Malaysia: Umno needs PAS, Malay fence-sitters to win Semenyih

  • UMNO will have to rely on PAS, a party it once called “kampung party” if it wants to beat Bersatu to win the Semenyih by-election, said Institut Darul Ehsan (IDE) research manager Khairul Ariffin.
  • Pakatan Harapan was only able to break Barisan Nasional’s winning streak during 2018’s elections because the anti-BN sentiments were overwhelming, he added.
  • “Although Pakatan won by 8,964 votes, it only had 50.76% of the popular vote in Semenyih. So, BN’s chance here, while slim, is better than the Sg Kandis by-election.”
  • With PAS joining hands with Umno, BN stands a good chance to wrest back the seat, said Khairul. “But to do that, it has to make sure it can hold on to its share of votes and convert PAS’ votes.”
  • “Less than 40% of PAS votes went to Umno in Sg Kandis and only 50% in Cameron Highlands, It will be interesting whether PAS can convince its grassroots to vote for their former enemies.”
  • Khairul said PAS support varied according to the different states and around half of those polled in Selangor did not back the Umno-PAS cooperation.
  • Universiti Utara Malaysia’s Dr Kamarul Zaman Yusoff also said BN needs to grab all the PAS votes to stand a chance in Semenyih.
  • He added that Emboldened by its success in Cameron Highlands, Umno is likely to turn up the racial and religious rhetoric again in the 70% Malay majority Semenyih.
  • However, what makes Semenyih different is the emergence of two other issues – former Umno president Najib Razak’s corruption trial and backlash PAS has to face after president Abdul Hadi Awang withdrew his defamation suit against Sarawak Report – against BN and PAS.
  • As for PH, the danger is if PSM and former BN component Gerakan also contest in Semenyih. Kg Sungai Jai resident and army veteran Zainuddin Mohd laughed off the suggestion that race and religion will work in Semenyih.
  • While Zainuddin acknowledged PH’s shortcomings, the veteran said the new government should be given more time to turn things around.

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