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A political test bed

  • The significance lies with the fact that Sungai Kandis being a political test bed will test the effectiveness of Umno-PAS cooperation and which way Umno is headed to hereafter.

Sin Chew Daily

The Sungai Kandis by-election is quieter and calmer than imagined. Nevertheless, results of the Saturday polls are going to be way more important than most people might think.

I'm not trying to hint at any unexpected outcome. I absolutely believe that PH will win the election, and what matters is the margin of majority.

Anyway, the constituency is a PKR stronghold that was won in GE14 by PH by a long shot. No matter how the voters evaluate PH's performance during the last three months, that is not enough to turn the tide around.

The thing is, this is going to be the first election that will put the Umno-PAS tie-up to test. PAS has conceded the seat to BN so that BN can fight PH one-on-one.

Umno and PAS have learned from the GE14 experiences that their voter bases were actually overlapping. If both parties come up with their own candidates, their supporters would only vote for either, causing their votes to be diluted.

Both parties have played the same race-religion card, with Umno placing slightly more emphasis on race and PAS on Islam.

On the contrary, PH's supporters are less dispersed, not to mention the overwhelming backing from non-Malays, giving PH good chances of defeating BN and PAS.

This scenario is particularly evident on the west coast of Peninsular Malaysia and has become a critical factor for PH's victory in the election.

Of course, Umno and PAS have yet to form an official alliance, but Sungai Kandis will serve as a test bed to gauge the voters' reactions. This is important for the two parties.

Sandwiched between Klang and Shah Alam, Sungai Kandis is a semi-rural Malay-majority seat with 72% of voters being Malays, 16% Indians and 12% Chinese.

In the May general elections, PH won almost 24,000 votes, more than BN's 11,518 and PAS' 7,573 combined. This is what BN needs to come to terms with.

Moreover, even if PAS is not contesting, the votes that went to PAS may not necessarily go to BN, and sure enough some will turn to PH this time,

Similarly, votes that went to PH may now go to BN because of the Umno-PAS cooperation.

Sungai Kandis is also a test bed for another parameter: Umno's political roadmap.

Umno's candidate Lokman Noor Adam is a rising star post-GE14.

Umno has been at a low following its lackluster performance in the general elections. Some of its leaders are feeling depressed while others are just observing and semi-paralyzed.

And then came Lokman, a second- or even third-liner in the party. He openly supports Najib, slams Mahathir and PH, and chants ferocious slogans in defense of the Malays, Muslims and Malay Rulers.

He has given Umno a jab of energy when the party is at a loss.

He instantly becomes the flag-bearer for Umno's rightists and conservatives, and was elected the party's supreme council member in the recent party elections.

Lokman used to have nothing to do with Sungai Kandis prior to this. Born in Johor, he is not even a Selangor resident.

He was picked by Umno mainly to test whether his way could be converted into votes.

Lokman's winning chances are extremely slim, but if he manages to increase the Malay votes, to a large extent it will make his style, and Malay nationalism, more readily adopted by the party's top leadership.

If Lokman loses very badly, then it proves that aggressive nationalism has no place in the Malaysian society, and Umno has no choice but to reverse its policy.

The significance of Sungai Kandis is not about winning the election, as we know PH is going to win anyway. The significance lies with the fact that Sungai Kandis being a political test bed will test the effectiveness of Umno-PAS cooperation and which way Umno is headed to hereafter.

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