Analysts split over PPBM’s chances in Semenyih

Today is the nomination for the Semenyih state seat by-election following the death of PPBM’s Bakhtiar Mohd Nor on Jan 11.

PETALING JAYA: Two prominent political activists are divided over whether the recent controversies surrounding PPBM will affect the party’s prospects in the upcoming Semenyih state by-election.

This follows the acceptance of seven former Umno MPs into PPBM on Monday on top of the ongoing furore over the educational qualifications of a deputy minister and the party secretary-general.

Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said the controversies would not hurt PPBM, although it was unlikely to maintain the same majority.

“PPBM will be lucky if it keeps the same majority as before. Urban and semi-urban voters have grown dissatisfied and impatient these days.

“Marzuki’s unrecognised degree won’t hurt much as Umno is not immune to such ‘degree’ holders,” he said, referring to Deputy Foreign Minister Marzuki Yahya.

He also doubted that the crossover of the seven MPs would enhance PPBM’s chances in Semenyih.

Political geo-strategist Azmi Hassan from Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, on the other hand, said Semenyih would be an uphill task for PPBM.

He said the perception that PPBM was incapable of protecting Malay rights could be key.

“There exists internal bickering in PH regarding the seven ex-Umno MPs, and I would not be surprised if PH voters boycotted the Semenyih by-election as a show of protest to PPBM,” he said, noting the Umno-PAS alliance as well.

The Semenyih state seat fell vacant following the death of PPBM’s Bakhtiar Mohd Nor on Jan 11.

Bakhtiar, who got 23,428 votes, defeated three other candidates from Umno, PAS and PSM, with a majority of 8,964 votes in the 14th general election (GE14).

So far, PSM, Umno, PPBM and an independent candidate have expressed their intention to throw their hat into the ring. PAS is staying out and will support the opposition candidate.

Earlier this week, PPBM chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad announced the acceptance of seven former Umno members into his party.

They were MPs Shabudin Yahaya (Tasek Gelugor), Hamzah Zainuddin (Larut), Ikmal Hisham Abdul Aziz (Tanah Merah), Mohamad Fasiah Mohd Fakeh (Sabak Bernam), Rosol Wahid (Hulu Terengganu), Abdul Latiff Ahmad (Mersing) and Mas Ermieyati Samsudin (Tanah Merah).

Universiti Malaya’s Awang Azman Awang Pawi said PH was still seen by both the Malays and non-Malays as underperforming. The people were also angry as GE14 promises had yet to be fulfilled, he said.

Noting that Malays make up 68% of the electorate in Semenyih, he said PH could lose big if a large number of them turned out to vote.