Good move by Umno to renominate Tok Mat in Rantau, say analysts

Rantau state assemblyman Mohamad Hassan has been nominated by Umno to defend his seat in the by-election ordered by the courts yesterday.

PETALING JAYA: Political analysts believe Umno made the right move in renominating former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar Mohamad Hassan to contest in the Rantau by-election as he is known to the people and popular within the state.

Independent political analyst Kamarul Zaman Yusoff and Universiti Malaya’s Awang Azman Awang Pawi said fielding Mohamad, also known as Tok Mat, would ensure a tough fight for his opponents.

“He is the former menteri besar, Umno deputy president and incumbent,” Kamarul told FMT. “Most of all, he has no known issues.”

He added that Mohamad was known for his personality and seen as close to the people in his constituency.

Awang Azman agreed that Mohamad was the best candidate for Umno given his popularity among the people.

However, he cautioned that victory was not guaranteed as the state is presently under Pakatan Harapan (PH) rule. He also noted that PKR leader Anwar Ibrahim was recently elected as Port Dickson MP.

“It will be tough, as Anwar, who is known as the prime minister-in-waiting, will definitely help the candidate from his party win the election.

“What more, PH won most of the seats in the state, which might work in its favour.”

He also highlighted issues such as the 1MDB scandal which have been dogging Umno since PH came to federal power.

The Rantau by-election was ordered by the Election Court yesterday after judge Azimah Omar allowed the petition by PKR’s Dr Streram Sinnasamy to nullify the results of the state seat.

Azimah said Mohamad had not been duly elected, and that there would have been a contest for the seat if Streram had been allowed to file his nomination papers on April 28.

Merdeka Center executive director Ibrahim Suffian said Umno’s choice of Mohamad as its candidate for the by-election was expected.

Given Mohamad’s position as Umno deputy president, he said, it was likely a matter of honour for the party to field him as its candidate.

However, Kamarul warned PKR against fielding Streram, saying it would be better to put in place a candidate with national stature even if this meant nominating an individual who was not from the state.

“PKR will have a higher chance of winning the seat if it places the right candidate,” he told FMT.

This would be an opportunity for PKR to strengthen its position in Negeri Sembilan, he added.

“Out of 36 state seats in Negeri Sembilan, 11 belong to DAP, six to PKR and three to Amanah.

“If the PKR candidate wins this seat, PKR’s seats will increase to seven.”

Awang Azman agreed that there were many other candidates whom PKR could consider instead of Streram.

“The party does not necessarily have to put him as its candidate.”