Analysts: Anger will swing votes to Pakatan in fresh polls

i967.photobucket.com_albums_ae159_Malaysia-Today_Mug shots_ibrahimsuffian_zps64d93bb9

(MM) – Malaysians angry with two recent court rulings against opposition leaders will likely make the Barisan Nasional (BN) pay at the ballot box, political analysts said.

This is because they see the ruling coalition as having a hand in the sodomy conviction of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and his ally, Karpal Singh, who was fined RM4,000 for sedition — which could effectively be the end of the duo’s political career, the pundits added.

Ibrahim Suffian (pic) said should by-elections be called for Anwar’s Permatang Pauh seat and Karpal’s Bukit Gelugor seat, those who already support the PKR-DAP-PAS pact would likely “go all out to ensure BN loses”.

“There will be sympathy votes, protest votes and of course, other issues such as inflation will also come into the picture, which will only help PR in any by-election,” the director of independent pollster Merdeka Centre told The Malay Mail Online when contacted, referring to the wave of support for the Pakatan Rakyat (PR) opposition bloc.

Those who were previously undecided would now likely vote for PR, Ibrahim added.

Anwar was sentenced to a five-year jail term by the Court of Appeal after it reversed his acquittal from a lower court on March 7 while the High Court fined Karpal RM4,000 the following week for saying legal action could be taken against the Perak sultan over a 2009 constitutional crisis that broke out in the state.

Both lawmakers stand to be stripped of their office under a federal law that disqualifies convicted elected representatives who are penalised with a fine of over RM2,000 or a jail term of more than one year.

The duo have yet to exhaust all avenues for appeal, however, allowing them to hold on to their seats for now.

But brewing public anger against BN is expected to culminate this Sunday, observers say, when  the ruling pact faces no other than Anwar’s wife and PKR president, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail in a straight fight for the Kajang state seat.

Monash University Malaysia’s political science professor James Chin noted the court judgements had played out in the run-up to fresh polls for Kajang, a suburban Selangor seat that had been voluntarily vacated by its PKR representative to bolster Anwar’s presence in the country’s richest state.

“BN will have no chance at all and it would be so much harder for BN to win in the Kajang by-election,” Chin told The Malay Mail Online.

Independent political analyst Khoo Kay Peng agreed.

“Wan Azizah will be the main factor to unite the fighting factions within the opposition, especially those who were against the idea of the by-election being held as a way to settle party in-fighting,” he said.

He said the way Anwar’s sodomy court case and Karpal’s sedition case had been played out had made them appear to be “political in nature”, which cast the judiciary’s independence into doubt, and which he said was likely to boomerang on the federal coalition.

Khoo warned that the events surrounding Anwar’s second conviction of sodomy strongly resembled the latter’s first in 1999, adding that the incident had led to the birth of a new party, Keadilan, the precursor to present-day PKR.

“Now, the only difference is the party is part of an opposition coalition and it is stronger,” he said.

But Khoo believes that fresh polls for Permatang Pauh and Bukit Gelugor will not be immediate, noting that both Anwar and Karpal had yet to exhaust their court appeals, which could drag for years, during which both will remain MPs.

Such a scenario, he said, was also to PR’s advantage as the coalition would have more time to bolster its fragmented troops and unite against a common foe once more.