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Sungai Bakap by-election: 50-50 chances for unity government, PN

Publish date: Sun, 16 Jun 2024, 05:54 PM

GEORGE TOWN: Political analysts say both the unity government and Perikatan Nasional (PN) stand an equal chance of winning the Sungai Bakap by-election on July 6.

On Wednesday, the unity government named former educator Dr Joohari Ariffin, 60, as their candidate of choice.

Yesterday, PN named the late Pas assemblyman Nor Zamri Latiff's special officer Abidin Ismail to represent the coalition.

The Sungai Bakap by-election was called following Nor Zamri's death on May 24.

Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM)'s Professor Datuk Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said, interestingly, both coalitions had put forward very strong personalities as their candidates.

He said both coalitions stood an equal chance for now.

"As I have said, Joohari fulfils the 'winnable candidate' criteria for the unity government. But for Pas, Abidin is also 'winnable candidate' material.

"This is because he (Abidin) is a local, the Nibong Tebal Pas vice chief and had served the late Zamri as well.

"Both will have their traditional voters to fully support their candidate.

"The outcome of this election will mainly focus on the fence sitters (if they come out to vote) and Umno supporters, who cast their votes for PN in the last state election.

"I think it's still 50-50 - both have the chance as for now," he told the New Straits Times.

Sivamurugan said all this would also depend on the voters' turnout and machinery.

"The pressure is with Pas to retain and for PKR to perform as DAP managed to keep their Kuala Kubu Baharu (KKB) seat.

Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Dr Oh Ei Sun believes that Pas is banking on both a yearning for political continuity as well as a preference for a local candidate.

Being a special aide to the late assemblyman, he said, Abidin stood a good chance in retaining the seat.

"Just like his former boss, he does not appear to be an especially illustrious candidate, so the appeal of his party would have to loom large to push him over the winning edge.

"I can only say that the winning margin is likely to be similarly slim as the last round, as government incumbency would give the unity government the advantage.

"Pas, on the other hand, is helped by the lingering 'Green Wave' sentiments as well as the water shortage problem and the diesel subsidy cuts," he noted.

In the 2023 state elections, Zamri won the Sungai Bakap state seat against PKR's Nurhidayah Che Rus with a 1,563 vote-majority.

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