KUALA LUMPUR: The twin by-elections in Balakong and Seri Setia are widely seen as a test of character for the fledgling Pakatan Harapan government, 100 days after taking power.
These two by-elections could potentially be used to gauge the level of support it has from the people, as well as the collective effectiveness of the coalition, comprising PKR, DAP, Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu), now working as one as the government.
PH has passed its first hurdle when it retained the Sungai Kandis seat in the August 4 by-election, defeating Barisan Nasional by securing a 5,842 vote-majority, compared to the 12,480 votes during the 14th general election.
PH now faces tougher tests in Seri Setia and Balakong, which will see whether it can successfully retain the seats based on crowd support or on luck alone.
PH is flying its own flag for the first time in the two by-elections. However, there is another marked difference between these two battles and that of Sungai Kandis, as the opposition will have added ammunition.
PH can expect to be hit hard over its failure to meet its ambitious 100-day manifesto pledges, as well as its imbalanced Selangor state legislative assembly composition, which has a lack of opposition representation to ensure check and balance within the state government.
Another challenge is also seen in the form of Pas’ bolder cooperation with Umno for Seri Setia, done on the principles of the unity of the ‘ummah’. Pas is also expected to lend a hand to MCA in return when the latter contests in Balakong.
PH, however, have played it cool with regards to the expected onslaught over its failure to meet its manifesto promises.
PH is flying its own flag for the first time in the two by-elections. However, there is another marked difference between these two battles and that of Sungai Kandis, as the opposition will have added ammunition. Pix by Aizuddin Saad
As stressed by Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, PH “need not apologise” as they will continue to work on fulfilling the pledges.
Dr Wan Azizah had also voiced her optimism over the use of the PH symbol in the Seri Setia and Balakong by-elections, describing it as an advantage, and that the voters would eventually come to embrace the logo.
“This is the first time we are using the PH symbol. I acknowledge that it takes time for voters to familiarise themselves with something new,” she told the media after the nomination process at the Dewan Sivik Petaling Jaya City Council, on Saturday.
However, for Pas secretary-general, Datuk Takiyuddin Hassan, PH’s failure to meet its manifesto promises remains a key weapon which will be repeatedly in the Seri Setia by-election to draw voters.
“This is definitely one of the issues that will be raised. They (PH) threw out so many promises, and all too soon, to the point that voters had expected all these to be fulfilled,” he said.
Meanwhile, Umno information chief, Datuk Shamsul Anuar Nasarah, expressed Umno’s readiness to assist Pas in Seri Setia, and said this was proof that the ties between the two parties are growing ever stronger.
“Although there is no formal agreement, this cooperation offers a new dimension to the strength and unity of Muslim-Malays,” he said.
The Seri Setia and Balakong by-election will be held at the same time. The campaigning kicked off on Saturday, while voting day has been set for September 8.
The Balakong seat fell vacant following the death of its incumbent, DAP’s Eddie Ng Tien Chee, who died in a road accident on July 20. The Seri Setia seat, meanwhile, opened up after the death of its incumbent, Prof Dr Shaharuddin Badaruddin, of cancer on August 2. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd