PETALING JAYA: Political observers have doubts about former Selangor Umno chief Noh Omar’s ability to significantly contribute to Perikatan Nasional in the upcoming Selangor state election.
Political analyst Lau Zhe Wei said any politician would have a strong chance of winning under PN if the voters already had their hearts set on the former ruling coalition.
“Malay voters still prefer to vote based on party lines, not so much based on individuals,” said Lau, a political science lecturer at the International Islamic University of Malaysia.
Lau said if Noh wins, it would be because voters support PN, and not necessarily Noh himself, who was a six-term MP for Tanjong Karang.
He said this is evident from the dismal performance of many former Umno leaders, most notably Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who could not measure up at the polls after leaving their parties.
Noh, who had been with Umno for 30 years, was dropped as a Barisan Nasional candidate to make way for Tanjong Karang Wanita Umno chief Habibah Yusof in November’s general election. Habibah lost to PN’s Zulkafperi Hanapi.
Noh was later sacked from Umno for breaching party discipline.
On Sunday, Berita Harian reported that Noh had confirmed he would contest a Selangor state seat on a PN ticket. However, he did not state which party he would represent.
Another political analyst, Izani Zain, believed that Noh’s decision to contest under PN was largely driven by his frustration with Umno.
Although his loyal supporters and PN voters will cast their ballots for him, Noh was considered “irrelevant” in Selangor politics, said Izani, who is with Universiti Putra Malaysia.
“Even when he led Selangor Umno, he failed to deliver victory in the state for Umno,” he said, adding that these were factors that would linger on the voters’ minds.
Kartini Aboo Talib of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia suggested that Noh’s move to PN was to prove that Umno had made a mistake of not fielding him in Tanjong Karang in November.
“He is well known among Tanjong Karang folks, so chances of him winning there are high,” she said, adding that the residents would not forget his contribution to developing the constituency and turning Tanjong Karang into a domestic tourism destination.
However, she said it would be a tall order if PN were relying on Noh to help snatch Selangor from Pakatan Harapan.
“Outside Tanjong Karang, Noh is not influential enough to help swing votes to PN,” she said.