Anwar in the front, PAS, independents to lose their election deposit - Ilham Centre

Ahmad Suhael Adnan

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has the opportunity to carry the Port Dickson by-election through a huge win.

Executive Director of Ilham Centre, Azlan Zainal said a survey by the independent research firm showed that the incoming PKR president is not facing any competition from the six other candidates vying for the seat.

He said the candidate seen to be the nearest challenger to Anwar was former Negri Sembilan Menteri Besar, Tan Sri Mohd Isa Abdul Samad, while PAS candidate, Left Col (R) Mohd Nazari Mokhtar was likely to lose his election deposit.

He said the status of Anwar as the prime minister in waiting also gave him the advantage to be more prominent in the by-election compared to other candidates. "Anwar remains the single most admired candidate in a series of campaigns which was carried out in an organised manner as well as an election machinery placed at each polling center and the variation of campaign materials that can be seen around Port Dickson, also helped the cause.

"The findings showed that 64 percent of voters accepted Anwar who chose Port Dickson as his base to become the Prime Minister after Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

"The question arising among voter’s, is the extent of Anwar's desire to remain in Port Dickson in the 15th General Election (GE-15), if he wins (in the by-election) as he has no sentimental value and legacy attached to the constituency," he said in a statement.

Azlan said a survey involving 817 respondents in Port Dickson also found that Isa still had a strong influence, especially in the Bagan Pinang State and Linggi state constituencies. This was despite the veteran politician not standing under the Barisan Nasional (BN) or UMNO banner.

He said older voters and Umno veterans appreciate the deed and service Isa had rendered in developing their respective areas when was the Bagan Pinang state assemblyman and Mentri Besar.

However, Isa's decision, to contest as an independent candidate would likely affect the votes coming from some Umno members and supporters as well as voters who are below 40-years old, as they have no sentimental attachment to him.

"Isa has also lost the Chinese and Indian votes. The non-Malay voters are still favour of Pakatan Harapan (PH) and the rejection of candidates other than that coming from PH parties is quite strong,” Azlan said.

He said PAS's local election machinery was also paralysed and is still at a loss with the majority of its members joining Parti Amanah Negara (PAN). Their campaign was also focused only on Malay voters, especially in Umno strongholds.

"Based on our survey, PAS has failed to get enough Malay vote support and was ranked third after Isa,” he said

Apart from Pas, Azlan also expects all other Independent candidates to lose their election deposit.

Azlan admits that Dr Mahathir's presence in Port Dickson had also helped Anwar’s cause and give a morale boosting advantage to the PH election machinery campaign as well as provide the necessary impetus and confidence for Malay voters to cast their votes for the former Prime Minister.

“It’s as if though victory is certain for Anwar, but the position taken by Malay voters would become the main barometer of his success in Port Dickson.

The Port Dickson parliamentary seat was vacated by incumbent Datuk Danyal Balagopal Abdullah, 68, on Sept 12 to allow Anwar, who recently won the PKR presidency, to contest and return to parliament.

He had won the seat in GE 14 by a comfortable majority of 17,710 votes defeating Barisan Nasional Datuk V.S. Mogan and Mahfuz Roslan from PAS.

The constituency has 75,770 registered voters comprising Malays (43 per cent) Chinese (33 per cent), Indians (22 per cent) and other races (two per cent). © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd