No smooth sailing for Pakatan in Seri Setia race

Zainal Epi
Petaling Jaya City councillor Halimey Abu Bakar (second left) will defend the Seri Setia state seat in the by-election. — Picture by Hari Anggara

PETALING JAYA, Aug 17 — Pakatan Harapan (PH) may find it tough to retain its majority in the Seri Setia by-election as the ruling coalition struggles with attempts to fulfill its general election pledges.

PH may face an uphill battle by fielding former Petaling Jaya councillor Halimey Abu Bakar from PKR to slug it out with PAS’ Dr Halimah Ali, as Barisan Nasional (BN) gives way to the Islamist party.

Halimey is no stranger to politics and the constituency as he had previously helmed the position of Selangor PKR Youth chief between 2006 and 2009, but infighting within PKR may put him at a disadvantage.

PAS candidate Dr Halimah seems to possess a better record as the doctor by training was formerly the Selat Klang assemblyman and the Selangor executive councillor for education during the tenure of Menteri Besar Tan Sri Abdul Khalid Ibrahim.

She was one of the four PAS members who quit their posts in the state government in 2014 in support of Khalid.

Besides that, she successfully raised six children who are all doctors, a reflection of a successful mother admired by both Malays and non-Malays.

Moreover, PAS has a full load of “ammunitions and artillery” in the 21-day campaign, as the new PH government tries hard to fulfill its pledges made in the May 9 general election, especially those it has yet to implement in its first 100 days of office.

PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang had in fact fired the party’s first salvo when announcing his party’s candidate on Wednesday, claiming PH has yet to fulfill their pledges to “instantly" abolish highway tolls and reduce the price of petrol.

"They (Pakatan) said their manifesto is not a Kitab Suci (Holy Book)," said Hadi.

The battle line is drawn clear and the field is wide open where PAS, aided by BN, will have all the time and resources to dent PH’s fort.

The Seri Setia seat fell vacant when assemblyman and Selangor exco Prof Dr Shaharuddin Badaruddin died on August 2 from colon cancer.

He had 30 years experience in the academic and management field, having served as a lecturer at Universiti Teknologi MARA for 30 years in various campuses.

He was also the former Deputy Vice Chancellor and Vice President of Universiti Selangor (Unisel).

The father of six won the seat in GE14 with a majority of 19,372 votes when he garnered 29,250 votes against BN’s Yusoff M. Haniff, who polled 9,878 votes and PAS’ Mohd Ghazali Daud who polled 4,563 votes.

According to the Election Commission, there are 53,492 registered voters in the constituency.

Nominations have been fixed for tomorrow while polling for the Selangor state constituency is fixed for 8 Sept.

Halimey is expected to be on the defensive in the campaign trail as he has to face two political attacks – one from within his party and another from without as PH delays implementing its election pledges.

While he will get help from the PH leaders in thwarting attacks on the coalition’s GE14 pledges, internal attacks may dent his credibility when he needs it most.

The upcoming PKR election may put Halimey in an awkward situation as his comrades are split in support accordingly to the factions in the party, despite calls from the party leadership to focus on the by-election.

His leaning itself in the battle between incumbent deputy president Datuk Seri Azmin Ali and rival Rafizi Ramli may be questioned before supporters of either faction begin campaigning.

Rafizi’s attempt to unseat Azmin as deputy president is seen as a ‘do and die’ battle which will influence and determine support for Halimey, who is reportedly in Azmin’s camp.

Grassroot members are questioning why Halimey should be fielded when he was previously a Petaling Jaya councillor, considered a reward as an active member in his party division.

As the battle for the No 2 spot in PKR continues, Seri Setia may remain unstable and shaky for PH, even if the coalition is expected to retain the seat.

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