BN has a 50-50 chance of wresting back the state and so has Pakatan. Both rivals are plagued with internal problems.
While the Pakatan Rakyat state government led by PAS is bogged down with many issues, the BN is also facing internal strife which threatens to disrupt its preparation for the coming general election.
BN, particularly Umno, is working hard to regain “lost ground” and is said to be making some progress despite the factional conflict.
However, observers said the Umno camp was thrown into disarray when the National Feedlot Corporation (NFCorp) scandal burst onto the scene. The new young voters especially were disgusted with the revelations of the alleged abuse of funds meant for the cattle-breeding project.
The scandal which put Umno Wanita chief Shahrizat Abdul Jalil under the spotlight is considered “too much” for the young voters whose thinking is in line with the “accepted universal practices”.
“These voters, graduates or not, have got a different perception in politics. They are no longer attracted to race-based politics or local-based issues as they have been exposed to universal political ideas and philosophies.
“Their thoughts and political philosophies are more towards universally accepted practices – clean and efficient government with clean leaders.
“This is what the BN should be focusing on in trying to gain their trust and confidence,” said Kedah political activist Ramli Idrus.
A diehard Umno member, Ramli said BN leaders, especially those in the Umno camp, have always been briefed by state and local leaders that “the ground looks good, and that more voters are coming back to us”.
“I wonder where and how they got such assumptions. So naturally the national leaders who came down to the state were happy with such glowing reports… nice and beautiful pictures of the state were painted in front of the faces of the national leaders.
“I don’t think the reality is as beautiful as what they (local leaders) had reported,” he said.
Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin had said last week during a visit to Alor Star that BN saw a good chance of taking back Kedah as the voters were inclined to be on the BN side.
His comments came after a briefing by Kedah BN leaders on the situation in the state.
Ramli said the BN leaders should move in step with the young voters in order to gain their confidence and not to “impose their old ideas on the them as they are rebellious in many ways”.
“With wider exposure to the new political trends, these young people think freely and are willing to take risks.
“BN leaders, especially Umno leaders, must know this and must not make assumptions based on nice and beautiful reports.
“Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak is aware of this new trend and that’s why he goes on cyber space– to be together with the new young voters, to talk their language and think their way.
“But still, actions must follow words – the new young voters want clean governance, free of corruption and abuse of power… they want leaders who are willing to be held accountable for their actions,” he said.
Meanwhile, Kedah Pakatan is fighting an uphill battle to maintain its grip on the state as local issues keep cropping up. The latest damaging one is allegations of kickbacks involving the state government.
Ramli predicted that both BN and Pakatan have an even chance of making a good showing in the coming general election – the BN may wrest back Kedah or Pakatan may retain its hold, given that both sides are afflicted with serious problems that could lead to erosion of confidence.
“Another thing is that several seats – more than eight – were won by BN or Pakatan by a slim majority of 300 votes and below.
“These seats would be the target of BN as well as Pakatan. At present, BN has only 14 out of 36 state seats.
“Given such a background, the state can fall either way,” he said.