Will Isa and PAS candidate lose their deposits in the Port Dickson by-election tomorrow?
The polling survey by Institute Darul Ehsan (IDE) on the eve of the by-election tomorrow is most interesting – not whether Anwar Ibrahim is on track to defeat his six opponents or Mohd Saiful Bukhari Azlan will sink to the bottom, but that the PAS candidate would only maintain its 11% of the votes in the 14th General Election while former Mentri Besar Mohd Isa Samad would only garner 10 per cent of the votes cast.
If Isa Samad had not contested, and the bulk of the majority of UMNO votes had gone to the PAS candidate as conspired by UMNO and PAS leaders, then the PAS candidate would be able to retain his deposit in the by-election as PAS secured just short of 11% of the votes cast in the last general election (short of the 12.5% of the votes cast necessary to retain his deposit).
Many had expected Isa to do better than the PAS candidate in the by-election but the IDE survey shows otherwise, that PAS would maintain its 11% of the votes cast previously while Isa would get only 10 per cent of the votes cast, both forfeiting their deposits in being unable to get at least 12.5% of the votes cast.
This will have several implications.
Firstly, the continued marginalization of UMNO – with six UMNO MPs having resigned from UMNO since the 14th General Election, the sixth being the Labuan MP, Datuk Rozman Isli, joining others such as Datuk Seri Mustapha Mohamad and Datuk Seri Anifah Aman – with more UMNO MPs set to leave UMNO.
There is in fact a video skit making the rounds on the social media about more UMNO MPs leaving the sinking ship.
Only time will tell whether this crisis will lead to a more responsible UMNO or an even more desperate, bigotted, extremist and intolerant party as reflected by a recent Facebook posting by the UMNO Secretary-General urging UMNO members never to “sell or pawn” the struggle, let alone retreat or surrender.
Secondly, the continued shrinkage of PAS from a national party with elected representatives throughout Peninsular Malaysia to a regional party ensconced in the Malay states in the east coast and Kedah and Perlis, undoing all the successes and achievements in the reach-out efforts to all races, religions and regions undertaken by the two previous PAS Presidents, Fadzil Noor and Yusuf Rawa and the previous PAS Mursydul Am, Tuan Guru Dato' Nik Abdul Aziz bin Nik Mat for over two decades.
PAS won the least parliamentary seats in the 14GE since the political tsunami of the 12th General Election, and won even less seats than the 10th General Election under the leadership of Fadzil Noor, when PAS won 27 parliamentary seats.
The IDE survey forecasting that PAS “is not expected to gain more than one percent of non-Malay votes” is in sharp contrast to the by claim by the PAS President, Datuk Seri Hadi Awang that PAS has the support of non-Muslim voters in Malaysia.
Thirdly, that extremists whether in UMNO and PAS are fighting a losing battle in plural Malaysia if they resort to the toxic and vicious politics of race, religion, hate, fear and lies – especially in the era of information.
During my recent visit to Canberra, I recevied a note from Dr. John Funston in the Department of Political and Social Change, College of Asia and the Pacific of Australian National University (ANU), whose preliminary studies showed that Malay support for UMNO in Peninsular Malaysia in the 14th General Election was only about 5% higher than the support for Pakatan Harapan, and not 15% as had earlier been estimated by Merdeka Centre.
But many of the 2.3 million Malay voters who voted for UMNO and 2 million voters who voted for PAS were misled because I am sure they did not support the 1MDB corruption and money-laundering scandal, and would be horrified if they knew they were voting for a global kleptocracy or an Islamic kleptocracy.
Pakatan Harapan wants to transform Malaysia from a global kleptoctracy to a leading nation of integrity, a goal which I am confident would have the support of those who had been misled to vote for UMNO and PAS in the 14th General Election.
As tomorrow is polling day, I want to reinforce my call on the voters of Port Dickson to be conscious of history-in-the-making in the great current effort to build a New Malaysia, and why it is important to have a great victory in the by-election for two reasons: (i) a resounding mandate for Anwar Ibrahim to be the MP for Port Dickson and the eighth Prime Minister-designate; and (2) great support for building a New Malaysia.