PORT DICKSON,. Despite Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s historic stump for former foe Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim this week, it still remains to be seen whether or not the prime minister’s appearance here will translate into support for the PKR president-elect.
While Dr Mahathir’s appearance alongside Anwar at a grand ceramah has certainly spiced things up in an otherwise lacklustre by-election campaign, some voters believe that a win for Anwar is not yet an absolute certainty, and that support right now is “unpredictable.”
Constituents may be excited to see Pakatan Harapan bigwigs turn up to shore up support for Anwar; but there are some who believe that he will face a tough challenge from former Umno warlord Tan Sri Isa Samad.
44-year old marketing executive Rahim says that Isa has “deep roots” in the seaside town, and that many voters recognise and appreciate his past contributions to the federal constituency.
“Coming to the last stretch of the campaign period, it’s normal to see the candidate pull all the stops to woo voters. This includes having our prime minister down here to support Datuk Seri (Anwar).
“But I believe this is to sway voters away from casting their ballots for Tan Sri (Isa) who has strong support here and he will definitely give PH a tough challenge come polling day. Even if Isa did not win, he could still shave the votes of PH, reducing its majority,’’ he said.
“But we have to see what the results are. Since the general elections, things tend to be more unpredictable,’’ Rahim added.
Isa is also the former Umno division chief for Telok Kemang and has served said post for 20 years.
Another local, Mohd Salleh Omar says that while people may adore and respect Dr Mahathir and Anwar, this did not mean a vote for PH come polling day.
“I am not sure whether this would translate to more votes for Datuk (Seri) Anwar. It is too early to say it only happens yesterday (Monday).
“There has not been much talk on his support for Anwar, only that people are excited to see him in person,” he told Malay Mail.
Another local, known only as Muru said that the reason why some people attended Dr Mahathir’s ceramah was because they wanted to see the PM in the flesh, and it did not necessarily mean they showed up to support PH’s candidate.
“The locals are excited once they know Tun Mahathir is coming. Many of us came down to see him and hear what he has to say but it was not on the basis of politics that we came and see him,” he told Malay Mail.
But for 58-year old food hawker, Nancy Koo, Anwar is already poised to win in Port Dickson whether Dr. Mahathir or any other PH leaders come down to support him or not.
“The fact that he is the prime minister in waiting is appealing already. I don’t think the people here would need much convincing to support him as they know that Datuk Seri Anwar would take care of the district if he were to win.
“Having Tun (Mahathir) to support would certainly give him the boost he needs. He is already a charismatic leader and from the looks of it he might win comfortably this Saturday,’’ she said.
Analysts have said Anwar must win the by-election with a comfortable majority to show that he has enough public support as the future prime minister.
In GE14, Datuk Danyal Abdullah from PKR garnered 36,225 votes, with a majority of 17,710 votes against BN and PAS contenders. The voter turnout for the seat also saw 83.20 per cent.
It was also reported that PH may provide free bus services to ferry voters this Saturday.
But PKR communications director Fahmi Fadzil told Malay Mail that there has not yet been any “concrete decision” on the matter yet, only that it is currently being discussed.
What they will do, he explained is to provide cars to ferry voters to local polling centers, a normal practice done to help voters cast their votes..
Apart from Anwar and Isa, the Port Dickson by-election this October 13 will see 5 other candidates vying for the support of 75,770 registered constituents.