MARCH 22 — BN has made an all-out effort to create a feel-good atmosphere but its political strategy is not as flexible as Pakatan Rakyat’s.
Pakatan Rakyat has started to unveil its candidates and display its strength. BN, meanwhile, is still carefully selecting candidates and considering constituency exchanges, causing election campaign activities in some constituencies to now lag behind.
Take the DAP as an example. Some candidates have been decided such as Negri Sembilan DAP chairman and Lobak state assemblymen Anthony Loke, who will be contesting the Chennah state seat, party parliamentary leader Lim Kit Siang will contest the Gelang Patah parliamentary seat and Himpunan Hijau chairman Wong Tack will contest the Bentong parliamentary seat.
Opposition Leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim had also announced on Wednesday some PKR parliamentary candidates. His daughter Nurul Izzah will seek re-election in Lembah Pantai and PKR strategic director Mohd Rafizi Ramli will contest the Pandan parliamentary seat. Also, five Sarawak parliamentary candidates have also been decided.
There are also some signs showing the deployment of PAS candidates, including party vice-president Salahuddin Ayub who will be contesting in Johor while former Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin will be contesting the Changkat Jering state seat.
As for the BN, the candidate list remains unclear. It was reported that MCA vice-presidents Datuk Seri Dr Ng Yen Yen and Gan Ping Sieu would not be contesting in their original or preferred parliamentary constituencies. Gan’s supporters even rushed to the MCA headquarters with the hope to change the situation.
There might be undercurrents in Kluang forcing Gan to shift and contest in Tebrau. However, he has been rejected by members of the local division.
Umno is eyeballing the Wangsa Maju parliamentary seat while the MCA is not willing to make a concession. Regardless of who is going to be fielded to contest the seat, it will trigger discontentment of the other party. If this is not suppressed, it would be unfavourable to BN, and PKR candidate Datuk Dr Tan Kee Kwong could then wait for redemption.
In addition, there are also different views on whether former MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat will seek re-election in the Pandan parliamentary constituency under the BN banner.
Pakatan Rakyat leaders are also taking the strategy of making a breakthrough to drive its election campaign. The decision to field Lim Kit Siang in Gelang Patah has disrupted the MCA’s original plans. Who would be fielded by BN to counter the DAP’s attacks in Chinese-majority constituencies? No one among MCA candidates can rival Lim. The MCA is now hastily defending against the DAP’s strong attack.
Lim has started to canvass for votes in Gelang Patah and once the Parliament is dissolved, he can then help his compatriots in other states or constituencies.
After Lim shifted to contest in Johor, Anwar said he might not seek re-election in Permatang Pauh and instead may contest in Perak or Selangor.
Permatang Pauh is the political base of Anwar and thus, regardless of who is contesting, the seat will be kept. It can help to create a momentum and seek an additional seat if Anwar contests in other states.
It might be a move to confuse BN when Anwar said he might leave Penang to contest in other states, but it has reflected that the Pakatan Rakyat’s strategy is more flexible. If Pakatan Rakyat leaders disperse to different frontline states, BN will have to develop a different strategy to cope.
Basically, the three component parties of the Pakatan Rakyat have placed their leaders in different states, while Umno’s mentri besar candidate for Selangor remains a mystery. BN has been too dependent on coalition chairman Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s personal charm while the image of individual leaders is not obvious enough.
Another example showing that Pakatan Rakyat’s election preparation progress is ahead of BN’s is that Pakatan Rakyat revealed its election manifesto on February 25.
Based on BN’s election preparation progress, the changes in Pakatan Rakyat’s strategy and Najib’s cautious style, the date to dissolve the Parliament might be further postponed as the BN wants to make a sally only when it has greatest confidence.