KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 12 — Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s former aide Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan is only hoping to get sympathy votes from Port Dickson voters and has nothing to offer them, a think-tank said today.
Just a day before polling day for the Port Dickson by-election, think-tank Ilham Centre shared its observations of candidates, noting that Saiful Bukhari’s campaign and visits to voters only revolved around his sodomy case.
“The participation of Saiful Bukhari as an independent candidate in Port Dickson is just to haunt and mess with Anwar Ibrahim’s psychology,” Ilham Centre executive director Azlan Zainal said in a statement this evening.
Azlan said Saiful Bukhari would not be capable of providing competition to the top three contenders in the Port Dickson race for votes — Anwar, ex-Umno leader Tan Sri Isa Samad and PAS candidate Lt Col (Rtd) Mohd Nazari Mokhtar.
“His presence is more focused on getting votes from the Malays and rely on garnering sympathy on his personal issue with Anwar Ibrahim,” he added.
Saiful Bukhari is popularly known as the political aide who was allegedly sodomised by Anwar in 2008. Anwar was initially acquitted and then convicted of sodomy, but has since received a royal pardon in May.
Saiful Bukhari is also one of the five independent candidates in the Port Dickson by-election, with only two backed by political parties — PKR’s Anwar and the PAS candidate.
Citing past voting patterns in Malaysia where independent candidates usually fail to get more than two per cent of support from voters who turned up, Ilham Centre predicted that all independent candidates except for Isa would lose their deposits this time.
A weak PAS locally
Ilham Centre pinned Isa as the closest contender to the expected winner Anwar, while saying that the PAS candidate could come in the third place for the parliamentary seat in Negri Sembilan.
Ilham Centre said it had found the PAS local machinery to have been “paralysed” and its local support base shrinking after most of its members —- especially in the Telok Kemang area in Negri Sembilan — switched to PAS offshoot party Parti Amanah Negara in the past three years.
The think-tank said PAS relied mostly on external election machinery from Selangor PAS and Terengganu PAS for the by-election campaign in Port Dickson, while the local party machinery in Port Dickson and Negri Sembilan PAS seems to have “lost its capability and direction in driving a victory for PAS”.
It said PAS was focusing only on Malay voters especially those from Umno, hoping that they would vote for PAS as an alternative defender of Islam and Malays after Umno decided to boycott the Port Dickson by-election.
“Realising the difficulty of competing with Anwar, PAS main focus is only to maintain the votes garnered by them in the 14th general election and ensure they are the closest contender of Anwar Ibrahim,” the think-tank said.
The think-tank also said PAS’ original strategy was based on a possible straight fight with Anwar following the Umno boycott, but said this had been derailed by Isa’s shock decision to quit Umno to be an independent candidate.
“Based on our survey, PAS fails to get sufficient Malay voter support and is in the third spot after Isa, besides also being highly likely to lose its deposit,” the think-tank said, having also observed that Anwar’s expected comfortable win is due to strong support from non-Malay voters.
Port Dickson currently has 75,770 registered voters, with 43 per cent Malays, while 33 per cent are Chinese and 22 per cent are Indians. Other ethnic groups make up the remaining two per cent.
What Port Dickson voters care about
According to Ilham Centre, its survey found that 76 per cent of 800-odd Port Dickson voters polled were concerned about the rising cost of essential goods, 47 per cent about education and 32 per cent about health issues.
The survey was carried out from October 8 to October 11 through face-to-face interviews with 817 respondents in Port Dickson covering all segments in terms of ethnic group, gender, age group and locality and with a margin of error of 2.03 per cent.