SUPPORT is growing for Islamist PAS in the traditionally Barisan Nasional (BN) state of Pahang.
Amid a rift in BN, Perikatan Nasional is confident of winning at least 13 state and four parliamentary seats. There are 14 federal and 42 state constituencies in Pahang.
PN, through Bersatu and PAS, is also sure of retaining eight seats, including Beserah (Indera Mahkota federal constituency), Tanjung Lumpur (Kuantan), Panching (Paya Besar) and Jengka (Kuala Krau).
The expansion of PN’s influence in Pahang, especially in the rural seats, is acknowledged by its rivals.
A Merdeka Center survey also showed increasing support for PN and that the coalition could overtake the number of seats held by BN in the state.
“PAS is expected to sweep all the seats that with 70-80% Malay voters,” said Merdeka Center executive director Ibrahim Suffian.
State PN chairman Saifuddin Abdullah told The Malaysian Insight support for the coalition in general is increasing due to better acceptance.
Saifuddin said one of the factors that attracted voters to PN was its early announcement of PAS deputy president Tuan Ibrahim Tuan Man as the coalition’s menteri besar candidate for the state
“BN is divided and has many internal problems,” said the Indera Mahkota incumbent.
As an example of how this has benefitted PN, Saifuddin pointed to the Maran parliamentary seat, for which its incumbent Ismail Muttalib is now running as a PN candidate after he was dropped by BN.
He said the action benefitted PN because Ismail is well-liked for his service to the constituency.
Maran has three state assembly seats. PAS won Luit and Chenor for the first time in 2018, both by a couple of hundred votes. Umno’s Shahaniza Shamsudin won Kuala Sentul by a majority of about 2,000 votes.
Umno has recently taken action against its local leaders, including its women’s division leader Fatimah Kassim, for sabotage.
The party said it had received complaints regarding the tendency of those party members to support the candidates of opposing parties.
Saifuddin said PN could penetrate Lipis’ BN stronghold, the Cheka state constituency, which is held by MCA.
“The reception in Cheka has been very good,” said Saifuddin.
Besides Cheka and Kuala Sentul, Saifuddin said Guai, Kuala Semantan and Pulau Tawar are also likely to go to PN.
Guai is one of the three state seats in interim prime minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s federal constituency Bera.
PN’s Guai candidate Nor Hashimah Mat Noh faces Noraini Abdul Ghani of PH and Sabariah Saidan of BN.
Independent candidate Jafari Mohd Yusof is also contesting for the seat that BN won in 2018 with a majority of about 3,200 votes.
Another state seat in the prime minister’s constituency, Triang, has been held by DAP for six terms.
In the Kuala Semantan state seat in the Temerloh parliamentary constituency, PN candidate Hassanudin Salim is up against BN’s Nor Azmi Mat Ludin, who won in 2018 by 474 votes.
PAS winning the state seats Damak and Tahan in 2018 has given PN the confidence to try to win Pulau Tawar – the last of three state seats in Jerantut.
In 2018, BN’s Nazri Ngah won Pulau Tawar by a mere 587 votes.
BN on defensive
Oher members of the PAS research unit in Indera Mahkota were cheerful when sharing their findings with The Malaysian Insight.
However, the same can’t be said of BN members in Lipis, who refused to be interviewed.
A member of the BN Lipis machinery admitted that the party was facing difficulties defending Cheka with the new MCA candidate, Lee Ah Wong.
“We admit that we are struggling in Cheka because the rival is not an ordinary person; he is the deputy president of PAS. We will pay more attention to Cheka,” said the member who did not want to be named.
On keeping Benta, another state seat in Lipis, which BN won by only 340 votes in 2018, the BN source did not see it as a problematic seat.
“So far we are only worried about Cheka,” she said.
Pahang BN chairman Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail said PN’s claims about winning Pahang are just talk.
“It’s normal, they must say they are confident. I am confident Pahang will be ours,” he said in Lipis.
The Pahang menteri besar did not have the data on BN’s popularity in the state but believed the coalition is favoured by voters.
“It is all guesswork now,” he said.
Pakatan Harapan sources admitted PAS is becoming more influential, especially in rural areas and in Felda.
A Pahang DAP source said the coalition no longer had the votes of Felda residents, who had previously voted for PAS when it was in Pakatan Rakyat.
He said the Malays have changed their attitudes in Tersang, which is under the Batu Talam state seat and Klau under the Raub parliamentary seat.
“PAS may control Tersang and Klau. It has already won Jengka in Kuala Krau,” said a source, who added that DAP expects to keep all its seats in Pahang.
He said PAS was able to win over Umno’s voters in 2018 and the trend could continue.
“PAS split the votes for Umno. More than 20% of Malay votes from Umno will go to PAS,” he said, adding Damak, Sabai and Cheka are three seats PH will find difficult to win. – November 17, 2022.