PETALING JAYA: The impending Permatang Pauh parliamentary constituency by-election in Penang throws a big question mark on former MPs Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and wife Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Ismail – are the constituents still loyal to them or their loyalty has an expiry date.
The voters in Permatang Pauh have been loyal to Anwar and his wife since 1982 but changes in the political landscape and minds along the years may have some adverse impact on Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) performance this time around.
Anwar and the party’s credibility have been going on a decline since the failed Kajang Move last year and PAS’ Hudud agenda have somewhat shift the voters’ trust towards him and the party.
Although PKR may retain the seat in the coming by-election, observers said the majority would be very much reduced.
“It is still an uphill task to move the voters’ loyalty from Anwar and family but one thing for sure, the loyalty towards him is eroding by the day.
“However, it is still not enough for Barisan Nasional (BN) to unseat him the by-election given the fact that BN has no credible candidate that can match Anwar’s charisma,” said a PKR member who is close to the party headquarters.
Anwar had been the MP for the constituency of 59,000-odd majority Malay voters since 1982 until 1999 when he passed the ‘baton’ to his wife Wan Azizah when he was imprisoned for abuse of power.
That was the year BN lost the seat when his wife stood as candidate, a party formed by the reformasi group that was backing Anwar against the imprisonment.
He took back the seat upon his release in 2008 where he swept into victory again in a by-election.
Next Wednesday the Election Commission (EC) will meet to fix the date for a by-election since Anwar’s appeal for pardon from the Pardon’s Board was rejected on March 16.
BN will field a candidate and going as an underdog considering that the constituents or voters had been loyal to Anwar all along since 1982.
However, with the internal political development within PKR where Anwar’s hold is slowly slipping away since early last year when Anwar created the Kajang Move to place his wife as Selangor Menteri Besar and failed, doubts are in air on whether the Permatang Pauh constituents will still vote for whoever is going to be fielded by PKR.
Wan Azizah had said she might stand again if the party could not get any suitable candidates which literally mean she expected the constituents to still be loyal to her and her husband.
Anwar’s daughter Nurul Nuha’s name has been bandied around as the likely candidate but the gamble is too risky as not only she is a newcomer who has never been involved in politics, the voters may not like the politic of heritage or nepotism.
They had allowed Anwar to put his wife as replacement in 1999 and then back to him in 2008 and now, if it is his daughter to replace him, the loyalty may just diminished as this may be construed as building his own kingdom.
Permatang Pauh is a small town in Seberang Perai which area spuns about 100-sq km where most parts are still considered as rural.
It has two higher learning institutions which are Universiti Teknologi Mara and a polytechnic.
Industrial development is at a minimal where the young go to Butterworth and Penang island to work leaving the constituent with the older generation.
Pakatan Rakyat (PR) partners support may not be as solid as before given that PAS and DAP are at logger-heads and PAS leadership has been distancing themselves from Anwar since the Kajang Move.
The DAP may try to help as much as it could but Chinese votes do not carry much weight as Chinese voters comprised just 24 percent with Malays voters comprising 70 percent of the total 50,000-odd voters.
Based on all considerations, loyalty of the Malay voters towards Anwar and wife plays a very important role and if their loyalty have expiry date, then PKR may face a rough ride although the party may still emerge as winner but with lower majority.-MYNEWSHUB.CC