PORT DICKSON, Oct 12 — With less than 24 hours to go until the forced Port Dickson by-election, most candidates will likely wrap up their campaign early this evening.
But Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is yet to rest on his laurels, with a “grand finale” ceramah planned tonight even as he is expected to win the contest with a whopping majority — although likely lower than Datuk Danyal Balagopal Abdullah’s 17,710 votes.
Trailing behind Anwar will likely be local boy Tan Sri Isa Samad, with a few thousands votes behind.
After resigning from Umno to bank on his historic and personal relationship with the area, Isa has been devoid of an effective machinery that can sustain his hold, despite being the only one on home ground.
Isa’s campaign has been low profile, focusing mostly on Malay and ethnic Indian areas, while largely forsaking ethnic Chinese voters.
PAS’ Lt Col (Rtd) Mohd Nazari Mokhtar will likely be the second runner-up with slightly more than 3,000 votes, consistent with the Islamist party’s recent performances.
Considered a “late bloomer”, Nazari had only started making rounds just one week before polling, at a time when Anwar had already covered almost every ground.
The other candidates bar Isa — Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan, Stevie Chan Keng Leong, Lau Seck Yan and Kan Chee Yuen — will likely lose their deposits.
Bolstering Anwar’s performance would be his aggressive campaigning and well-oiled PKR machinery, leaving other candidates little room to influence voters.
Straight after nomination, his campaign workers have parked themselves in various villages in all five state seats under Port Dickson: Chuah, Lukut, Bagan Pinang, Linggi and Seri Tanjung.
The recent appearance of Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad and several Cabinet members would also add credence to Anwar’s bid to be the next prime minister.
Since DAP seems to have delivered its pledge to rally ethnic Chinese voters that make up 33 per cent of the 75,381 voters, Anwar’s campaigners had only needed to focus on the Malay voters (43 per cent) and ethnic Indians (22 per cent).
Political analysts and observers are predicting that Anwar will gain around 13,000 votes ahead, but only if voter turnout reach 60 per cent. But even if turnout is reduced to 50 per cent, Anwar’s majority will only be cut by around 1,000, they said.
Observers believed that Danyal had achieved his majority on May 9 by banking on voters’ desire to replace Barisan Nasional.
But this time around, ethnic Chinese voters are still undecided over giving Anwar the chance as prime minister, while the Malays believe Anwar was too hasty and that Isa should be given the chance due to his past contributions.
As voters head to the ballots tomorrow, Anwar would surely pray for a sunny day. Only a convincing majority and turnout would serve as a solid endorsement in his bid for the country’s top post.