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PN banking on surprise win in Negeri Sembilan

PN's Negeri Sembilan chairman Ahmad Faizal Azumu is hopeful that the coalition will be able to win over the support of rural voters who have traditionally supported BN.

Azzman Abdul Jamal
3 minute read
Perikatan Nasional's Negeri Sembilan chairman Ahmad Faizal Azumu speaks in an interview with MalaysiaNow about his hopes for the coalition at the state polls to come.
Perikatan Nasional's Negeri Sembilan chairman Ahmad Faizal Azumu speaks in an interview with MalaysiaNow about his hopes for the coalition at the state polls to come.

In 2018, Pakatan Harapan (PH) took the country by surprise when it toppled the government led by Umno deputy president Mohamad Hasan in Negeri Sembilan, a state long seen as a Barisan Nasional (BN) stronghold. 

At the historic election which saw BN ousted from federal power for the first time since independence, PH won 20 seat states to BN's 16, and Aminuddin Harun from PKR was installed as menteri besar instead. 

Now, with Negeri Sembilan on the brink of election once more, the question is whether PH will be able to defend its hold on the state, where Malays form the majority of more than 60% of the electorate. 

Many believe that BN will be able to make a comeback, a view reinforced by the results of last year's general election where BN won five parliamentary seats in the state compared to PH's three. 

The voting pattern according to demographics shows BN with the upper hand in rural areas such as Rembau, Jelebu, Jempol, Kuala Pilah, and Tampin.

In more developed areas like Seremban, Port Dickson, and Rasah, meanwhile, PH continues to hold sway. 

This time around, though, there will be a third contender in the running: Perikatan Nasional (PN), which came from behind at the Nov 19 polls to win a sizeable chunk of the Malay vote. 

While PN does not currently hold any seats in the state legislative assembly, speculation is swirling over whether it will be able to pull off the same stunt at the state level, replacing BN as the coalition of choice for rural Malay voters and ousting PH at the administrative level. 

Ahmad Faizal Azumu, PN's newly appointed chairman in Negeri Sembilan, is confident that the coalition will be able to expand its influence in the state.

Speaking in an exclusive interview with MalaysiaNow, he said this was especially so as Umno had joined hands with DAP at the federal level – a move he described as unpalatable for many of the state's rural voters. 

While nothing is certain, he expects the situation to give PN the edge and allow it to put up a good fight.

"We believe that today, sentiments especially among the Malays, not only in Negeri Sembilan but throughout the country, have changed direction, what more when parties which previously represented the Malays like Umno are now working with their enemy DAP," he said. 

Election plans

According to Faizal, the deputy president of Bersatu, the distribution of seats in the state is complete and will be announced at the appropriate time. 

He said every PN component party including Bersatu, PAS and Gerakan would be involved with candidates from a variety of backgrounds. 

On Bersatu's offer of membership to former Umno man Khairy Jamaluddin, Faizal said PN would do well in Negeri Sembilan with or without the help of the one-time Rembau MP. 

However, he acknowledged that Khairy's presence would make a difference in PN's support in the state. 

"We don't think about individual leaders," he said. 

"To us, the main thing is the interests of the people. That is the basis of our struggle. 

"If Khairy wants to join us, good. If not, the struggle will still continue." 

Faizal also confirmed that he would not be PN's candidate for menteri besar, saying a local candidate will be chosen if the coalition receives the mandate in Negeri Sembilan. 

"It won't be me because I will not be contesting," he said. 

"I am only taking over the chairmanship of PN in the state so that I can help the local leaders focus on their respective areas.

"We would welcome the support of big names like Khairy. But what we have now is enough to attract support on our own."