Analyst sees kingmaker role for PSM in Semenyih

The by-election for the state seat of Semenyih will be held on March 2. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: A political analyst foresees a tight race between Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Barisan Nasional (BN) in the Semenyih by-election, with Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM) playing the role of kingmaker if it enters the fray.

Speaking to FMT, Azmi Hassan of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia said BN might do better than it did in last May’s general election since PAS is expected to stay out of the contest.

The by-election, set for March 2, follows the death of Bakhtiar Mohd Noor, who won the seat for PPBM in the 14th general election (GE14). He polled 23,428 votes against BN’s 14,464, PAS’ 6,966 and PSM’s 1,293.

PSM central committee member S Arutchelvan recently told FMT he might contest in the by-election.

Azmi said it would be an uphill battle for PSM since most voters would not see it as an alternative to either PH or BN.

“But with the 1,000-plus votes it garnered in GE14, it can play the role of kingmaker,” he added.

He said he would like to see PSM giving PH “a run for its money”.

He also said, without elaborating, that PPBM was having “internal problems” and this would increase BN’s chances of winning, assuming PH would field a PPBM candidate.

Another analyst, Kamarul Zaman Yusoff, predicted that PSM would lose its deposit if it entered the contest.

He acknowledged that the party’s leaders were known as persons of integrity, but he said the party itself lacked appeal among voters.

Moreover, he added, voters had become comfortable with a two-party system.

He said PSM should consider merging with a PH party and proposed that it choose PKR.

“After all, PSM only managed to make an entry into Parliament and a state assembly when its candidates contested on the PKR ticket,” he said, referring to Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj’s 2008 and 2013 victories in Sungai Siput and Mohd Nasir Hashim’s 2008 win in Kota Damansara.

Oh Ei Sun of the Singapore Institute of International Affairs recommended that PSM “humble and moderate” itself and work with PH like it used to.

He said a narrow win for BN in Semenyih was likely.

“PAS is not out of the picture at Semenyih,” he said. “It is just pitching its support behind the Umno candidate, thus potentially creating a somewhat 50-50 vote count scenario.

“PSM tossing its hat into the ring will dilute the PH votes, making it more likely for Umno to squeeze out a narrow win.”

Awang Azman Pawi of Universiti Malaya also predicted defeat for PSM, saying voters there were more familiar with the conservative agenda and less exposed to PSM’s idealism.

“The Semenyih by-election is expected to be focused on the race between PH and BN,” he said. “They both have large numbers of supporters.”