THE statement by Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad on the possibility that the Pakatan Harapan candidate would retain the Tanjung Piai parliamentary seat has been described as a form of psychological warfare.
Political observers believe the PH chairman hoped to entice Barisan Nasional to pick an MCA candidate for the parliamentary by-election, scheduled for Nov 16.
Political analyst Azmi Hassan said based on the current scenario, it was very likely that BN would field a candidate from Umno for the seat as BN would have a higher chance of being defeated at the by-election with a candidate from MCA than Umno.
“Fielding a candidate from MCA will result in BN losing the Malay votes, but it is unlikely that Chinese voters would vote for a candidate from MCA.”
Azmi said the prime minister’s statement was specific to a candidate from Umno, and that it was perceived as a form of tactic in psychological warfare.
He said PH’s strength in Tanjung Piai was the Chinese voters, while Umno’s was the Malays.
“But don’t forget that the PH candidate will likely be a Malay and this will spur Umno to attract as many Malay voters as possible.”
Political analyst and Human Ecology Faculty lecturer of Universiti Putra Malaysia Associate Professor Dr Mohd Izani Mohd Zain said Dr Mahathir’s statement could discourage BN from fielding a candidate from Umno.
This way, Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia would gain the upper hand with the Malay voters.
Izani said a Malay candidate, either from Bersatu or Umno, had an advantage in this context, as there were more Malay voters, coupled with rising Malay sentiments and Islam.
“A lot of parties do not want to see a clash between two Malay candidates, such as from Bersatu and Umno, especially in this day.
“Although both parties have to nominate their best candidates, regardless of race, having a Malay candidate in Tanjung Piai is inevitable.
“If a candidate comes from MCA, the Malays would still continue to give their support, all in the name of unity.
“Even Pas president (Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang) had expressed Pas’ support for a candidate from MCA.
“For the upcoming by-election, maybe Umno deserves a chance (to field its candidate) and MCA can have its turn in the 15th General Election.”
It was reported on Monday that Dr Mahathir was confident that a PH candidate could win the by-election if BN fielded a candidate from Umno.