be a clear-cut win for PKR. The party, which is part of the Pakatan Harapan coalition, has established a decade-long stronghold in Selangor.Currently, Pakatan Harapan holds 49 constituencies in the Selangor state legislative assembly, of which PKR contributes 27 seats.
In the 14th General Election, the late Mat Shuhaimi retained the Sg Kandis seat for the third term after defeating candidates from BN, PAS and Parti Rakyat Malaysia, with a 12,480-majority.
Mohd Zawawi is expected to repeat the same feat in the upcoming by-election, while extending the winning margin.
The 47-year-old’s stature as the principal of Maahad Tahfiz Al Fateh in Jalan Kebun, Shah Alam, is likely to bode well with local voters who are mainly Malays. Overall, the Sg Kandis constituency has 51,230 registered voters, of which more than 70% are Malays.
PAS, who secured 7,573 votes in the previous election, has opted to sit out of the by-election by not fielding a candidate.
However, the Islamist party is seemingly working with BN in an effort to capture a larger pool of the Malay- Muslim vote.
While PAS has denied any cooperation with BN, the latter, particularly those from Umno, has repeatedly gone on record that they needed PAS’ support to win the Sg Kandis by-election.
Umno leaders have already decked out their campaign with racial cards, claiming that Malay-Musl ims are “angry” that the position of Islam and Malays are threatened under the Pakatan Harapan administration.
BN frontrunner Lokman had also insisted that some were unhappy with the new government’s treatment of Najib, who was charged earlier this month on multiple counts of corruption.
It remains to be seen, however, if those sentiments will translate into votes. With polls expected to precede Pakatan Harapan’s 100-day mark, the newly elected government will hope otherwise.
The Sg Kandis by-election will be a key battle between a “new Malaysia” and a beaten Opposition, who desperately seeks to revive its old glory.