The first by-election after GE14, in Selangor next month, will act as a barometer of #Malaysiabaru. Whether the promise of reform holds sway with the voters.
For it offers electoral proof, which is better to weigh the present administration than rely on online banter.
Before that, I would extend my commiserations to the family of the late assemblymen Mat Shuhaimi Shafiei, a three time winner, and former chief of staff for ex-mentri besar Azmin Ali. A huge figure in Keadilan Selangor, and always cooperative with us in KUASA, his loss is still being felt by so many in the state.
While pundits may claim it may be a foregone conclusion since the parliamentary seat (Kota Raja) as a whole is a overwhelmingly Pakatan, Sentosa and Kota Kemuning the other state seats under the coalition, the election still matters.
Because when Pakatan grabbed 51 seats in Selangor, reminiscent of the heights last scaled by Umno in 2004, there is only one way to go thereafter, down. But by how much? Not enough to lose the seat, but perhaps enough to show that not every Malaysian is enthusiastic about the events of the last two months — three months by the time polling is done.
So there is plenty to observe from the election.
Primary question is if Umno has the capacity or appetite to contest the by-election.
Noh Omar has a seat in the party supreme council, but with questions hanging ahead of next week’s parliament sitting on who will be the leader of opposition in Dewan Rakyat, would he as the state chief or any other want to be spanked again, to underline the decimation of support for the party?
Umno is not used to appear frail and toothless.
Speculations are abound about whether PAS and Umno will work together? In May polls, PAS’ Mohd Yusof Abdullah drew 7573 votes, paltry to the late Shuhaimi with 23,998, but when Mohd Yusof’s total is added to second place Umno Kamaruzzaman Johari’s 11,518, they have more than 19k votes, which means PKR only has a four thousand plus vote majority.
So if the parties go strategic, it will be a close election, in theory, if the previous vote counts hold steady.
However, there will be many in Umno who will be uneasy with any official alliances with PAS. Like defeated candidate for the presidency, Khairy Jamaluddin. For he is with the factions in the party, in the aftermath of the general election, feel the party should become more inclusive rather than locking itself down harder with race/religious sentiments. A dalliance with PAS most certainly veers to the right.
Any romanticism with PAS may push further Umno backbenchers away from the party, because in the present, laissez faire attitude dominates retention, departure and disappearances of leaders.
The party has to be careful to not misread the will of the members.
Umno may be tempted to just give the election a pass, but that would be a white flag, and perhaps open the door to PAS being the real number two in the perceived Malay politics behind Pakatan’s joint trio of PKR, Pribumi and Amanah.
It will be also a mini-referendum of the new Selangor leadership. Does Selangor accept the Johor born Amiruddin Shari?
And finally, there is the argument, Malays unwittingly raised Pakatan to government by splitting their vote evenly with the new government, Umno and PAS. Because the overwhelming support from the non-Malays to Pakatan meant domination inside Semenanjung for Pakatan.
And therefore regret the overreach of their vote. How far that sentiment rings true may be evidenced in Sungai Kandis, which has a 72 percent Malay vote base.
And also the type of voters. Located in the urban Selangor pocket of Shah Alam/Klang, they are the more discerning sort.
Of course, in Malaysia, there is the campaigning. Who is where, and takes the lead or offers more photo-ops, suggests the real power or extent of support available.
Will Mahathir drop by to shore up, support for the PKR. Will Pribumi want to flex is muscle and show to PKR that without them, the Keadilan emblem has less appeal, and therefore dispell a bit the baiting by PKR supporters about their 50 seats in parliament.
Meanwhile, how active will the defeated in the Umno election be at the by-election, if Umno decides to contest? Would they express their opposition to any PAS presence inside their camp?
So, it is intriguing, this proposition. But then again, everything is intriguing in #MalaysiaBaru.