KUALA LUMPUR: PAS and the Barisan Nasional appear to be evenly matched in Pengkalan Kubor, based on past election results. This makes it all the harder to predict the outcome of today’s polling for the Kelantan state seat.
In 13 previous general elections and one by-election in 1972, each party has won six times.
The only instances when neither PAS nor the Barisan took the seat were in the 1978 general election, when PAS lost to its splinter party Berjasa, and in 1990 when Umno offshoot Semangat 46 won.
The PKR, the only other party that had tried to wrest the seat, failed in both its bids in the 2008 and 2013 general elections.
Ironically, in one of the previous elections, PAS won on a Barisan ticket.
This was in 1974, when the party was a founding member of the Barisan coalition that replaced the tripartite Alliance of Umno, MCA and MIC.
Interestingly, the winning Berjasa candidate in 1978, Tahir Abdul Aziz, had contested and lost as an independent in the 1974 general election. He retained the seat on a Barisan ticket in 1982.
The constituency had been renamed several times before it became Pengkalan Kubor in 1995. It was previously known as Tumpat Barat (1959-1969), Simpangan (1974-1982) and Geting (1986-1990).
From the first general election in 1959, the constituency has seen a three-fold increase in the number of voters, from 7,919 to the 24,039 voters who are eligible to cast their ballots today.
As past results showed, PAS was strong in the constituency in the first two decades after Merdeka before Umno, the main Barisan component, began to gain ground from the 1980s.
PAS won the seat in the first three general elections in 1959, 1964 and 1969.
It also retained the seat in the 1972 by-election, following the death of assemblyman Wan Abdullah Wan Sulaiman.
It was in that by-election that the party unveiled its now famous “full moon” symbol – a white circle against a green backdrop.
Before that, the emblem depicted a crescent moon and a five-pointed star, also against a green background.
The last time that PAS won the seat was in the 1999 general election.
Prior to this, Barisan had won in 1982 and 1986, when the constituency was known by its earlier names, and in 1995 when it became Pengkalan Kubor.
After losing it to PAS in 1999, the Barisan regained the seat in 2004 and retained it in the 2008 and 2013 general elections.
Assoc Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian, from Universiti Sains Malaysia, said the Pengkalan Kubor by-election provided an interesting test of strength for PAS, as it was taking place amid a rift in the Pakatan Rakyat over the Selangor mentri besar issue.
“PAS is going all out to prove that it is not affected by the current spat in Pakatan.
“For Umno, a win in Pengkalan Kubor will show that it is still strong after the last general election,” he said.
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