KUCHING: Despite a relatively slow start to the campaign period, this election is quickly shaping up to be remembered as a battle between proxies.
Tussles exist in both Barisan Nasional and Opposition parties, particularly at marginal seats.
“One could say the Barisan knows there is not much point to focus on urban areas, the focus is on marginal seats.
“You can tell by where the Barisan VIPs visit. The Prime Minister, his deputy and the Chief Minister are making very calculated moves, as is expected during any campaign period. Where they go is an indicator,” political analyst Assoc Prof Dr Jeniri Amir Jeniri said when contacted.
Over on the Opposition front, Assoc Prof Dr Faisal S. Hazis, who is with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, said the Opposition may have lost themselves two potential wins – Batu Kitang and Mulu.
“In the other 20 marginal seats, DAP and PKR managed to ensure straight fights,” said Faisal, who heads the Centre for Asia Studies at UKM.
Like Jeniri, Faisal cited proxy fights within Barisan as reasons why the Opposition could win the two seats had they not overlapped themselves, splitting the anti-establishment votes.
“Infighting between SUPP-UPP and SPDP-Teras could affect Barisan’s chances. In Pakan, for example, the ex-SPDP independent candidate could affect Barisan’s ability to retain the seat. The same can be said of Bekenu.”
Jeniri added Marudi to his list of seats to watch, as he believed the incumbent, who was not picked to re-contest, could sway Barisan supporters.
He said Adenan was trying to sell himself as a brand.
“He is on almost every Barisan billboard. It’s the everything-Adenan election in a way,” he added.
However, Jeniri said, Adenan’s popularity could not override grass-roots issues. He pointed out that Malaysia, and Sarawak within it, did not have a presidential political system.
An example of a proxy fight is at Batu Kawah, on the periphery of Kuching city centre. SUPP president Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian is facing ex-UPP branch leader Liu Thian Leong.
Both are vying for Barisan votes, going up against DAP’s incumbent Christina Chiew.
On Wednesday, Dr Sim cancelled his political rally, citing security concerns over close proximity to where Liu was also going to campaign on the same night.