PETALING JAYA: The Seri Setia state seat may have been a PKR stronghold since 2008, but that has not stopped PAS from going all out to capture it.
There was fierce 11th hour campaigning by both sides, in contrast to the slow start three weeks ago.
Early campaigning involved walkabouts and visits to impoverished residential areas, mosques and morning markets.
The momentum picked up on Thursday, with both sides bringing out political titans at their ceramah.
PKR president-elect Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim attended two dinners and one ceramah, while PAS got a leg-up from Umno president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi and Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.
Pakatan Harapan candidate Halimey Abu Bakar also had an emotional moment during a press conference the same morning.
He teared up while reminiscing about his turbulent upbringing in the impoverished neighbourhood of Kampung Lindungan, a predominantly Malay area located in Desa Mentari in the constituency.
“I know what it feels like to be poor. I’m the son of a pasar malam (night market) hawker. Now it’s my turn to help my neighbourhood and my people,” said Halimey.
He was responding to his opponent Dr Halimah Ali’s dismissal of his “local boy” campaign motto as an outdated strategy.
The first-time candidate had been banking on his local roots as a strategy to relate to bread-and-butter issues faced by B40 households.
Halimey said issues faced by the lower income group could be tackled by Pakatan as it had adequate funding and resources.
He highlighted his time as a former Petaling Jaya councillor where he and then Seri Setia assemblyman Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad, mooted the RM765,000 Selangor Public Library Development Project@PJS6 in Kampung Lindungan.
The 2015 pilot project was an effort to tackle delinquency and misdemeanours involving minors in areas where drug addiction and robbery remained a serious issue.
On the other hand, Dr Halimah, banked on her experience as a former two-term assemblyman and a former state executive councillor.
She told Lembah Subang People’s Housing Project residents that their issues were similar to those she faced as an assemblyman in Selat Kelang, such as broken elevators, uncollected trash and urban poverty.
She also said she would ensure a check-and-balance in the state assembly comprising 49 Pakatan (two vacant) and four Umno assemblymen, and one PAS assemblyman.
Dr Halimah, 58, also argued that the by-election would be a litmus test of the people’s reception of Pakatan’s first 100 days in power.
She is also relying on the PAS-Umno cooperation in the Seri Setia polls. She narrowly lost the Selat Kelang seat in GE14 to Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia state chief Datuk Abdul Rashid Asari by 500 votes.
Universiti Malaya political analyst Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said voters were still caught up in the May 9 euphoria.
While acknowledging that Dr Halimah was more seasoned, he said her credentials may not be an advantage as PAS was not popular among middle-class voters.
He also said local folk did not know what to make of the collaboration between former political foes PAS and Umno.
The Seri Setia constituency consists of 55% Malays, 20% Chinese and 24% Indians.