With the Chinese voters swinging against the Pakatan Harapan in the Tanjong Piai by-elections, the ruling coalition is staring at yet another possible defeat.

This is what has been coming out of news reports on the campaigning for the Tanjong Piai, Johor, parliamentary by-election to be held on Nov 16.

Pakatan Harapan chairman Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad said the coalition has a good chance to retain the seat which became vacant after the passing of Dr Md Farid Md Rafik, 42, who is also Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department on Sept 21, due to heart complications.

Dr Mahathir said Pakatan retaining the seat would ensure promises are fulfilled.

But there is a wind of change in the mood of the Chinese voters while Malay voters are proving to be tough to win over for the PH after a revived Umno hit the government of Dr Mahathir on the flanks of race and religion.

Johor, the frontier state, swerved to the PH in the 2018 by-elections. Not many people thought this would happen since it is the birthplace of Umno, the party that ruled the state and the country for six decades.

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But a string of bad policies, according to reports in local dailies and online portals, has upset the Chinese community which voted massively for the PH last year.

The opposition Barisan Nasional is taking advantage of the shift in sentiments on the ground. Its candidate in the by-election is the Malaysian Chinese Association’s Dr Wee Jeck Seng. He is pitted against the Pakatan’s Karmaine Sardini.

The Tanjung Piai by-election will see a six-cornered fight with candidates from Pakatan, Barisan Nasional, Gerakan, Berjasa and two independent candidates.

Opposition parties, including the BN and its ally the Islamist PAS, control 93 out of 222 seats in the Parliament. Winning in Tanjong Piai will not give the opposition a stronger position in Parliament but a defeat of the PH will create a dent in Dr Mahathir’s government.

The Malaysia Chronicle portal, which is said to be pro-PKR or pro-Anwar Ibrahim, today said the Tanjung Piai had a shocker with only 50 supporters turning up for a PH rally.

It said the people did not turn up even after it was announced that Dr Mahathir was coming.

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“Mahathir is coming, so what!” it said, adding “A vote for BN is a vote for Najib”, which is the slogan of the PH candidate and it is no big deal.

“Big deal when Bersatu (Mahathir’s party) ultras and Azmin Ali (powerful Minister of Economic Affairs) cartel (is) (sic) already working with ex-PM Najib Razak’s cousin Hishammuddin Hussein to form a backdoor government!” it wrote.