KEMAMAN, Nov 19 — The Kemaman by-election, which is the country’s fifth by-election in just one year, is described as the battle of honour which will be used to assess the dynamics and political landscape of the country in the future.
The fielding of two ‘heavyweight’ candidates to contest the seat is an indication that the Kemaman by-election is not an ordinary one, but a contest that is taken seriously by the competing parties, including PAS, which is defending the seat despite winning comfortably in the 15th General Election with a 27,179 majority votes.
Barisan Nasional (BN), in an effort to win the seat, is fielding a former Chief of Defence Forces General (Rtd) Tan Sri Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor as its candidate, while PAS candidate is Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar.
Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) Malay Rulers Institution Chair fellow Mujibu Abd Muis said the selection of the two heavyweights for the by-election shows how serious both parties want to win, especially to boost the image of their respective party and to show that they are still relevant.
He said BN was willing to take the risk of fielding a direct candidate with a big name, while PAS fielded their number one leader in the state to maintain its status quo.
“This is certainly a serious fight. In the context of PAS, they need to defend the area, while on BN’s side, they also want to take back their traditional seat,” he said.
Mujibu said that in the previous four by-elections, in Pulai, Simpang Jeram, Pelangai and Jepak, all the seats were won by the incumbent party.
So, the results of this by-election, whoever wins, will serve as a new benchmark, he added.
While not dismissing the difficulty facing voters in making their choice between the two heavyweights, Mujibu said it would depend on the offers made by the competing parties and the credibility of either the two candidates to represent them in the Dewan Rakyat.
Meanwhile, a lecturer at the Perdana Centre, Razak Faculty of Technology and Informatics, Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, Associate Prof Dr Mazlan Ali did not rule out the possibility of BN being able to pull off a surprise because of its candidate of “unblemished reputation”.
“The former Armed Forces chief may be able to attract ‘something’ that may be able to have an impact on BN. So it is very likely that this political landscape can change even though the influence of Perikatan Nasional (PN) on the East Coast is quite strong,” he said.
According to him, apart from the heavyweight candidate factor, the Unity Government’s convincing track record can also be a factor in attracting support for BN candidates in the Kemaman by-election.
“We see a lot of government development now, including the investments brought in by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim. If Kemaman is represented by an elected representative from a party that is aligned with the federal government, possibly more investments can be brought into Kemaman.
“The economic spillover in Kemaman will also benefit Terengganu. Kemaman is already good economically and can be developed further,” he said.
The Election Commission (EC) has set November 28 as early voting for the Kemaman by-election, while the polling day is on December 2.
The by-election was called following the decision of the Terengganu Election Court on September 26 to annul the victory of PAS candidate Che Alias Hamid in GE15.
A total of 141,790 electors are eligible to vote in the by-election including 387 police personnel, nine military personnel and 12 Overseas Absentee Voters.
In GE15, Che Alias won the seat with a majority of 27,179 votes by securing 65,714 votes, defeating Terengganu UMNO Liaison chairman Datuk Seri Ahmad Said who obtained 38,535 votes in the four-cornered fight.
Two other candidates were Hasuni Sudin of Pakatan Harapan who garnered 8,340 votes and Rosli Ab Ghani of Parti Pejuang Tanah Air who got 506 votes. — Bernama