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COMMENTARY, Nov 9 — A year after winning Tanjung Piai, Pakatan Harapan (PH) is in real jeopardy of losing the Johor parliamentary seat in just six days.
Engaging in a verbal war aside, PH campaigners have not had much success in getting voters on their side but instead have been dealt hard blows by Barisan Nasional, now the Opposition.
The first week after nomination day on November 2 saw its key vote bank in the last general election, the Chinese community openly distanced themselves from PH events.
Their trust and loyalty towards the DAP, if any, is declining fast with anger and discontent rising over unfulfilled electoral pledges made prior to Election 2018.
Even the presence of DAP supremo Lim Kit Siang failed to galvanise the community. Instead, many are flocking to BN ceramah where MCA candidate Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng holds court as someone voicing their frustrations.
Seeing this has given BN the confidence that it will not only gain a bigger majority — it lost by just 524 votes last year — but that voters may accept its recently inked alliance with PAS called Muafakat Nasional, or in English, national consensus.
“We want the result to reflect the acceptance of our philosophy of one Malaysia which is accepting the national consensus which will be our philosophy in the next general,” a BN campaigner said.
Bravado aside, the reality for voters is the daily struggle of rising living costs and a stagnant economy.
The workers and smallholders of the palm oil estates that dot this Johor outpost and the fishermen with their diminishing catch are earning paltry income while the youths who work in nearby Johor Baru or across the Causeway in Singapore are also struggling to make ends meet.
For Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin and its candidate Karmaine Sardini, such a political and economic landscape has made the PH campaign an uphill task.
Many in PH are hoping that when chairman and Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir will be able to turn the tide when he finally goes on the stump in Tanjung Piai.
But it could prove too little, too late by the time that happens. As one PH campaigner privately sighed: “dah lambat kot”.