Poll shows Bagan Pinang voters want Isa as Umno candidate

By Leslie Lau (Malaysian Insider)
KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18 — As Umno continues to dither over its choice of candidate for the Bagan Pinang by-election in Negeri Sembilan, a recent survey of voters commissioned by PAS gives an indication of just how serious a dilemma Barisan Nasional (BN) faces.

The poll shows 59.6 percent of voters in the BN stronghold favour former Mentri Besar Tan Sri Isa Samad as Umno’s candidate, according to a report published in harakahdaily.net, the online edition of the PAS party organ.
Those who favour Isa cite the former MB as a leader who had performed better than the current mentri besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan, according to the poll conducted by Ilham Centre.
The poll comes amid intense campaigning by Umno divisions in the state to field Isa despite concerns that he is tainted by the fact that he was previously found guilty of vote buying by his own party.
Former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad has also spoken out against nominating Isa.
Bernama quoted Dr Mahathir as saying Umno’s image would be affected because it would be regarded as not being serious in fighting money politics if it chose as a candidate someone who has been found guilty of political corruption.
“Even if he can win there, (we) have to consider what the whole of Malaysia thinks of Umno,” he said in an interview with Bernama yesterday.
Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah also warned today against fielding “tainted candidates” in the by-election as it could undermine Umno, going against the tide that wants a convincing victory after a string of defeats to the Pakatan Rakyat since Election 2008.
Despite the overwhelming support for Isa in Bagan Pinang, the PAS poll also shows that voters are concerned about Isa’s past, suggesting the former MB’s record would be a factor on the stump.
The poll, conducted over two days this week, suggests the perception that BN is depending on postal votes to win the election.
A total of 47 percent of voters felt that BN would be relying on postal votes. There are 13,664 voters in the state constituency, with postal voters making up more than one-third or some 4,600 of the electorate.
According to the harakahdaily.net report, 53 per cent of those polled were Malays, 30.8 percent were Chinese while 12.1 percent Indians. Umno has said it will pick its candidate only after the Hari Raya holidays.
The Bagan Pinang vote is widely expected to end Pakatan Rakyat’s winning streak in all by-elections in the peninsula since last year’s general election due to the high number of postal voters which are traditionally considered a reliable vote bank for the BN.
Nomination for the Bagan Pinang by-election will be on Oct 3 while polling has been set for Oct 11.
The by-election was called following the death on Sept 4 of Umno’s Azman Mohammad Noor, who defeated PAS’s Ramli Ismail by some 2,000 votes last year.
Bagan Pinang is an Umno stronghold situated within the Teluk Kemang parliamentary constituency represented by PKR’s Datuk Kamarul Baharin Abbas.
Apart from Bagan Pinang, Umno also won the neighbouring Linggi state seat in last year’s election, while PR controls three other state seats in Teluk Kemang — Chuah (PKR), Lukut (DAP) and Port Dickson (PKR).