People have wondered why two small parties are contesting in the Tanjung Datu state by-election although it is known as a BN stronghold.
Political analysts say they are doing it for the publicity they would generate.
The two local Sarawakian opposition parties contesting against BN are Sarawak Reform Party (STAR) and Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDS Baru).
Analysts said both parties have joined the fray with their eyes wide open, likely expecting to lose their deposits as well.
“From day one, they know they are going to lose.
“So victory is not important to them. What matters to them is visibility,” Universiti Malaysia Sarawak (Unimas) professor Jeniri Amir told FMT during a working trip here today.
“These two parties are mosquito parties. And the best time to contest is during a by-election such as this because all the focus will be on them.”
The Tanjung Datu state seat fell vacant after chief minister Adenan Satem passed away on Jan 21 from heart complications.
BN’s dominant party in the state, Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu (PBB) has fielded Adenan’s widow, Jamilah Anu, to defend the seat.
Jeniri said the opposition parties have shown themselves to be poorly organised with very little financial support.
“Their manifestos are not that good and their campaign machinery is very weak. You don’t see posters around here or along the roads. I haven’t seen one yet,” he said.
He said the opposition parties have to also battle voter sentiment regarding the late Adenan.
“His legacy will always loom large. A large part of BN’s decision in choosing Puan Sri Jamilah was the appearance of continuity in Tan Sri Adenan’s legacy.”
Jeniri said BN’s grassroots supporters are confident that Jamilah is not only familiar with her late husband’s work, but also the thinking behind it.
“There is a sentimentality here among the voters, similar to Wong Ho Leng’s case, where his wife won largely on the legacy left behind,” said Jeniri referring to the late state DAP leader who died from brain cancer in 2014.
In Sarawak’s state election last May, Wong’s widow, Irene Chang contested and won the vacant seat of Bukit Assek with a 4,497-vote majority.
Jeniri said he expected both parties to lose their deposits on polling day this Saturday, pointing to the past performances of the opposition candidates.
STAR’s candidate Johnny Aput lost the contest for Bukit Semuja in last year’s state election, garnering only 53 votes against BN John Illus’ 5,451 votes
PBDS Baru’s Rapelson Richard Hamit, who contested under the Amanah banner last year for the Gedong state seat, garnered 699 votes against BN Naroden Majais’ 4,064 votes.
Candidates put up RM5,000 as deposit each for the by-election, plus RM3,000 refundable banner deposit each.
The RM5,000 deposit is not returned should a candidate fail to garner at least one-eighth of the total votes cast.
“Even when it was a straight fight with PKR in Tanjung Datu, the candidate garnered only 468 votes and lost his deposit in the process,” said Jeniri, referring to PKR candidate Jazolkipli Numan’s defeat by Adenan.
Adenan secured 5,892 votes last May.
Meanwhile, University of Tasmania’s Asia Institute director professor James Chin said both parties will lose their deposits due to bickering over the media spotlight.
“The opposition parties are wasting their time. If the opposition really wanted to fight, rather than just showing off, they should’ve tried to unite with one candidate. If they had united, they will not lose their deposit,” said Chin, who is a political analyst.
Chin, however, expressed dismay at the choice of BN’s choice of candidate and said that allowing family members to contest vacant seats may lead to political dynasties.
“The only concern I have is the candidate herself. Is it a trend now that certain seats belong to certain families? I think this is very unhealthy for Sarawak politics.”
Source : Richard T.W. @ FMT Online