July 28, 2023
PETALING JAYA – Eyes will be on how the pendulum swings in the coming state polls now that battlelines between the Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional coalition and Perikatan Nasional are becoming clearer, say analysts.
Political scientist Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said the state polls would be closely watched, particularly in Selangor and Penang because this was the first time that the Pakatan and Barisan were working together against a formidable opposition coalition.
“Selangor is seen a super majority state for Pakatan and they would want to retain this under the new coalition with Barisan.
“Perikatan, on the other hand, wants to test it as battle ground for the 34 Malay majority seats to see if they can make inroads,” he said when he contacted on Thursday (July 27).
Sivamurugan, of Universiti Sains Malaysia, cited the battle in Hulu Klang, between former Selangor Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Azmin against PKR’s Juwairiya Zulkifli and in Permatang, between daughter of former Umno Selangor chief Tan Sri Nor Omar, Nurul Syazwani Noh against PKR’s Mohd Yahya Mat, as those to be keenly watched.
“The results will show if there was a swing back from Pakatan to Perikatan.
“It will show if voters are happy with the ruling coalition’s performance over the past eight months or whether they voted based on sentiments,” he added.
In Penang, Sivamurugan said the surprise nomination of Gerakan president Datuk Dominic Lau for the Malay majority Bayan Lepas seat might be an attempt by Perikatan to dispel the view that was a Malay centric coalition.
Lau would be going against Amanah’s incumbent Azrul Mahathir Aziz in the seat which was traditionally contested by PAS.
Universiti Malaya’s political analyst Assoc Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said Perikatan’s last minute decision to field Lau in Bayan Baru could backfire.
“Penang is quite hard for Perikatan to take over and now the Malay majority seats are being contested by non-Malays.
“The strategy might backfire them,” he said, adding that Gerakan would have to rely on Pas for Malay support.
He added that the battle in Gombak Setia would be a turning point for Hilman Idham who won the seat under PKR in 2018 but defected to Bersatu in 2020.
“This time, Hilman will be defending his seat and it will be seen if he is still relevant or not to the voters by contesting under Perikatan,” he said.
Also looking to test her relevancy in the state polls, he said, was Bersatu Srikandi chief Datuk Seri Rina Harun who lost her Sepang parliamentary seat in the general election.
“We see the return of Rina in the contest for state seat in Shah Alam and it will be worth noting how she can convince the voters there,” he added.
Election expert Dr G Manimaran also said that Azmin was playing it safe by standing in Hulu Klang in an attempt to a political comeback.
“Many thought that he would leave the political scene after his losing his Gombak parliamentary seat.
“He is taking a safe approach by contesting in his hometown and Perikatan will use him as their ‘poster boy’ during the polls in Selangor,” he said.
He said the contest between Azmin and Juwairiya would be a hotly contested affair.