SEMENYIH: Forget heavyweight political parties with deep pockets – for Parti Sosialis Malaysia (PSM), the biggest fear in the Semenyih by-election is what is expected to be a low voter turnout.
With election fatigue beleaguering Semenyih folk, the number of people who will turn out to vote on March 2 might be low, said PSM central committee member S. Arutchelvan.
Based on a survey conducted by the party after a week of campaign, he said the mood on the ground was “quiet and cold”.
“Aside from the election mood in social media and on the news, the reality on the ground is that people in Semenyih are not very excited about the election.
“We think there will be a low percentage of voters who will come out and vote,” he said in a press conference here on Saturday (Feb 23).
Arutchelvan said the party was trying to get people to vote for PSM as an alternative to Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional.
“We are telling the people to consider the alternative.
"Don't look at the big picture because it's the same picture. Barisan and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia is of the same DNA,” he said.
However, in spite the “quiet and cold” air on the ground, there also seems to be a mood for “protest votes”, and PSM hoped to harness this dissatisfaction towards the government, he added.
Arutchelvan estimated that out of some 54,000 voters registered in Semenyih, 60% of the votes could swing, but he said it would be harder to target other parties’ hardcore supporters.
He said despite Pakatan and Barisan candidates being backed by political heavyweights such as Bersatu president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Barisan’s former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, PSM did not feel challenged.
He said PSM candidate Nik Aziz had a good grasp of local issues and had put out a manifesto based on real problems faced by locals such as healthcare and tolls.
“We don't have any heavyweight politicians to back our candidate. But we don't feel challenged by other candidates.
“We are urging people to look at the candidates and choose the best,” said Arutchelvan.
He appealed for people to choose based on the best candidate that could champion local issues instead of choosing based on the party.
Meanwhile, Nik Aziz said his campaign reach-out had been positive, with the party having covered all 24 polling districts and now in its second round.
Based on the survey, he also said PSM was gaining ground and had for the first time penetrated into Umno and PAS strongholds in Malay majority villages.
“Our achievement is higher than others because of the manifesto. The locals know that these are real issues faced by them,” he said.
The by-election was called after Semenyih Pakatan assemblyman Bakhtiar Mohd Nor died on Jan 11.
It will see a four-cornered fight between Pakatan, Barisan Nasional, Parti Sosialis Malaysia and independent candidate Kuan Chee Heng.
Pakatan's Muhammad Aiman Zainali faces Barisan's Zakaria Hanafi, PSM's Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul and independent candidate Kuan Chee Heng.
The Election Commission (EC) has set Feb 26 for early voting, while polling will be held on March 2.