While Pakatan Harapan (PH) has decided to field former chief minister Idris Haron in the contest for the Asahan state seat despite strong opposition from its component DAP, it remains to be seen if the man who helped spark the election to begin with will prove an asset or liability to the coalition come polling day on Nov 20.
Tan Hock Guan, 51, owns a coffee shop in Asahan. He is opposed to party-hopping on the part of politicians who then trigger elections through their decision to jump ship.
But he also says he is more likely to vote based on the party instead of the individual.
“My vote will depend on the coalition’s leadership as a whole to determine the direction of development in the state and the locality,” Tan, who has been a voter in Asahan since 2004, told MalaysiaNow.
Leo Kow Chai, 70, said voters in Asahan would choose Idris as he represents PH. But he said he would not agree if Idris were to be nominated as chief minister.
“It would not be fair if he jumped parties only because he wanted to be chief minister,” Leo said.
“Adly Zahari was chief minister before this, so he should lead PH, not Idris.”
Adly, who was yesterday announced as PH’s candidate for chief minister, had been DAP’s choice as well with its secretary-general Lim Guan Eng urging PH chairman Anwar Ibrahim to name Adly for the post if the coalition emerges the victor in the polls.
Nevertheless, Tan and Leo both said that Idris’ chances in Asahan are slim as the seat has been held by BN for a long time.
“So far, no one has been able to defeat Umno in Asahan,” Tan said.
“It looks like Umno will continue to rule here as it is a Malay-majority area.”
But Kamis Saad, who lives in Kampung Gunung Mas and has voted five times in the state constituency, is more optimistic about Idris’ odds.
Speaking to MalaysiaNow, the 70-year-old said Idris is a local and a familiar face to many.
“We are less familiar with the other candidates including those from BN and Perikatan Nasional (PN),” he said.
“Given that candidates are not allowed to campaign this time around, it’s possible that voters will choose Idris even though Asahan has long been held by Umno.”
Idris, the incumbent for Sungai Udang, was chief minister under BN from 2013 to 2018. On Oct 4, he and three other assemblymen – Nor Azman Hassan (BN-Pantai Kundor), Norhizam Hassan Baktee (independent-Pengkalan Batu) and Noor Effandi Ahmad (Bersatu-Telok Mas) – withdrew their support for Melaka Chief Minister Sulaiman Md Ali, leading to the dissolution of the state legislative assembly.
Idris and Nor Azman were subsequently sacked from Umno.
Dollah Din, who lives in Kampung Relau, said Idris might stand a chance of winning in Asahan as the people there remember his service.
This includes the construction of a mosque, a post office and the Haji Haron bridge, named after his father.
“He was also said to be close to the Asahan incumbent, Abdul Ghafaar Atan, during his time as chief minister,” Dollah, 78, said.
Dollah and Kamis agreed that Idris could win, adding however that he would need to convince the voters of his credibility.
“Then again, the Umno candidate might win. The question is whether he will be able to top Idris in terms of influence in this area,” Kamis said.
“The Chinese and Indian voters here are more inclined towards PH, so is Umno confident of dominating the Malay vote, especially when faced with the candidate from PN and three other independents?”