The Pakatan Harapan government is finding it tough to get back the support it garnered last year in Johor that helped it overthrow the Umno government.
In 2018 it got a majority of 64% of Chinese voters on its side and 32% of Malay-Muslims gave significant support to Pakatan to win the seat.
This time around, in the Tanjung Piai by-election which is taking place this Saturday, reports say a confluence of factors is making it difficult for the coalition to retain the seat.
In 2018, the Bersatu of Dr Mahathir won the seat narrowly. It’s candidate, the late Md Farid Md Rafik unseated Malaysian Chinese Association’s Wee Jeck Seng.
Wee is set to reconquer the seat this time, with Chinese support waning for Pakatan and the Umno-PAS alliance pushing for Malay votes.
Several media reports indicate impatience from Chinese voters against the Pakatan. There are many issues that dwindled the confidence of the community in the Pakatan government but the introduction of the Jawi or Khat (Islamic calligraphy) in vernacular schools ticked-off the Chinese community.
This may weigh in the balance since many people in the country, including Anwar Ibrahim who is set to be the next PM of Malaysia, rejected the idea of Islamic calligraphy being taught to non-Muslim students.
But Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad insisted the move was alright and approved it himself.
The Chinese community may also hold a grudge against Dr Mahathir for the Malay unity congress which he officiated.
Some participants in the congress made inflammatory speeches during the congress.
Now, the Chinese in Johor’s Tanjung Piai have a chance to have their say on the matter and they may swing to the Barisan Nasional candidate.
The Chinese make up of 41.4% of the population in Tanjung Piai and the Malays 57.6%. A swing in the Chinese vote may bring victory to the BN candidate.
Anwar to the rescue
On the other hand Anwar came to the defence of Pakatan over the Tanjung Piai by-election. He admitted there are some in the government who are acting more like Umno, but he said this was part of the process of change in Malaysia.
He again insisted the government should be given time to redress the situation and fulfil its promises.
“People say ‘we want to teach the government a lesson so that they know there is opposition’.
“The Chinese are not happy, they support Harapan but are not happy. Malays, meanwhile, think we have become DAP and that I am a DAP member,” Anwar said. -/TISG