The Tenang by-election scheduled to be held on the 30th of January is an acid test for BN’s claim of supremacy in Johor and for Najib personally. This state by-election will be a clear barometer and indicator to his popularity as the PM. Bear in our mind that Labis is a strong fortress for UMNO and BN and any diminution of winning majority is simply a no-go for BN in the forth coming GE.
As for PR leaders they admit that this constituency is a stronghold of BN and loosing with narrower majority is certainly an indicator that PR is already having the feel of its existence in this UMNO based state and will be the moral booster for the alternative coalition to look at Johor seriously in the next GE.
None of the PR leaders are taking on Tenang with winning optimism but all of them conclusively envision that a defeat with thinner majority is not an unworkable goal. They stay and remain as underdog and winning with however simple the majority will be taken as conquering success and the talk that BN is going to loose substantial number of seats both the Parliamentary and the state seats in Johor in the coming GE is not a fallacy or empty talk.
The issues that surround the election campaigners will be similar to issues debated currently in public places. Among the issues are DS Rosmah’s involvements in the national politics and administration, ETP, NKRA, racial issues, Intra-party problems within BN and numerous other relevant issues that relate to the daily life of Malaysians. In short this by election is the determinant of Najib’s and BN’s faith in future.
There are talks and gossips that Tenang is not as ‘tenang’ and the inroads made by PAS and PR are obvious, noticeable and quite invasive. BN may win but with thinner majority; and that is all the oppositions desire to proof in this by-election. Losing with narrower majority is as good as being a victor as this constituency is notably the among the strongest UMNO and BN stronghold in Johor.
The 2500 majority in the last GE was much narrower than the previous election (1999) when BN secured a majority of about 5000 votes. If BN is not able to at least preserve the 2500 majority this time around it simply means that BN is seriously loosing grasp in its own home and recognizable home turf. This election is also another test for MCA whether that party is still identifiable by the Chinese as the perception is that MCA is swiftly loosing grip of the Chinese support and heading for oblivion.
The acting UMNO head is facing encumbering problem to be accepted as a candidate as he is not local Tenang ‘boy’. Like the late Dato Sulaiman Taha, the acting heads hails from NS while most of the twenty branches are having preference for local ‘boy’ as their candidate. PAS on the other hand is fielding a young local lawyer who is well liked by the electorates in Tenang.
In actuality the most crucial votes are the Malay votes. This is much so as the propensity of the Chinese leaning towards DAP may leave only the residual support of the Chinese towards BN. These days the Chinese do not have any high regards for Malay leadership like they used to and for that reason they are now mounting pressure and demands to the extent that they want everything the Malays barely have. The huge vacuum of leadership is a real and God knows how UMNO and Malay leaders can address this serious issue.
BN has to be in tight control of the mind of the Malays within this constituency in order to make up a marginal win over PR (PAS) candidate …..And bear in mind that a slim win for PAS is a huge loss for BN, particularly in this constituency. So what is the actual initial judgment of the situation in Tenang?
Some people say it’s fifty-fifty. Let us wait until the 30th January, at about 10.30 PM. We should be able to get the answer by then.