Saturday, October 16, 2010

Galas: Barisan victory imminent

Barisan Nasional is likely to win the Galas by-election in Kelantan on Nov 4, but that victory should not be interpreted as a sea change in the sentiment of Malaysian voters in general.

This is simply because Galas is one of the three state seats within the Gua Musang Parliamentary constituency which has always been a Barisan stronghold with Kelantan prince Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah lording over the area like a king.

It was simply the 'Political Tsunami' of the general elections in 2008 that resulted in lots of voters swinging over to support Pakatan Rakyat resulting in PAS' Che Hashim (whose death on Sept 27 resulted in the by-election) getting 4,399 votes and winning by a mere 646-vote majority. Tengku Razaleigh himself won the Parliamentary seat with a smaller margin of victory - 4,394 compared with 6,548 in 2004.

Now that Tengku Razaleigh has been appointed director of operations of the by-election, it is widely expected that his charisma and influence in the area will convince those who had switched camps, expecially the Chinese, to switch back.

The feeling is that the wave of discontent of the 'Political Tsunami' will not be as strong as it was in 2008, at least in that remote part of Kelantan, and Galas will revert to being a Barisan stronghold.

Observers had pointed out that the swing in Chinese votes ensured a PAS victory in 2008. The Chinese make up 22 per cent of the registered voters there.

Tengku Razaleigh has not lost touch with the grassroots especially the Chinese and the Orang Asli, who have always held him in high regard.

But that is the situation in that patch of land in rural Kelantan and it is not reflective of the situation in the other parts, especially urban areas, of the nation.

In these areas, the flood waters left by the 'Political Tsunami' have not been drained away yet and the anti-Barisan, anti-establishment sentiment is still very strong.

And these pools of political unrest are still the breeding grounds of even more discontent.

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