Status quo in Sg Kandis by-election?

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SHAH ALAM (Aug 2): Tomorrow is the final day of the fortnight-long campaign for the Sungai Kandis by-election, and the focus is most certainly on whether PKR candidate Mohd Zawawi Ahmad Mughni can retain the seat for Pakatan Harapan.

Mohd Zawawi, a local from Kampung Jalan Kebun, is bent on winning the seat which has been held by the party for three terms.

The by-election is being held following the death of Assemblyman Mat Shuhaimi Shafiei from lymphoma cancer on July 2.

Mohd Zawawi, better known as Ustaz Nawawi and said to have the strong backing of party leaders, has used local issues such as drainage and waste disposal problems as well as development in the Sungai Kandis area in his campaign.

The 48-year-old principal of Maahad Tahfiz Al Fateh is optimistic of retaining PKR's hold on the seat, albeit being aware of the possibility of getting a reduced majority of votes compared with the 12,480 votes secured in the 14th General Election (GE14).

He is also confident of taking all the votes of the Indian community and getting at least half of the 7,573 votes won by PAS in GE14, although the Islamist party has expressed support for BN candidate Datuk Lokman Noor Adam on the grounds that the Pakatan Harapan government had "neglected" Islam and the Malays.

Lokman Noor is an 'outsider' candidate and, although this is the first time BN is campaigning as the Opposition at the federal level, he should not be taken for granted as he had been a member of PKR before.

The 45-year-old UMNO Supreme Council member, during his campaign, trained his guns on Pakatan Harapan's 100-day promises and spoke on the position of the Malays, Islam and the Rulers, aimed at attracting Malay support in the area.

A total of 71.34 per cent of the voters in the constituency are Malay.

Lokman Noor has also received strong support from the UMNO leadership, especially former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak who was frequently seen assisting in the campaign.

Mohd Zawawi also has his fair share of support from Pakatan Harapan leaders, especially PKR president Datuk Seri Wan Azizah Wan Ismail and her husband and de facto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim who returned from Turkey to campaign despite still being weak after undergoing surgery.

BN knows it will be difficult to achieve victory in this by-election. However, the coalition is determined to at least reduce PKR's majority.

PAS support for BN is also not seen to be able to tip the scales in the BN favour as, in the last GE, the combined number of votes received by BN, PAS and Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) could still not match that of Mat Shuhaimi.

In GE14, Mat Shuhaimi, who was the former political secretary of former Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamed Azmin Ali, garnered 23,998 votes, defeating BN candidate Datuk Kamaruzzaman Johari (11,518); PAS candidate Mohd Yusof Abdullah (7,573) and Parti Rakyat Malaysia (PRM) candidate Hanafiah Husin (76).

A question mark during this campaign period has been the absence of Independent candidate K. Murthy, which is not too surprising as even on nomination day on July 21, he refused to share his plans and manifesto with the media.

The 60-year-old government pensioner had merely mentioned that his decision to run as an Independent candidate was to "sow good deeds" for the people of Selangor.

Political analyst Che Hamdan Che Mohd Razali expects the status quo to remain.

He said this was based on current political developments, especially post-GE14, whereby PKR was able to maintain the seat based on the Selangor people's acceptance of the existing State government administration.

Furthermore, he said, PKR's move to field an experienced and local candidate seems to have the blessings and positive agreement from local and national leaders.

"Although there were some other potential candidates, the solidarity among the leadership has been able to unify and mobilise the election machinery,” he added.
For BN, Che Hamdan said, the by-election was seen to be more of an opportunity to spread the Malay-Islamic sentiment to strengthen its claims that Pakatan Harapan was undermining the position of Islam and the Malays in the country.

"In view of the fact that the majority of Sungai Kandis voters are Malays, it is the best platform for BN to field Lokman Noor, fighting on the issues relating to Islam and the Malays, seen to be the Achilles heel for Pakatan Harapan," he told Bernama.

The senior lecturer at the Faculty of Administrative Science and Policy Studies, Universiti Teknologi MARA in Raub, Pahang, said the Independent candidate was insignificant.

What's certain, however, is that the outcome of the by-election will not change Pakatan Harapan's position in the state legislative assembly where it has more than a two-thirds majority.

BN will definitely look for a win to 'test' its survival capability after having lost power at the federal level, as well as wanting to prove that UMNO was still relevant to the people, especially the Malays.

A total of 51,217 voters are set to make their choice on Saturday.