PETALING JAYA: All eyes will be on Kimanis tomorrow as its constituents head to the ballot to vote for whom they think should represent them in Parliament.
And the by-election is not without weight and significance, as experts believe that a loss for Pakatan Harapan-Parti Warisan Sabah (PH-Warisan) can be an indication of what is to come for the federal government in the 15th general election (GE15).
Political analyst Dr Asri Salleh said the by-election would prove to be of significant importance to PH-Warisan as anything but a win would only validate the perception that the pro-Barisan Nasional (BN) trend in the peninsular was no fluke.
This is in reference to the four BN by-election victories out of the five that have taken place in the country (BN did not field a candidate in the Sandakan by-election).
“If PH loses, it says a lot about the coalition losing its grip on power at the state level. That is a worrying trend for PH-Warisan, going into GE15.
“It could be a sign of its waning influence and the growing or re-emergence of BN as a strong rival for Warisan in GE15, that the ground has shifted, so to speak,” Asri told theSun yesterday.
However, the Universiti Teknologi Mara Sabah Faculty of Administrative Science and Policy Studies senior lecturer expects a very close fight in Kimanis.
He said it was very unlikely for either side to score a landslide victory, going by crowd attendance at walkabouts and ceramah, as well as the slim majority won by BN in GE14.
“One should not forget that in GE14, Datuk Seri Anifah Aman (then with BN) won by a mere 156 votes. That in itself is an indication to some degree of what is to come.”
Asri said one of the main factors that would determine the outcome of the by-election would be voters’ choice of the candidates – Warisan’s Datuk Karim Bujang and BN’s Datuk Mohamad Alamin – both of whom have served as assemblymen for Bongawan, a state seat within Kimanis.
“Both come with their own baggage. The people now have a standard on which to measure their performance when they were given the mandate before,” he said, adding that the Sabah Temporary Pass (PSS) issue could also determine the election outcome.
PSS, a single high-security card that will be issued to inland foreign refugees residing in Sabah, has been a hot topic being played up by the Opposition in Kimanis, claiming that there will be long-term dire consequences once the policy is implemented in June.
“I’d like to believe the majority of the voters are not in favour of PSS. But there is no telling if such a disapproval will lead to protest votes among PH-Warisan supporters, as many will still vote along party lines.”
Echoing Asri’s sentiment, public policy analyst Dr Lim Teck Ghee said it was pertinent that PH-Warisan win the by-election, as this would indicate that the coalition still has the support of those in East Malaysia.
“The important factor that will determine the outcome of GE15 will be the seats in East Malaysia. So PH really has to focus there, and make sure they have the votes. I see a PH-Warisan victory in Kimanis, but should they lose, then they really need to go back to the drawing board and see how they can win the support of East Malaysia,” he said.