The HPU factor in Tanjung Piai by-election

The HPU factor in Tanjung Piai by-election

Deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department for National Unity and National Wellbeing, Datuk Dr Md Farid Md Rafik, 43, died today of a heart attack at Pontian Hospital.

His death inevitably has triggered a by-election which would be announced by the Election Commission in due time.

Dr Md Farid of Bersatu is a first term MP for Tanjung Piai.

In the 14th general election, this newcomer defeated two term incumbent Wee Jeck Seng of MCA and PAS candidate, Nordin Othman to claim victory.

Farid polled 21,255 votes against Wee’s 20,731 and Nordin’s 2,962 votes.

Bersatu is part of Pakatan Harapan. MCA, a member of BN coalition that had over 14 coalition members and PAS was part of Gagasan Sejahtera.

Former British prime minister Harold Wilson once said, “A week is too long in politics”.  It has been about 16 months now and the dynamics of politics have definitely changed.

BN shrunk into a three-party coalition with Umno, MCA and MIC in it. 

Most importantly PAS and Umno signed a national consensus charter at a Himpunan Penyatuan Ummah (HPU) last week at the Putra World Trade Centre which is Umno’s headquarters.

Tanjung Piai has been represented by MCA since the constituency was created in 2004.  Its first MP was Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting who is also former MCA president.  This was followed by Wee since 2008.

When one looks at the voter breakdown in Tanjung Piai, there were 50% Malay voters. The seat was traditionally contested by the DAP as it is against MCA. Interestingly the DAP fielded Malay candidates but was not successful in winning the seat.

The redelineation exercise conducted in 2017 raised the number of Malay voters to 57%.

Tanjung Piai is made up of two state seats – Pekan Nanas and Kukup.

Based on these factors, Farid contested Tanjung Piai.

It is almost certain the upcoming by-election would be a straight fight between Pakatan and BN and its ally, PAS.  Independents and other parties would not be able to make a mark on the by-election.

The bigger question now is whether Umno and PAS would force MCA to give up the seat for them to contest based on the fact that there is a bigger Malay electorate in the seat.

Prior to the signing of the charter, Pakatan was already defeated in three by elections: the Cameron Highland parliament seat; Rantau and Semenyih state seats.

On that note, current MCA president Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong is representing Ayer Hitam that has 58% Malay voters.

On the side of the ruling coalition, questions arise over the capability of the DAP wooing the 42% Chinese votes as the party led by its Johor DAP chief Liew Chin Tong made inroads in Johor.

Liew is today deputy defence minister.  The DAP, however, is the common punch bag within Pakatan for Umno’s jabs and PAS’ hooks.

As for the Chinese community, some view the party as being silent on issues concerning the Chinese community similar to how the MCA was.

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HPUTanjung Piai by-election