PETALING JAYA: PKR will find Permatang Pauh, legacy seat to the Anwar Ibrahim family, a lot tougher to defend this time without PAS.
PKR is in a bind, with the parliamentary seat no longer a sure-win for the first time since 2004.
PAS lent PKR a big hand by helping it draw the Malay voter base.
Penang PAS secretary Izuree Ibrahim said his party was planning to contest Permatang Pauh and the state seats of Permatang Pasir, Penanti and Seberang Jaya.
“We are not going to be over-confident but we have good machinery and winning is possible,” said Izuree.
PAS is the incumbent in Permatang Pasir which it has a good chance of retaining, but it could be a struggle for PKR to hold on to Permatang Pauh, Penanti and Seberang Jaya without the support of PAS.
Izuree said PAS supporters helped to carry PKR through one election after another.
“They won because of our support, and may lose without our support,” he said.
In 2013, PAS’ Datuk Salleh Man won Permatang Pasir with a majority of 6,826 votes, with PKR’s Dr Norlela Ariffin winning Penanti by 2,339 votes and Dr Afif Bahardin in Seberang Jaya by 2,459 votes.
Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim won Permatang Pauh by more than 11,000 votes in 2013.
Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail retained the seat by 8,841 votes in the 2015 by-election after her husband’s sodomy conviction.
Three-cornered fights will be the name of the game in these Malay-majority seats.
PAS may not be able to win Permatang Pauh, Penanti and Seberang Jaya on its own but it could damage PKR’s chances and this will benefit Barisan Nasional.
Permatang Pauh has a complicated history but it has revolved around Anwar and Dr Wan Azizah since 1982 when he first won the seat as a rising star in Umno.
Speculation that Nurul Izzah Anwar would replace her mother in Permatang Pauh has cooled off, with sources suggesting that she should consider a safer seat in Selangor.
Nurul Izzah, who is PKR vice-president and Lembah Pantai MP, is expected to make way for her party’s communications director Fahmi Fazil in Lembah Pantai.
However, some PKR leaders in Penang believe Nurul Izzah has the clout to retain Permatang Pauh and can help swing voter sentiment in Penanti and Seberang Jaya.