Rantau by-election: A hattrick for BN?

Rantau by-election: A hattrick for BN?

By: K Pragalath

ANALYSIS In the list of by-elections that has taken place since GE14, Pakatan Harapan has already suffered two defeats in Cameron Highlands (DAP) and Semenyih (Bersatu).  Rembau MP Khairy Jamaluddin Abu Bakar is hoping for a hattrick success for BN in the by-election via the Rantau by-election.

For the record, the four confirmed candidates are Umno’s Dato Sri Utama Mohamad Hasan for BN, Dr S Streram of PKR for Pakatan Harapan and independents R Malarviji and Mohd Nor Yassin.  On nomination day, PAS claimed Nor Yassin is a member of Amanah and the party booted out Nor Yassin with immediate effect.

Though it is a four cornered fight, it is ultimately BN or Pakatan that would win the race as seen in the recently concluded Semenyih by-election.  As always, the role of the independents in elections and by- elections are irrelevant. 

In Peninsula Malaysia, the only time an independent won a by-election would be Umno’s Shahrir Samad in 1988 following the crisis that led Umno being split into Umno and Semangat 46.

We shall now look into factors that would look into factors that determine the winner in Rantau.

Candidate factors

Mat Hasan has already scored a point by nudging the Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar and Negeri Sembilan PKR chief Aminuddin Harun over the Seremban International Golf Club (SIGC) alcohol controversy.

To recap, Aminuddin who took up the position of club president due to a change in the club’s constitution fussed over the serving of alcohol drinks.  He said that the serving of alcohol drinks would hurt the sensitivities of Muslims. 

Mat Hasan however defended the rights of the non-Muslims without hurting the sensitivities of the Muslims.

“You must not forget that the members of the club, which was set up in the 1950s, are multiracial.  The last thing you should do is impose your values on others. Even the Al-Quran says so.”

He said that while he did not agree with alcohol consumption, he did not impose personal views on the public.

“If I had done so, I would make Negeri Sembilan alcohol free.  But I need to be sensitive to the needs and rights of the non-Muslims who live here,” Mat Hasan said.

The comments indicate that Mat Hasan is of a higher calibre than PKR’s Streram.

Dr Streram’s candidacy has been filled with infighting over his candidacy.  Rantau PKR chief R Tangggam has claimed that he has buried his hatchet over Streram’s candidacy. Streram is PKR deputy chief in Rantau.

Only time would tell that is the case for Streram. Looking at the by-election from a bigger lense, the infighting at the national level has prevailed.  Streram belongs to the Rafizi Ramli camp.  Rafizi was present for the nominations, not Azmin.

Politics is the art of the possible. One can say things without saying things.  One also can let their work do the talking while keeping silent.

Streram also made a novice error by not donning the Pakatan colour of red on nomination day.  One understands that candidates are barred from wearing clothes that indicate symbols of their parties and coalitions but there are no rules that bars one wearing the colours.

Streram’s failure has caused unhappiness among Pakatan supporters at the nomination centre.

In the PH context, the candidacy of Nor Yassin, an Amanah member contesting as an independent indicates the lack of cohesion within the ruling coalition.  How can Amanah overlook the distrust of its members against Streram?

Some BN leaders have claimed that Nor Yassin is Pakatan’s second candidate as they are not happy with Streram’s candidacy.

The other independent candidate R Malarviji may or may not be a candidate planted by BN to chip away the Indian vote base after allegation involving Streram and Indian actress, Namitha failed.

Development

Going around the Rantau constituency, one can’t help but notice that the development rate in Rantau is largely uneven since most are under developed.  Rantau, for instance, is small town that does not even have a hotel. 

Mohamad’s hometown is Kampung Krayong which is within a kilometer from Rantau town. The only developed area in Rantau is Sendayan where the nomination took place on March 30.

Mohamad, better known as Tok Mat, has been Negeri Sembilan for the past 15 years prior to GE14.

When one looks at Negeri Sembilan’s neighbouring state, the example of former Pahang Menteri Besar Dato Sri Adnan Yaakob has been Pelangai state assemblyman since 1986.  He was also the Menteri Besar since 1999 until 2018.

Pelangai is part of the Bentong parliament seat.  A visit to Pelangai revealed that the seat has neither petrol stations nor bank automated teller machines.  Adnan still won the seat even though BN lost Putrajaya.