The Barisan Nasional coalition (BN) had unanimously decided to boycott the upcoming Port Dickson by-election that is scheduled to take place on 13 October 2018. Ahmad Zahid Hamidi, president of UMNO, the leading party within BN, made this announcement during a press conference that was held at UMNO’s headquarters in Kuala Lumpur on Monday, 24 September. He told the press that were present that it was a collective decision made by UMNO along with its two main component parties, MCA and MIC.
BN believed that the by-election for Port Dickson was forced and undemocratic because it was triggered solely to cater to one individual’s political ambitions and plans. The seat became available when its incumbent Danyal Balagopal Abdullah of PKR voluntarily resigned to enable his party president elect and political heavyweight Anwar Ibrahim to stand for elections. In order for Anwar Ibrahim to become Prime Minister after Mahathir Mohamad steps down, he must first be made an elected member of parliament in Malaysia. The previous three by-elections for the Sungai Kandis, Seri Setia and Balakong state seats in Selangor were all triggered due to the incumbents passing away after winning the said seats during the 14th General Elections.
As chairman of Barisan Nasional, Ahmad Zahid Hamidi also stressed that it was BN’s view that the by-election for the parliament seat of Port Dickson was most unnecessary and wasteful in terms of time, manpower as well as funds. The Election Commission had earlier estimated the latest and fourth by-election since the 14th General Elections to cost the taxpayers’ about 3.6 million ringgit. The high costs is due to the five state seats that comes under the purview of the Port Dickson Dickson parliament constituency and so required more manpower.
BN had traditionally fielded a candidate from MIC, its Indian-based political party member to stand for election in Port Dickson. But with MIC declining it this time around, it became UMNO’s choice to contest the seat.Before the decision to boycott was made by BN, many had expected Mohamad Hasan, former chief minister of Negeri Sembilan and current state assemblyman for Rantau to be chosen as the candidate to face-off with Anwar Ibrahim.
Prior to the announcement by the UMNO president, one of its more popular member of parliament Khairy Jamaluddin had shared that UMNO must contest in the by-election to prevent Anwar Ibrahim from claiming it too easily. In his words via his official Twitter page, “PD is a not winnable seat but we must fight this shameless political entitlement. Coronations are for kings. And Anwar isn’t one”.
UMNO-BN must contest. PD is not a winnable seat but we must fight this shameless political entitlement.
Coronations are for kings. And Anwar isn’t one. https://t.co/hsENor0gvw
— Khairy Jamaluddin (@Khairykj) September 17, 2018
Khairy Jamaluddin’s stand was echoed by Mohamad Amar, vice president of PAS, the Islamic party that took control of the states of Kelantan and Terengganu and is currently on friendly terms with UMNO. Mohamad Amar shared his personal opinion that Anwar Ibrahim would be granted a free win of Port Dickson if UMNO chose not to field any candidate in the by-election. However, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang had mentioned in jest that PAS was ready to contest if UMNO was not.
On the Pakatan Harapan side, DAP secretary-general and current finance minister Lim Guan Eng scoffed at the decision to boycott the Port Dickson by-election by BN. He claimed that BN had decided not to contest because they knew they would not be able to win. Lim Guan Eng further stated that the boycott clearly showed that BN was only interested to contest for the glory of power and not based on principles or ideals.
With BN boycotting and PAS’ decision to contest still being a question mark, the Port Dickson by-election will see a four-cornered fight between Anwar Ibrahim (Pakatan Harapan-PKR), Parti Rakyat Malaysia and two independent candidates, Stevie Chan Keng Leong and former MIC secretary-general G. Kumar Aamaan.