PEKAN : With the campaign period for the Chini state seat by-election coming to a close at 11.59 p.m. tonight, the three contesting candidates are using the last moments to intensify efforts to win over the hearts of the voters.
Limited by the standard operating procedure set by the Election Commission as part of the effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, the 14-campaign period which began on June 20 is the quietest seen in the country compared to other elections.
There were no large-scale campaign talks held, and the candidates focused their attention on walkabouts and house visits as well as the social media, as advocated by the EC.
According to political analyst from the Universiti Teknologi Mara’s Faculty of Administrative Science and Policy Studies in Raub, Dr Che Hamdan Che Mohd Razali, the campaigning which was held within the new normal here was contained as there was no contest from the opposition parties.
“In this campaign, the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate (Mohd Sharim Md Zain, 41,) is the front-runner, as he highlighted local issues affected Chini residents such as housing, the environment and job opportunities for the younger generation.
“Of course, Mohd Sharim will have no problems winning, but the challenge for him would be getting a bigger majority as there are only Independent candidates involved,” he told Bernama here today.
He said the presence of Independent candidates Tengku Datuk Zainul Hisham Tengku Hussin, 64, and Mohd Shukri Mohd Ramli, 49, was no threat as BN was now collaborating with PAS, whereas previously, the two parties were contesting against each other.
“Statistically, the majority should be much bigger. So the main challenge is to ensure that the number of voters who turn up is big,” he said.
For the record, in the 14th General Election, the late Datuk Seri Abu Bakar Harun (pic) won with a majority of 4,622 after obtaining 10,027 votes to defeat PAS candidate Mohd Fadhil Noor Abdul Karim who garnered 5,405 votes while Mohamad Razali Ithnain from PKR received 1,065 votes.
A Bernama look at the grounds found that compared to other elections, the Chini by-election had a quieter mood, with only BN flags and banners lining the roads into the Felda area.
Tengku Zainul himself seem more comfortable campaigning from house to house, and using the social media to win the hearts of voters here, especially the younger generation.
The other Independent candidate, Mohd Shukri, also used the social media, especially as he did not have the machinery to campaign.
Meanwhile, Che Hamdan said the Chini by-election was also a platform for Perikatan Nasional (PN) to build the perception of the people of the collaboration between parties.
“Although there appears to be a contest in the by-election, it is not a clash of two major coalitions in the country. So the collaboration within PN can only be seen through the willingness of the political parties to go to the ground to meet voters and the community. However, the real test is in the coming general election,” he said.
Tomorrow, a total of 20,816 of the 20,972 ordinary voters will vote at 65 polling lanes, while another 156 are election workers who have voted via the post.
The Chini by-election is being held following the death of its incumbent Abu Bakar, 60, on May 7 at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital from a heart attack. He has been the people’s representative there since the 11th general election in 2004.