COMMENTARY, April 11 — Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is expected to give Pakatan Harapan (PH) the final push tomorrow night in the last leg of the Rantau by-election scheduled for Saturday.
Dr Mahathir may come down to Rantau to give PH the much needed help it needs to increase their chance of unseating Barisan Nasional (BN), whose candidate is proven to have entrenched his position in the once sleepy hollow area.
PH candidate Dr S. Streram seems to be still behind his rival and his attempt is heavily aided by his party president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to the extent that voters see the political battle as being Anwar and BN candidate Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.
With Anwar at the forefront, Dr Streram gets to get personal with voters whom majority he may probably meet the first time.
Dr Mahathir’s presence in Bandar Baru Sendayan tomorrow night, the final hour of the campaign period, may add the odds of winning for PH as on the fence voters will not be ‘turned around’ by BN campaigners as it is the end of the campaign period.
For BN, its final showing is tonight where acting Umno president Mohamad Hasan will share the same stage with PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang.
The campaign trail has been fierce and vigorous but Mohamad Hasan, or fondly known as Tok Mat, has been the main target of the ruling party where personal issues take centre stage to chip off his strong standing among the voters.
The main issues have been on high cost of living and PH’s unfulfilled promises where BN has highlighting without going into Dr Streram’s personal issues.
Besides that, policies announced such as low dividend for Tabung Haji depositors and the resignation of Johor Mentri Besar Datuk Osman Sapian have become ‘added value’ to BN’s campaign.
Tonight’s BN and PAS leaders’ speeches are expected to touch on their political cooperation which may result in the strengthening of the existing voters as well as add votes of Malays on the fence for BN.
BN seems to have managed to allay fears of the non-Malays on its cooperation with PAS which may be the impetus to a new political equation in the country.
One problem which both sides of the political divide are facing now is how to woo voters working in the city to return and vote.
This problem seems to affect PH more than BN given that PH outstation voters are mostly Chinese who work in cities outside Negri Sembilan and to return just to vote may not be strong enough a reason.
BN’s outstation voters work around Seremban and Senawang but they may not return with the assumption that Tok Mat may win so there is no need to return to vote.
Both sides of the political divide are now engaged in overdrive gear and overtime schedule to outdo each other in trying to win the hearts and minds of the 20,900-odd voters in which probably 70 per cent have already made up their minds who to vote for.