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Who can dent Anwar Ibrahim’s armour in the Port Dickson by-election?

SINGAPORE — The October 13 by-election in Port Dickson will see a crowded field of seven candidates vying for the federal parliamentary seat in Negeri Sembilan state. By all accounts, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) incoming president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is a shoo-in for the contest.

Who can dent Anwar Ibrahim’s armour in the Port Dickson by-election?

PKR incoming president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim (third from left) poses for a photo with the other candidates at the nomination centre in Port Dickson, Negeri Sembilan.

SINGAPORE — The October 13 by-election in Port Dickson will see a crowded field of seven candidates vying for the federal parliamentary seat in Negeri Sembilan state.

By all accounts, Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) incoming president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim is a shoo-in for the contest.

At a rally on Sunday (Sept 30), Mr Anwar framed the by-election as an indication of his mandate to lead the country.

"'Anwar will win', I do not want it to be this way. We go down and we make sure everyone votes. I will be ashamed if I win but win narrowly," he said.

Mr Anwar, who just returned to public life after years of incarceration, has been named the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition's prime minister-in-waiting but needs a seat in Parliament to legitimise his position should Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad step down for him during this term, as promised.

Meanwhile, analysts told TODAY that former senior United Malays National Organisation (Umno) leader Mohd Isa Samad and Parti Islam Se-Malaysia's (PAS) nominee Mohd Nazari Mokhtar could make a dent in Mr Anwar’s armour.

Dr Oh Ei Sun, the principal adviser at Pacific Research Centre, said that Mr Isa is likely to garner the most votes among Mr Anwar’s opponents.

"Isa has widespread grassroot support in his native Negeri Sembilan, among all the candidates, he is a local PD (Port Dickson) boy. The others all came out of nowhere," he said.

Mr Rashaad Ali, a research analyst from the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies added: “Perhaps PAS will gain more votes from (those) disillusioned with Pakatan Harapan since the general election (in May).”

“Protest votes against Anwar's PD move might also manifest here," he said, referring to how the by-election was triggered.

Incumbent Member of Parliament (MP) Danyal Balagopal Abdullah gave up his seat to aid Mr Anwar's return to Putrajaya.

The remaining candidates are virtual unknowns and are expected to lose their deposits.

"Historically, Malaysian voters are very unlikely to vote for unknown candidates," said Mr Adib Zalkapli, a Kuala Lumpur-based analyst with risk consultancy Vriens and Partners.

Under the election rules, candidates need to get at least one-eighth of the votes in a constituency to get their RM10,000 (S$3,309.96) deposits back.

Here’s what you need to know about Mr Anwar’s opponents:

 

MOHD ISA ABDUL SAMAD (INDEPENDENT)

  • The former Umno vice-president resigned from his party last week to contest in the by-election as an independent candidate, citing his political credentials and his unhappiness over the Malay party's decision to stay out from the race.

  • Mr Isa led Negeri Sembilan as its chief minister for 22 years - between 1982 and 2004 - and remains popular with locals. He is the only candidate among the seven who hails from Port Dickson.

  • However, he is not without controversy. He was suspended from Umno for six years between 2005 and 2011 after being found guilty of money politics during the party's internal polls in 2004.

  • He was then appointed as chairman of state-owned Federal Land Development Authority between 2011 and last year. His tenure was blighted by investigations into alleged dubious land deals and hotel purchases.

 

MOHD NAZARI MOKHTAR (PAS)

  • The Islamist party fielded retired Air Force Lieutenant-Colonel Mohd Nazari to capitalise on the significant number of military voters in Port Dickson.

  • Mr Nazari, 57, who holds a master's in defence and strategic studies, previously served with the Royal Malaysian Airforce for 28 years, from 1980 to 2008.

  • He plans to bring up issues like the welfare of military personnel, who he claimed have been abandoned by the PH government.

 

MOHD SAIFUL BUKHARI AZLAN (INDEPENDENT)

  • He caused shock waves in the country a decade ago when he accused his then boss, Mr Anwar, of sodomising him at a condominium in Kuala Lumpur.

  • Mr Saiful Bukhari lodged a police report and subsequently testified at the trial, which eventually led to a conviction. (Mr Anwar was pardoned by the King days after PH captured power in the May 9 general election.)

  • Now a married father of two, Mr Saiful Bukhari, 33, insists he is not being paid by other parties to contest in his maiden election, nor does he harbour any agenda against Mr Anwar. He also pledged not to raise the sodomy issue in his campaign.

 

STEVIE CHAN KENG LEONG (INDEPENDENT)

  • Mr Chan, 51, had a varied career that brought him all over the world. He has worked as a graphic designer, producer and art gallery manager with several companies in Kuala Lumpur before moving to New York to work as a bartender, restaurant manager and a production assistant.

  • He returned to Malaysia in 2004, and dabbled in the F&B business, founding a speakeasy bar in Kuala Lumpur. That venture soon fizzled out and he moved to Shanghai to work for a sporting company for a few years before returning to Malaysia for good.

  • The social media personality is popular on Twitter via his handle 'tapaimalaya' where he gives his views on current issues. Besides campaigning face-to-face, he is also utilising the phrase #KasiChan (give me a chance) on social media to garner support.

 

LAU SECK YAN (INDEPENDENT)

  • The sole woman contender, Ms Lau, 57, is an educationist and a mother of four who pledged to serve the people attentively if she is voted in.

  • Describing herself as "approachable" and "a good listener" to the needs of the constituents, she is using the logo of a rabbit in the by-election.

  • “If we look at the rabbit, it has long ears which is symbolic of listening to all the problems of the people,” national news agency Bernama quoted her as saying.

 

KAN CHEE YUEN (INDEPENDENT)

  • Mr Kan is a trainer and consultant for various organisations. He claims to have mentored Malaysia's youngest lawmaker P Prabakaran during the May 9 general election.

  • News portal Malaysiakini reported that 45-year-old as a “supporter of the current (PH) government” and heavily involved with the “humanities and social justice”.

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