Can Pakatan again benefit from multi-cornered fights in Melaka?

With Umno, Bersatu and PAS vying for same voter bank, PH could win, albeit with slim majority

AYER KEROH : Much talk in the political sphere over the past couple of days has been focused on Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) decision to field two former Umno reps as its candidate for the Melaka election.

But as the chatter subsides and dust settles, and with the majority of the candidates for the polls announced, attention has now swiftly shifted to the 28 seats up for grabs.

Melaka, long been Barisan Nasional’s (BN) bastion, switched hands for the first time during the national “political tsunami” in 2018 that swept the state into the hands of PH.

However, much of this was aided by three-cornered fights in most of the constituencies, which saw PAS – fresh from quitting then opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat – contesting in all but four seats, effectively splitting the vote. 

PAS went on to lose all its seats, but its candidates garnered enough votes to ensure the BN state government fell.

PH eventually won 15 of the 28 seats, while BN only captured 13. 

Had the Islamist party contested under the BN banner then, or sat out, things could have turned out much differently. 

In all, six of the Melaka seats that PH won in 2018 could have gone BN’s way if its votes were combined with that of PAS, namely, Gadek, Durian Tunggal, Kelebang, Duyong, Telok Mas and Bemban.

Can Pakatan again benefit from multi-cornered fights in Melaka?
By not banking on the Malay-Muslim vote, Pakatan Harapan could slip past the Umno-Bersatu-PAS wrestling match and emerge victor in several constituencies. – The Vibes file pic

Today, a similar situation could unfold in the coastal state, as all 28 seats will feature at least three-cornered fights. 

The difference this time is that PAS will be contesting under the Perikatan Nasional (PN) banner led by lynchpin party Bersatu.

Six Melaka seats – Gadek, Durian Tunggal, Kelebang, Duyong, Telok Mas and Bemban – could have gone to BN in 2018 if its votes were combined with that of PAS. – Bernama pic, November 8, 2021
Six Melaka seats – Gadek, Durian Tunggal, Kelebang, Duyong, Telok Mas and Bemban – could have gone to BN in 2018 if its votes were combined with that of PAS. – Bernama pic

Being part of the government, PN is set to pose an even tougher challenge to BN in the latter’s bid to recapture the state, compared with 2018 when PAS contested solo. 

Even Umno’s stronghold seats could now potentially be at risk of changing hands. 

Take Lendu for example, the seat currently held by immediate past chief minister Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali. Since its inception, it has been won comfortably by Umno, barring the last election, when Sulaiman only had a 627-vote majority. 

This is no thanks to PAS, whose candidate won 1,163 votes, accounting for 13.57% of the overall ballots cast. PH, meanwhile, obtained 3,389 votes (39.56%) then. 

Now, with PAS working with Bersatu, the PN pact can be expected to steal even more votes, inadvertently delivering the seat to PH.

This might explain Umno’s decision to field party strongman and state BN chief Datuk Seri Ab Rauf Yusoh – an individual who typically works behind the scenes – in the Melaka election, perhaps as a fail-safe in the event Sulaiman loses. 

Rauf will contest in Tg Bidara, which Umno considers a safe seat. Umno’s Md Rawi Mahmud won 58.15% of the votes in 2018, making it the biggest win for Umno in the state.

Putting Melaka BN chief Datuk Seri Ab Rauf Yusoh (pic) up front and centre in Tg Bidara – an Umno stronghold – is perhaps a fail-safe in the event Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali loses the Lendu seat. – The Vibes file pic, November 8, 2021
Putting Melaka BN chief Datuk Seri Ab Rauf Yusoh (pic) up front and centre in Tg Bidara – an Umno stronghold – is perhaps a fail-safe in the event Datuk Seri Sulaiman Md Ali loses the Lendu seat. – The Vibes file pic

However, this month’s election could tell a different story, particularly after Bersatu decided to field Rauf’s former protege Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsuddin.

Mas Ermieyati, who is currently a deputy minister and Masjid Tanah MP – the parliamentary constituency comprising Tg Bidara, among others – could use her position in her favour. 

As things stand, PH appears to be the one benefiting from multi-cornered fights, especially with Umno and Bersatu-PAS largely vying for the same voter bank – the Malay-Muslims. 

While this may be the case, the Covid-19 pandemic could also play a significant role in potentially determining the outcome of the election. 

For one, voter turnout is expected to be considerably lower than the 84.5% recorded in 2018. 

And with no physical activity allowed throughout the campaigning period, this could derail PH’s chances, as government parties will have the added advantage of exposure afforded via mainstream media. 

With nomination taking place later this morning and polling set for November 20, at least parties will have 12 days to gauge ground sentiment and try to swing votes in their favour.

By : Amar Shah Mohsen – THE VIBES

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