Crunch time for ‘right-hand man’

IPOH: Heavily tipped to win the Slim by-election, Barisan Nasional’s Mohd Zaidi Aziz will find out tomorrow whether he will be the late Datuk Khusairi Abdul Talib’s successor after years of being his “right-hand man”.

Barisan and Muafakat Nasional will also be interested to know how many votes and majority they can muster.

More specifically, they are keen to know the support from the Malays, who comprise at least 74% of the registered voters in the constituency.

Gaining a majority of support from the Malays will further strengthen Muafakat’s belief that they can be in the driving seat until the 15th General Election.

Umno and PAS will also have one eye on the contribution by Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) to determine its value to Muafakat.

Having polled over 8,000 votes and having clinched the state seat in the 14th General Election, Barisan will be banking on PAS to deliver the 4,000 votes they garnered in 2018.

Muafakat will also hope that Bersatu can help deliver more than half of the 6,000 votes they got in GE14, considering the split in the party between Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s camp and Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s.

Zaidi will face two Independent candidates, Amir Khusyairi Mohamad Tanusi, who is endorsed by Dr Mahathir’s Parti Pejuang Tanahair, and Dr S. Santharasekaran.

Another thing to look out for would be voters’ turnout as Zaidi and Dr Santharasekaran are expecting it to be lower than GE14’s.

In GE14, about 19,000 out of the 23,000 registered voters cast their ballots.

Both Zaidi and Dr Santharasekaran are estimating a turnout of between 14,000 and 17,000 voters.

Over the course of the campaigning period, Zaidi, Amir Khusyairi and Dr Santharasekaran have tried to meet as many voters as possible.

With the Covid-19 movement control order standard operating procedure in place, they have resorted to house-to-house visits, small gatherings and rallies, while voters are also understandably more vigilant and are avoiding large crowds and observing physical distancing.

The overall situation was considered to be peaceful although there were attempts by some politicians to sway voters by harping on issues and weaknesses of political parties and leaders from both sides.

On this, Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman political science lecturer Teh Boon Teck believes the issues raised would not have much of an influence on the outcome.

“I still very much believe that Barisan will win. The huge hardcore and grassroots supporters will fully back their candidate.

“Even if there is an effect, it will probably be just a small number of voters,” he said.

“In GE14, Umno won the seat with a 2,000-majority despite it being a three-cornered fight and the influence of Pakatan Harapan then, which was considered to be high that time,” he said, adding that it would not be a bad result for Amir Khusyairi if he could get more than 4,000 votes.

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