This morning, the PAS state assemblyman for Permatang Pasir in Penang, Datuk Mohd Hamdan Abdul Rahman, died at the National Heart Institute in Kuala Lumpur.
In the 2008 polls, Mohd Hamdan beat Umno's Ahmad Sahar Shuib by a majority of 5,433 votes.
In the recent by-election in Manek Urai in Kelantan, which was supposed to be a PAS stronghold, Barisan lost only by a very slim majority which showed that Najib's populist measures have worked to a certain extent.
Of course, the cunning move by Umno to split PAS by utilising the "Malay and Muslim unity" strategy paid dividends too. PAS leaders may not realise it, but they seem to be falling into a trap set by Umno because a weakened PAS benefits Umno.
Just when Mohd Hamdan's death was made known, Najib's government announced the launch of Permodalan Nasional Berhad's (PNB) Amanah Saham 1 Malaysia (AS1M) which goes on sale from Aug 5.
Malaysians aged 18 and above will be able to subscribe to the fund with a minimum investment of RM100.
For 30 days, bumiputeras can pick up 50% of the units while the Chinese can pick up 30%, Indians 15% and others 5%.
After the offer period is over, the remaining units will be offered to all.
On top of that 50,000 first-year students of local universities will receive 100 units each.
This is yet another populist move by Najib designed to win over the non-Malays who had deserted Barisan in the March 2008 general elections.
The results of the Permatang Pasir by-election will reveal for sure whether Pakatan Rakyat has lost some of its support to Najib's populist government.
If Barisan makes some inroads into Penang, it will be a slap in the faces of Pakatan's leaders because it is the home state of Pakatan's defacto leader Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and DAP's secretary-general Lim Guan Eng is the Chief Minister.
Not only that but Permatang Pasir is one of the three state seats in the Permatang Pauh Parliamentary constituency where Anwar reigns as king.