PETALING JAYA: Barisan Nasional’s top two leaders did a tag team to bring the coalition’s message to Kedah which political analysts see as a “danger state” on polling day.
Barisan chairman Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak took on Langkawi – where his political rival Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is contesting – while his deputy Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi was in the heartland of Kedah.
Najib had two events on the legendary island – a walkabout at Telaga Walk in Pantai Chenang and an informal session with tourism industry players.
This was his second tour of duty to Langkawi in three weeks and his visit was seen as a warning to Dr Mahathir that the island is Barisan’s to keep.
Dr Ahmad Zahid had a packed programme – breakfast with the people in Sik; ground breaking of Universiti Teknologi Mara in Kampung Bandar, Baling; and at night, a meet-the-people session at Taman Ria Jaya in Sungai Petani.
While there is nothing unusual about the two leaders being in the same state, many could not help but wonder if their presence had anything to do with an election study done on this northern state.
The study predicted that Kedah would see a hung assembly following the May 9 polls.
The study by a Universiti Utara Malaysia researcher anticipated that Barisan would win 16 seats, Pakatan Harapan 12 while PAS would take eight of the 36 state seats.
For a party or coalition to form the government in the state, it will need 19 seats in the Kedah legislative assembly.
Universiti Malaya’s Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi did not discount the possibility of a hung assembly, saying the fact that Dr Mahathir is now with Pakatan has changed the political landscape.
“With Tun Daim Zainuddin, a prominent and very much respected figure in Kedah throwing his support behind Dr Mahathir and Pakatan, the scenario of a hung state is not impossible,” he said.
“For Barisan to ensure voters will support it on May 9, it should name its new Mentri Besar if it wins Kedah,” said the political analyst, adding the perception is that while Datuk Seri Ahmad Bashah Md Hanipah is a leader of good character, he lacks leadership and qualification.
“Voters would want to know who will they have as Mentri Besar. It is common knowledge that if Pakatan wins, Datuk Seri Mukhriz (Mahathir) will lead the state. So voters want to know who is Barisan’s choice for MB,” said Prof Awang Azman.
Political analyst Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said it could be a close fight between Barisan and Pakatan in Kedah with PAS in between the two political coalition.
“Barisan should use the remaining of the campaign period to pull its resources and use the force of its election machinery to go all out to convince voters,” he said.
Barisan however is not overly concerned with the findings as it believes it has worked hard for the people since it won the state five years ago.
“We have brought changes and development to Kedah. We have been engaging with the people, listening to them, hearing them out, getting feedback from them on their needs and aspirations.
“Our top leaders Najib and Dr Ahmad Zahid have been helpful and cooperative with the state leadership by bringing new changes and projects to Kedah, said a state Barisan source.
In the last general election, the coalition wrested Kedah from PAS after winning 21 state seats. The Islamist party won nine seats followed by PKR with four seats and DAP two seats.
Following political developments in the state, the latest tally before the polls saw Barisan holding 20 seats, PAS seven and Pakatan nine seats.
Political analyst Datuk Abdul Halim Sidek rubbished the study, arguing that Kedah is stronger with Ahmad Bashah at the helm if compared to when it was led by Mukhriz.
“This is because Barisan, particularly Umno is stronger now. Despite people’s perception of him (lacking qualification), Ahmad Bashah has managed to unite Umno. When Umno is strong and united, we can expect Barisan to do well,” said Halim.
Abdul Halim said Mukhriz also had failed to bring together state Umno leaders as he had no political clout.
Quality of life and development projects take centre stage in the Kedah Barisan manifesto, with the highest allocation set aside for high-impact projects, which include the special border economic zone in Bukit Kayu Hitam, a series of road upgrading works, a cancer treatment centre in Sungai Petani, a new hospital for Langkawi, upgrade of the Alor Setar airport to international status and the setting up of the Kedah science and technology park.
Pakatan Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is scheduled to return to Kedah today, going to Pokok Sena and Jerlun.