A referendum on the Perak power grab

Anil Netto takes a look at the Bukit Gantang parliamentary seat in Perak the results of which should indicate to us whether the people regard Nizar as their “Mentri Besar yang sah”.

The Bukit Gantang parliamentary by-election is turning out to be a referendum on the recent power grab in Perak led by Najib with Zambry as figure-head.

The by-election pits Nizar, who needs no further introduction, with Ismail Safian, a Solid Waste Management and Public Cleaning Corporation human resources director. A USM graduate from the Housing, Building and Planning faculty, Ismail is the Kampung Kubu Umno deputy branch chairman.

In the larger scheme of things, it will also be a referendum on Najib’s ascension to the top post in the land as well as the Pakatan’s claim that Nizar is the “Mentri Besar yang sah”.  The prospect of Najib taking over the country will figure prominently in all three by-elections.

Taking overall charge of all three by-elections will be the new Umno deputy president Muhyiddin Yassin. This means Najib will no longer be directly involved in the  three by-election campaigns – after leading the BN to two embarrassing by-election losses in Permatang Pauh and Kuala Terengganu. But we can be almost certain he will be keeping close tabs on how all three campaigns are progressing.

Locally, the by-election will be a big test for Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, who has been tasked with spearheading the Batu Gantang by-election. Zahid polled the highest among the three Umno vice-presidents.

The Pakatan, on the other hand, will rely on Nizar and Perak Speaker Sivakumar as their main trump cards. Between the two of them, they should be more than a match for the BN.  

The seat fell vacant following the death of its former MP Roslan Shahrum from Pas on Feb 9.