Polls dry run shows BN can lose Perak, Negri Sembilan

By Jahabar Siddiq, The Malaysian Insider

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 1 — The ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) could lose Perak and Negri Sembilan in the next general elections, according to results of a recent dry run. Unless component parties put popular faces and ensure the grassroots machinery garner support from voters.

The Malaysian Insider understands that the Umno election dry run also showed that the BN fortress of Johor could see up to 15 out of the 56 state seats go to their political opponents Pakatan Rakyat (PR), something unheard before Election 2008 when the ruling coalition lost six seats.

It is also learnt that Perlis, where BN holds 14 out of the 15 state seats, could see several state and one of the three federal seats going to PR due to anger over Putrajaya putting Wahhabi preachers including state mufti Dr Juanda Jaya on a terror watch list.

“The dry run has shown a lot of weaknesses. And the Wahhabi issue is not helping,” an Umno source told The Malaysian Insider.

An upcoming Umno leader expressed similar sentiments, saying BN must put new faces to renew the coalition while getting respective party machineries to go all out for support.

“The problem is while the Umno machinery can work if given the motivation, members of the other component parties do not appear to be that motivated,” said the Umno leader, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

He revealed that the dry run showed Umno could only win 27 seats in the 59-seat Perak state assembly despite BN ruling the state since February 2009 after a series of defections toppled the state Pakatan Rakyat (PR) government.

In June, the state Umno was confident of getting 33 seats, with Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir dismissing The Malaysian Insider’s report that victory is only assured if right candidates are picked.

It was learnt that several  Perak Umno divisional leaders were loath to campaign or register new voters unless they were certain about the likely candidates for the next general elections.