Analysts rate BN’s chances better than PH in Tg Piai

(FMT) – Political analysts see Barisan Nasional as standing a better chance at winning the Tanjung Piai by-election despite fielding an MCA candidate in the Malay-majority seat.

Speaking to FMT, Kamarul Zaman Yusof, from Universiti Utara Malaysia, said although BN’s Wee Jeck Seng was not seen as being PAS-friendly, the Islamist party was not a big factor in Tanjung Piai.

“So the issue of his opposition to Act 355 will not have a big impact on voting trends,” he said, referring to the Syariah Courts (Criminal Jurisdiction) Act which PAS has been pushing for.

The by-election for the parliamentary seat will see a six-cornered fight between Pakatan Harapan’s Karmaine Sardini, BN’s Wee, Gerakan’s Wendy Subramaniam, Berjasa’s Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz and independents Ang Uan Lock and Faridah Aryani Abdul Ghaffar.

Kamarul said he believed BN fielded Wee for two strategic reasons, the first being the former deputy minister’s popularity and track record, having served as Tanjung Piai MP for two terms.

“The second strategy is to dispel the notion in the long run, that the Muafakat Nasional (between Umno and PAS) is racist even though Wee could lose.

“With the negative sentiments of the Malays against PH of late, it is not impossible that some of them will vote BN or Gerakan.”

Berjasa’s entry into the contest, he said, would have little impact as Malaysians tend to vote for parties. It may benefit BN as the Berjasa candidate may draw protest votes from unhappy PH voters.

Regardless of whether BN wins or loses, Kamarul said it would be a moral victory for Muafakat Nasional as it shows their willingness to shed their racial image.

The Tanjung Piai by-election was triggered by the death of its incumbent, PPBM’s Dr Md Farid Md Rafik, who had won it by 524 votes in a three-way contest against BN and PAS candidates in GE14 last year.

Some 57% of voters there are Malays, followed by Chinese (42%) and Indians (1%).

Pakatan Harapan will have to face opposition from voters unhappy that many of the GE14 manifesto promises have not been fulfilled.

‘PAS supporters will vote for BN’

Universiti Teknologi Malaysia analyst Azmi Hassan also believes BN stands a better chance to win the seat given the high possibility that PAS supporters will vote for BN.

“The reality is that the fight between BN and PH is the real focus,” he said, adding that while Gerakan’s candidate seemed like a breath of fresh air, given her credentials, the party could offer little, more so since its influence in Johor and Tanjung Piai is minor.

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya’s Awang Azman Awang Pawi believes both PH and BN stand a 50-50 chance as their candidates had credibility.

On top of their academic backgrounds, Awang noted that neither Wee nor Karmaine came with any form of political baggage, nor were they implicated in any scandals.

He said while PH will benefit from a stronger machinery, given that they now control the state and federal government, the coalition is burdened by unfulfilled manifesto promises.

“The economy is not good, the cost of living is high, there is a lack of job opportunities, there are Malay issues and a fragile unity. This is on top of local issues like roads, which have not been properly maintained, social issues and crime.”

The people, he said, would be pessimistic about promises made as those in the old PH manifesto remain unfulfilled.