Cards are stacked against PAS

The battle resumes in Merlimau but for PAS, it is a lost cause while BN only has to worry about its margin of victory.

(Free Malaysia Today) – The “electoral battle” is on again for two traditional political enemies – Barisan Nasional (BN) and PAS – and this time they may be facing off in Merlimau, Malacca.

It is learnt that Pakatan Rakyat, the opposition alliance, is likely to endorse a PAS candidate for the by-election.

The stake is just a small state seat – about 45 sq km in size – with only about 10,400-odd voters, comprising mainly 6,684 Malays (64%), 2,190 Chinese (21%), and 1,460 Indians (14%).

Political observers, analysts and even the man in the street have given the thumbs-up to BN even before nomination on Feb 26.

For PAS, even with the help of its allies DAP and PKR, the political battle will be tough as the turf is a strong BN bastion.

PAS failed to unseat BN for the seat in the 2008 general election despite the political tsunami and the coming by-election does not show any change in the voting trend.

In 2008, BN retained the seat with a majority of 2,154 votes while in the 2004 general election, BN put up a good fight, garnering 5,087 votes.

PAS realises that its chances of capturing the Merlimau fort are slim given that it was mauled in the Tenang clash three weeks ago. It was bested by BN which garnered a handsome majority of 3,707 votes for the state seat in the by-election in Johor.

Popular figure

Licking its wound, PAS at first contemplated on staying away from the Merlimau polls but the party leadership decided to jump in despite knowing the odds. Perhaps, the Islamist party feels it must maintain a high profile to stay relevant.

Like in Tenang, local issues will not figure prominently in Merlimau considering that the late assemblyman Mohd Hidhir Abu Hassan had done a good job in servicing the constituents.

Moreover, Malacca Chief Minister Mohd Ali Rustam is a popular figure who has done much to solve many of the problems faced by the people.

Merlimau is an urban seat and only a 20-minute drive to the city centre. The folk there have easy access to Ali.

When the seat fell vacant three weeks ago, PKR initially wanted to contest since the PAS top leadership showed signs of reluctance.

However, PKR has done some groundwork in Merlimau and found out that it stands no chance of unseating BN. Thus, it has given up its Merlimau project and left the field open to PAS.