PETALING JAYA: Amanah needs its president Mohamad Sabu, popularly known as Mat Sabu, to be in Parliament, otherwise the party would be like a headless chicken, a party insider said today in defence of Amanah’s decision to field him in Kota Raja, Selangor.
With other prominent Pakatan Harapan leaders directly taking on Barisan Nasional personalities, there have been questions raised why Mat Sabu was not similarly taking the fight to BN.
However a party insider, speaking to FMT, pointed out that Mat Sabu had suffered two defeats in Malay-majority areas, despite a wave of public support for the opposition coalition, then Pakatan Rakyat.
Kota Raja was considered a safe seat as Malay voters form close to 50% of the electorate.
“He does not do well in seats which have a large Malay-majority and he lost both in 2008 and 2013 even when Pakatan Rakyat had done fairly well,” the party insider told FMT.
“There are a significant number of Malays in Kota Raja as well but the seat is semi-urban and it’s likely that the non-Malays would vote for Mat Sabu because he’s fighting in the Pakatan Harapan coalition,” the source said.
In 2008 Barisan Nasional’s Razali Ismail defeated Mat Sabu by a majority of only 628 votes in Kuala Terengganu, whose electorate then comprised 88% Malay voters. In 2013, the seat was won by Raja Kamarul Bahrin Shah of PAS. He has since joined Amanah.
In 2013, Mat Sabu contested in Pendang, Kedah, but lost by 2,638 votes to BN’s Othman Abdul. The seat also has 88% Malay voters and has swung between PAS and BN since 1986.
Kota Raja, created in 2004, maintained close to a 50% Malay-majority. It was first won by BN, then by PAS in 2008 and 2013 with more than 20,000-vote majorities.
Amanah deputy president Salahuddin Ayub told FMT that many factors were taken into consideration when choosing a prospective election candidate.
“Winnability is one of them. In Mat Sabu’s case, he’s a national figure so he can contest anywhere he wants.
“I think the most important thing is not whether he wins or loses but whether the constituents want him there and we think he’s well-accepted in Kota Raja.
“You have to remember Amanah was not given many seats. We only had 27 so we had to also look at where our president would be best suited.”
FMT’s attempts to contact Mat Sabu for comment have failed.