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Friday March 22, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday April 24, 2013 MYT 1:43:45 PM
by sarban singh
Barisan confident it can regain lost ground as Opposition makes inroads into the state.
THE contest in Negri Sembilan this time around will be an intriguing one with both sides harbouring high hopes.
The last election, too, was a close fight with Pakatan Rakyat taking three of the eight parliamentary seats and 15 of the 36 state seats.
However, most observers feel that chances of an Opposition victory are remote and Barisan Nasional will do marginally better this time around.
Umno is confident of wresting the state seats of Sikamat and Ampangan from PKR and Paroi from PAS, which it lost in 2008 due to infighting and sabotage after the incumbents were dropped.
However, the losses were narrow, making Barisan confident it can regain lost ground. With Umno deciding that the respective divisions nationwide will choose their candidates rather than the state liaison chiefs, the element of sabotage will certainly be minimised.
Also, Pakatan Rakyat is expected to face an uphill task in making inroads into the Malay heartland. The parliamentary constituencies of Jelebu, Jempol, Rembau, Tampin and Kuala Pilah are Barisan strongholds and the coalition should be able to retain these seats.
Barisan's biggest threat is the infighting among members of its component parties. Even Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan has admitted that this could scupper its hopes of a comfortable win.
Both the MCA and MIC are divided while Gerakan is practically inactive after having lost its two state seats in 2008.
The general consensus, however, is that Barisan still holds the upper hand. The worst-case scenario is that the coalition may not be able to secure a two-thirds majority.
Barisan should be able to wrest Seremban from the Opposition if it fields a winnable candidate. Its chances are better if it takes the Sikamat and Ampangan state seats, as expected, and improves its standing in the four other state seats in the constituency.
There is also talk of horse trading by the component parties in some constituencies.
For Teluk Kemang, there is talk that Umno wants former Mentri Besar Tan Sri Isa Samad to contest. However, this has traditionally been an MIC seat so Umno is expected to give Jempol to MIC.
If that doesn't happen, MIC secretary-general Datuk S. Murugessan or party information chief Datuk V.S. Mogan is likely to contest in this parliamentary constituency. However, supporters of former two-term MP Datuk S. Sothinathan wants him back and they have even made this known to Barisan chief Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak during the latter's recent visit to the constituency.
As for the other parliamentary seats, the Opposition is expected to retain Rasah while Barisan should be able to defend the others.
State Opposition chief Anthony Loke has openly stated that he will be contesting in Chennah, the only seat held by MCA in the state. There is talk that MCA has also nominated another candidate for the seat. If this happens, it could be detrimental to MCA's chances.
However, MCA should be able to make inroads in Rahang, Temiang and Chuah where its coordinators have been doing a good job. MCA's Julia Wong (Rahang) and Jason Lee (Temiang) have been providing good service to the people there.
Teluk Kemang MCA division head Yit Lee Kok is likely to contest in Chuah. Being a local boy, he should be able to give his opponent a better fight this time around.
A new mentri besar?
There is speculation that Mohamad, who is serving his second term, may contest a parliamentary seat this time.
The seat he is being associated with is Rembau, where he heads the Umno division. But there is talk that he has received the Prime Minister's blessings to serve another term and to see through the completion of some of the investment projects he helped bring in.
If Mohamad does go national, then the MB's job could go to Tampin MP and Works Minister Datuk Seri Shaziman Abu Mansor, senior exco man Datuk Ismail Lasim or a new face altogether.
So far, none of the serving Barisan representatives has indicated a desire to step down. In fact, MCA head Datuk Dr Yeow Chai Tiam is keen on contesting the Seremban parliamentary seat while MIC chief Datuk T. Rajagopalu may contest in Jeram Padang if incumbent Mogan is moved.
There is also talk that the MIC and MCA may swap the Jeram Padang and Repah state seats to have a better chance of winning both.
Another person to look out for is Umno Youth chief Khairy Jamaluddin. Although he had previously voiced his desire not to defend Rembau, he may be fielded again.
Also, many feel that Jelebu MP Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim who was MB for a term in 1978, may also not contest in 2013.
For more election stories, please visit The Star's GE13 site
GE13: Seremban set for greater growth
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Nation, News, Politics, negri sembilan roundup, GE13, general election
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