JOHOR BAHRU: Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman Ahmad Zahid Hamidi is confident that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) candidate, who is representing the PH-BN alliance, can easily win the Pulai parliamentary by-election on Sept 9.
Zahid, who is deputy prime minister, said this is because the former MP for Pulai, the late Salahuddin Ayub, enjoyed good ties with Umno members in the constituency and the Pulai Umno division was also working well with PH grassroots.
“For Pulai, I am very confident (of victory) because Pulai Umno division chief Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed has good relations with our PH friends although just nine months ago we were rivals.
“But now, he has lined up several programmes to unite the two election machineries.
“Salahuddin also frequently interacted with Umno members, so Pulai will be quite easy,” he told reporters after the end of nominations for the by-election at Dewan Jubli Intan Sultan Ibrahim here today.
In the 15th general election, Salahuddin retained the seat on the PH ticket, and the combined votes received by PH and BN then exceeded 94,000, while the Perikatan Nasional (PN) candidate obtained only about 20,000 votes.
Zahid said the unity government component parties had now reached their best level of cooperation and this was evident during the nomination process for the Pulai parliamentary and Simpang Jeram state by-elections this morning.
“However, we have to admit that the grassroots need a bit of time (to adjust). During the campaign period, we hope to have a strong unity government election machinery to obtain votes,” he said.
Asked to comment on Kedah menteri besar Sanusi Nor’s claim that the Pulai and Simpang Jeram by-elections would mark the burial of Umno, Zahid, who is Umno president, said he would not respond to such provocations.
Both the Pulai and Simpang Jeram by-elections will see three-cornered fights involving PH, PN and independent candidates.
For the Pulai seat, PH candidate Suhaizan Kaiat, who is former Johor state assembly speaker, will face PN’s Zulkifli Jaafar and independent candidate Samsudin Fauzi, who is using the key symbol.
The two seats fell vacant following the death of Salahuddin on July 23.
The Election Commission has set Sept 5 for early voting and Sept 9 for polling for both by-elections.