Tanjung Piai by-election crucial for Umno to test political support of non-Malays, says research outfit

KPRU's report suggested that should support for BN and PAS remain the same as in GE14, this would spell victory for the duo. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri
KPRU's report suggested that should support for BN and PAS remain the same as in GE14, this would spell victory for the duo. — Picture by Ahmad Zamzahuri

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 30 — The upcoming Tanjung Piai by-election presents an opportunity for Umno to show where their political priorities stand following its unification with PAS, the Institute of Political Studies for Change (KPRU) has suggested.

KPRU researcher See Wei Ming, in a report, explained how it was important for Umno to pick an appropriate candidate to also garner the support of the non-Malays and prove their political resurgence is not temporary.

“It (the by-election) is also a yardstick to evaluate Umno’s priorities. After the Umno-PAS unification, Umno’s strategy is still unclear, whether it is more based on the narrow ideologies of PAS or is it more towards the Barisan Nasional (BN) model that had emphasised cooperation between parties of all races.

“However, this by-election also has the potential for the Opposition to test the acceptance of Chinese and Indian voters towards opposition candidates.

“If Umno fields its own candidate in the by-election, then it would prove the stereotype within the Chinese community that MCA is down the pecking order within BN,” said the report, adding how the situation should see MCA be interested in fielding its candidate.

The report also indicated how 57 per cent of voters within the constituency are Malays, 42 per cent Chinese, and one per cent Indian voters, and how the incumbent MP, the late Md Farid Mohd Rafik, had won with a slim majority of just 524 votes in GE14.

The Tanjung Piai parliamentary seat became vacant following the death of Md Farid, who passed away on Sept 22.

The deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia leader was 42-years-old when he died of a heart attack.

Given the demographic, the report today pointed out how the Umno-PAS pact could potentially come out victorious by just garnering the support of all Malay voters within the constituency, given how Johor was the birthplace of Umno.

The report suggested that should support for BN and PAS remain the same as in GE14, the parliamentary seat would almost certainly be snatched away from Pakatan Harapan.

“That is why the Umno grassroots are hoping the seat would be contested by an Umno candidate and not one from MCA.

“Additionally, the state of Johor is the birth place of Umno and will always be seen as a party stronghold. Because of that, recapturing this seat is of great importance to Umno,” said the report.

The report added how current political developments have also adversely affected PH’s chances of retaining the seat.

Issues such as accusations of PH not championing Islam, for the apparent lack of action in addressing tensions involving race among the public, their constant blame game on the previous administration for not coming through on their manifesto promises, were listed as potential reasons that could spell defeat for Pakatan.

It also pointed out how the resurgence of Umno should not be taken lightly by the ruling coalition or overlooked as just a strategy to maintain and save their political relevance.

“On the flip side, Umno still has the support from the biggest race in Malaysia.

“With the support of PAS, the merger has a high potential to recapture the Tanjung Piai seat as well as the majority of seats in the Peninsular from the hands of the PH government.

The KPRU report did, however, acknowledge that racial politics have become outdated and no longer in line with the current global political developments, where humanity is facing more complex issues other than racial ones.

“A political party based race and religion will face a big challenge to alter its ideologies and adjust themselves in the era of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Big Data, global climate change and other issues that may arise in this century, which needs a political system that is liberal and willing to accept change,” said the report.

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