Slim by-election is Pejuang’s proving ground – analysts

KUALA LUMPUR : Coming in as the second by-election after Perikatan Nasional (PN) came into power, two political analysts have pointed out that the Slim by-election is likely going to be the proving ground for new party, Pejuang.

Associate professor Dr Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia said the by-election would not likely be a showcase of Umno’s strength, but rather a fight between Pejuang and Pribumi Bersatu for support among those who voted Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the last general election (GE14). 

“This by-election is not about Umno but instead it’s more a competition pitting Pejuang and Pribumi Bersatu. 

“The question of where the 6,000 plus votes garnered by PH in GE14 go to either to Pejuang or Pribumi Bersatu is the more interesting question,” said Azmi.

(From left) Barisan Nasional’s Mohd Zaidi Aziz, Pejuang’s Amir Khusyairi Mohamad Tanusi and Independent candidate Santharasekaran Subramanian

Pejuang was recently set up by former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and his supporters, who were mostly either expelled or quit Pribumi Bersatu after that party left PH, leading to the collapse of the coalition’s government.

Pribumi Bersatu is currently leading the PN government with support from Umno and its allies.

“The primary message is where Pejuang and Pribumi Bersatu stand by observing where the 6k votes go to.

“Pejuang is represented by an independent candidate (at the Slim by-election) and how many votes can he secure compared to PH candidate during GE14 will tell how effective Pejuang is as a party,” said Azmi. 

“More precisely, it’s Umno that most probably will win but the number of votes gained should still be what Barisan Nasional (BN) and PAS obtained during GE14,” he added. 

Independent analyst Dr Jeniri Amir concurred, stressing that the by-election is not to see whether the opposition could win, but rather to measure Pejuang’s influence. 

However, he believed that the incumbent would most likely win with a bigger advantage and that Pejuang would be left with a lower overall votes compared to PH’s achievement there in GE14. 

“It is not likely that Pejuang’s candidate would garner as many votes as PH back in GE14, and it is even unlikelier that he is going to win.

“We must bear in mind that Dr Mahathir’s popularity had also plummeted,” he said. 

He added that the by-election is also actually PKR’s platform “to teach Dr Mahathir” a lesson, by letting him compete in a battle that he cannot win. 

“I don’t believe PKR is going all out for Dr Mahathir after what he had done to Anwar (Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim), and this is their way of teaching him a lesson. To tell the world that Dr Mahathir is not as influential as he makes himself to be,” he said. 

The Election Commission has fixed Aug 25 for early voting while polling day is on Aug 29.

The by-election is being held following the death of its four-term assemblyman Datuk Mohd Khusairi Abdul Talib of Umno on July 15.

In the last general election, Mohd Khusairi defended the state seat with a majority of 2,183 votes by defeating Mohd Amran Ibrahim of Pribumi Bersatu and Muhammad Zulfadli Zainal of PAS.

By : Ahirul Ahirudin – THE MOLE

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