UALA LUMPUR, Nov 18 ― Bersatu’s Datuk Mas Ermieyati Samsudin has the potential to be Melaka’s first woman chief minister, according to democracy outreach organisation Kuasa.

The non-government outfit predicted that she is likely to be nominated as the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition’s chief minister if she wins the Tanjung Bidara hot seat, which is contested by two others.

Kuasa president Praba Ganesan said Mas Ermieyati would present a challenge to Umno as the latter has quickly established herself inside Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia ― a component of PN ― after quitting Umno as the head of its young women’s wing, Puteri, in July 2018.

Praba further noted that Mas Ermieyati, a native Melakan as well as Masjid Tanah MP, had ousted then veteran Datuk Seri Redzuan Md Yusof in the Bersatu Masjid Tanah division chief polls back in February 2020, cementing her position within the party ranks.

Her position has been further consolidated after she was named a deputy minister in the current federal government led by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaacob, Praba said.

He added that these credentials add to her broad appeal to Melaka voters.

“Since Mas Ermieyati has left Umno, the dynamics have changed. Despite Masjid Tanah being a traditional Umno stronghold, Mas Ermieyati has the necessary grassroots support as can be observed during the division polls results last year.

“The point to make is, even if she is seen as an Umno leader locally, there is a significant change where there is a large break away from Umno that exists in Masjid Tanah,” he told a press conference here today.

Praba said that is why Tanjung Bidara is a hot seat and the three-way race with Mas Ermieyati facing Zainal Hassan from Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Melaka Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Datuk Seri Ab Rauf Yusoh.

The Tanjung Bidara state seat falls under the greater Masjid Tanah parliamentary seat.

The state seat was won by Datuk Md Rawi Mahmud in the May 2018 general election, who garnered 58.1 per cent of the vote.

Other hot seats

Apart from Tanjung Bidara, Praba said there are six other state seats that can be considered “vote disruptors”, where certain candidates would likely disrupt the race to their favour.

They are: Asahan, Pantai Kundor, Pengkalan Batu, Lendu, Gadek and Paya Rumput.

For Asahan, Praba said Datuk Seri Idris Haron, who was sacked from Umno and is now contesting on a PH ticket, is the disruptive element since there could a possibility of the latter emerging victorious due to his familiarity with the locals throughout his tenure as chief minister.

“It is likely they moved him from the adjacent Sungai Udang seat to Asasah as PH is confident of wresting the seat from Umno which was won with a very slim majority of 45.8 per cent in 2018,” he said.

Idris was Melaka chief minister from 2013 to 2018 and won Sungai Udang in Election 2018.

Praba also said that the PN coalition ― comprising Bersatu, Gerakan and PAS ― should not be written off so early as it may triumph over Umno and PH in the state election.

“There is no major infighting in the coalition and there is no uncertainty over leadership.

“However, for Umno, its president is too distracted with his own political survival and has a poor working relationship with his deputy, Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan.

“Both the PH and Umno-led governments have fallen in the last three years and the voters may give PN a chance this time,” Praba said.

Separately, Praba also said Kuasa has launched a website, Kwiki, as a one-stop information site on the candidates currently contesting in the state election.

He described it as a non-partisan initiative.

He said the need for a website to compile all of the candidates’ basic information such as video contents produced on their campaigns was necessary to facilitate a fair democratic process where voters could make an informed decision.

Concerns have been raised on difficulties in campaigning as both the Health Ministry and the Election Commission have disallowed large gatherings and public campaigning to prevent another Covid-19 surge after last year’s Sabah state election.

Candidates have had to resort to social media and being creative in order to introduce themselves to the voters.

“Most of these new candidates are new and do not have a sufficient digital following, probably due to their accounts being new or without high subscription that makes it difficult for voters to know them online.

“Kuasa’s webpage is functional and puts the races, the candidates, their own promotional material and other related content about them. The value of the content is up to voters to decide,” he said, adding the website is now live for viewing.

Information on each candidate is organised according to the seat, political party, promotional content (self-produced content) and related content (third-party write-ups of their campaigning).