The Tanjung Bidara state seat will see a three-cornered contest in the upcoming Melaka polls with two heavyweights from Barisan Nasional (BN) and Perikatan Nasional (PN) in the running to lead the state administration if their coalition succeeds.
Deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, Mas Ermieyati Samsudin, who is also vice chief of Bersatu’s women’s wing, will face off with Melaka Umno communications chief Ab Rauf Yusoh.
BN decided to field candidates in all 28 state seats after negotiations with PN came to a standstill.
The contest in Tanjung Bidara will also see Zainal Hassan representing Pakatan Harapan (PH).
Mas Ermieyati is MP for Masjid Tanah while Rauf will be running in an election for the first time.
At the 2018 general election, Mas Ermieyati won 44.5% of the vote as BN’s candidate, defeating Sabirin Ja’afar of PH and Mohd Nasir Othman from PAS who obtained 28.7% and 9.1% respectively.
The Tanjung Bidara seat is held by former Umno assemblyman Md Rawi Mahmud who retained the seat for two terms.
He won the seat in the 14th general election with 4,865 votes and a majority of 2,864 against Halim Bachik and Imran Abdul Rahman from PH and PAS.
However, he decided not to defend his seat at the Melaka polls due to his age.
The seat is seen as an Umno stronghold and the contest will test public acceptance of Rauf, who is Masjid Tanah Umno chief and a former Melaka state assembly speaker.
Political analyst Ahmad Marthada Mohamed of Universiti Utara Malaysia said Rauf would aim for so-called safe seats to ensure an easy victory.
“Any defeat would tarnish Umno’s image,” Marthada told MalaysiaNow.
Rauf entered the spotlight after his move along with Idris Haron sparked the withdrawal of support from four state assemblymen including Idris for Chief Minister Sulaiman Md Ali, paving the way for the Melaka polls.
He subsequently made frequent appearances in the media to provide information on behalf of Umno on political developments in the state.
Hisommudin Bakar, executive director of Ilham Centre, said the contest for the Tanjung Bidara seat would be an indicator of the Malay support in Melaka.
“The results will be a reference point for BN in drawing up its strategies against PN,” he said.
“In the best case scenario, BN will be able to form the state government alone, establishing the perception that the Malay voters have returned to the coalition after its loss to PH at GE14,” he told MalaysiaNow.
If BN loses, meanwhile, it will not be able to sustain three-way fights at the general election to come, he added.
“Which way the Malay vote swings needs to be studied to determine which Malay party will be their best bet.”