KOTA RAJA, July 20 — Umno has selected Datuk Lokman Noor Adam as its candidate for the Sungai Kandis by-election.
Lokman, a former PKR member, will take on an unknown newcomer from his old party, Mohd Zawawi Ahmad Mughni, in what is anticipated to be a fierce fight between Umno and PKR.
“After much consideration, we place our faith in someone young,” Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Muhammad Hasan said when announcing Lokman’s candidacy.
“This will be a ‘test kit’ [sic] for the public reception of BN (Barisan Nasional) post-GE14,” the former Negri Sembilan mentri besar said.
PAS, the country’s third political bloc, had said it would sit out the by-election, the first to be held after the just-concluded 14th general election (GE14) and seen widely as an early referendum on Pakatan Harapan (PH) rule.
On paper at least, Lokman will be seen as the political heavyweight. He is an Umno supreme council member with decades of political experience under his belt.
Lokman is also viewed as a firebrand, having built a reputation as a vocal Malay rights activist.
Despite that, the former PKR member has conceded that Umno will face an uphill battle to unseat PKR in Sungai Kandis.
“Even if we can win the PAS votes, we are still over 4,000 short,” Lokman said after his candidacy was announced.
“So we will have to work really hard.”
Zawawi, on the other hand, is less well-known. A Kota Raja native and tahfiz school principal, his candidacy was announced yesterday amid rumours of infighting.
Malay Mail learned that he was chosen over the Selangor PKR chapter’s pick, Mohd Razlan Jalaluddin, who is the former PKR coordinator for the Kota Damansara seat in GE14.
Rumours quickly spread that the veto over the selection process signalled a split between PKR’s leadership at the national and state levels, but top leaders denied this, saying the choice was a purely strategic one.
GE14 saw a four-cornered fight in Sungai Kandis between PKR, Umno, PAS and Parti Rakyat Malaysia, with PKR winning the seat with 23,998 votes.
Umno came in second place with 11,518 votes, while PAS trailed behind with 7,573 votes.
PKR also led PH to a third consecutive win in Selangor, asserting its dominance by thumping both Umno and PAS to increase its majority in the state legislative assembly despite having to face multi-cornered fights in the election.
Lokman said BN was aware that it will step into the race as the underdog, but expressed confidence that voter sentiment has changed in favour of the defeated coalition because PH has failed to deliver most of its election pledges.
“They can see that PH can’t fulfil its promises and this by-election will be the avenue for them to express their disappointment,” he said.
“And we believe they will.”