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Touch-and-go for PKR in Setiawangsa, analyst says

Even the littoral combat ship scandal might not be enough to influence voters, particularly the powerful military vote.

Ahmad Mustakim Zulkifli
3 minute read
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PKR's Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad waves alongside supporters on nomination day for the 15th general election where he will be defending his Setiawangsa seat. Photo: Facebook
PKR's Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad waves alongside supporters on nomination day for the 15th general election where he will be defending his Setiawangsa seat. Photo: Facebook

An analyst says it may be difficult for PKR's Nik Nazmi Nik Ahmad to defend his Setiawangsa seat at the upcoming polls in the absence of any major controversies stirring the discontent of voters. 

Speaking to MalaysiaNow, Mazlan Ali said although Setiawangsa was an urban seat, it was nonetheless considered an Umno fortress. 

"At the last general election, the army vote swung to Pakatan Harapan (PH)," Mazlan, of Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, said. 

"There was a wave of anti-Barisan Nasional (BN) sentiment at that point, partly due to the 1MDB scandal.

"For the 15th general election (GE15), PH's chances of defending the seat are 50-50, depending on the issues at play."

Nik Nazmi, a PKR vice-president, will be fielded against Setiawangsa Umno chief Izudin Ishak, representing BN.

Perikatan Nasional (PN) meanwhile has named Nurul Fadzilah Kamaluddin of Bersatu as its candidate for the seat.

Other candidates in the six-way fight are Bibi Sunita Sakandar Khan (Pejuang), Lim Yen Tiong (independent) and Mior Rosli Mior Mohd Jaafar (independent). 

The Setiawangsa seat, formed in 2004, fell into opposition hands for the first time at GE14 when Nik Nazmi won it with 34,471 votes.

Former federal territories minister Zulhasnan Rafique won 20,099 votes while PAS candidate Ubaid Abdul Akla received 6,282.

Zulhasnan, the former Malaysian ambassador to the US, had been called to replace the incumbent at the time, Ahmad Fauzi.

With his background as a former military officer, BN had banked on him retaining the army vote for the administration – a gamble that ended in failure.

The army vote has traditionally played a big role in the constituency, where some 25,000 of the total 72,136 voters are from the military. 

This time around, Mazlan said, their votes could swing to PN, or back to BN.

On the odds of the littoral combat ship (LCS) scandal influencing the military vote, Mazlan agreed that the veterans would be affected by the disclosures. 

However, he said those who were still in active service would not be swayed. 

"Normally, their mood is one of loyalty to the government, with no political sentiments involved," he said. 

"The only time that anti-government sentiments had a big impact was at GE14. But even so, the police and army voters were not happy with PH's 22 months in power." 

Mazlan also referred to the Melaka election in November last year, where the army vote in the state constituency of Sungai Udang went to PN instead of PH.

The LCS scandal made headlines several months ago when it was revealed that billions in government funds were allocated but none of the promised ships completed on schedule. 

Checks on social media found a number of Setiawangsa residents up in arms over matters like the road conditions and the cuts in water supply.

Sadiq Rosli, who will be voting for the first time on Nov 19, said he wanted to see change in his constituency.

"We rarely see Nik Nazmi around, either," he said. "He's usually in the Setapak area.

"Izudin is a local here," he added, referring to the BN candidate. "I'm more comfortable with locals." 

And while Izudin is ahead of Nik Nazmi in terms of age, Sadiq said this made no difference for him.

"Even if they field a young candidate, if I don't know him, how will I vote for him?" he said. 

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