After the massive street protest in Kuala Lumpur, BN and Pakatan Rakyat will shift their battlefield to Pematang Pasir, Penang. The by-election this time will tell us whether the return of Malay votes in Manik Urai, Kelantan was a false impression.
BN and Pakatan fiercely fought in the Manik Urai by-election, as well as the ISA protest last Saturday (1 August). With the hatred between the two parties, the Permatang Pasir by-election is expected to be a fierce confrontation, too. BN has been defeated in all the six by-elections in Peninsular Malaysia. In order to keep its prestige and public reliance, it will definitely give its very best. Permatang Pasir is a state seat within the Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency represented by opposition leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. The state seat is also the only seat of PAS in Penang. Pakatan will not allow BN to win.
The following paragraphs show the focus points of the by-election:
- The performance test for Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak over 100 days after he took the office. On his first 100th day (11 July), Najib made an announcement for 11 good news, including setting up a new trust fund, Amanah Saham 1Malaysia, with a maximum size of 10 billion units and a 20% toll discount for frequent users who pay toll 80 times a month or more via the Smart Tag or Touch ’n Go, effective 1 September. Subsequently, the targets set for the six national Key Result Areas (KRAs), including reducing crime rate, were announced. According to a poll, after he addressed the “One Malaysia” concept and committed to an open economy, his approval ratings among Malaysians have risen from 46% in May to 65%. The by-election will reflect the actual support of the people.
- The return of Malay votes? In Manik Urai, where 99% of voters are Malays, PAS won by only 65 votes while UMNO managed to gain 889 more votes this time. As for Permatang Pasir, 72% of voters are Malays; it can be used as an evaluation indicator for the direction of Malay voters. Would UMNO play the “racial card”, particularly in this special environment of Penang? Anwar may control over a certain degree of Malay votes. If Pas gains less votes than the votes it gained in the 8 March general elections, UMNO can be seen as gaining a moral victory.
- The impact of Teoh Beng Hock’s death. Teoh died on the 104th day after Najib took the office and his death triggered a lot of controversies. Would the setting up of a Royal Commission of Inquiry and the inquest eliminate the doubts? Permatang Pasir has 25.7% Chinese voters and they are playing a key role. Whether DAP is able to continue controlling Chinese votes or MCA, which is on the verge of split, will gain? Is Gerakan able to restore its former glory in this by-election after suffering a great defeat in the last general elections?
- The performance assessment for Pakatan. The issues of forming the unity government with Umno, demolishing a pig abattoir in Kedah and internal struggle within Selangor Pakatan have reflected many internal problems of Pakatan. Would the public continue supporting Pakatan? The by-election in Penang would be a confidence indicator.
It is “an act of God” to have a by-election now as both the parties may get some messages from it and adjust their excessive political strategies.
I believe that Pakatan will once again gain a victory but only by gaining a major victory, it can extend the Pakatan and Anwar political myth. (By LIM SUE GOAN/Translated by SOONG PHUI JEE/Sin Chew Daily)