Pakatan predicts up to 5,000 majority in Hulu Selangor

By G. Manimaran (Malaysian Insider)
HULU SELANGOR, April 21 — Cautious optimism by Pakatan Rakyat (PR) leaders has given way to early predictions of a 3,000 to 5,000-vote win for the pact in this Sunday’s Hulu Selangor by-election.
Although they only scraped through with a 198 votes majority in Election 2008, PR officials — particularly those from PKR — are confident that their candidate Datuk Zaid Ibrahim will score higher with the 64,500 voters in the federal seat.
“Taking into account the effort we’ve put in, not only during the campaign but also from before, I am sure we can defend the seat with a greater majority.
“I put it at around 5,000 (votes)… I am optimistic of this number. I have been on the ground and have met with the grassroots… I know the current situation,” Selangor PKR’s election director, Abdullah Sani Abdul Hamid told The Malaysian Insider.
The party had formed a secretariat a year ago to continue servicing the constituents here, after incumbent Datuk Dr Zainal Abidin Ahmad fell ill. He died from brain cancer last month, triggering the country’s 10th by-election.
“We made the estimate based on five, six current factors,” Abdullah said, in reference to the PR-led state government’s efforts to win the people over through its various socio-economic programmes.
“The people can see what the Selangor government has managed to achieve since two years ago,” he explained.
PR might have won the Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat during the political tsunami in 2008, but is still considered a Barisan Nasional (BN) bastion, after the ruling coalition swept all three state seats up for grabs.
Beyond the initial turmoil when BN was struck by in-fighting as MIC and Umno clashed in the choice of the candidate for the by-election, Abdullah Sani also feels that PR has managed a breakthrough with the Orang Asli population here, which has been traditionally loyal to the ruling federal government
The Orang Asli settlements, among them Kampung Serigala and Changkat Bingtaing, gave their support unanimously to BN in the previous vote.
Abdullah also believed that the withdrawal of the two independent candidates, Johan Mohd Diah and VS Chandran, would not hinder Zaid’s chances of victory,
“No. Their decision can turn out to be in our favour,” he said.
PAS had also yesterday committed the bulk of its machinery towards the PR effort here, promising “60 per cent” of its resources for the campaign.
Still, not everyone feels PKR and Zaid will have an easy road ahead.
Two days ago, Pasir Mas independent MP, Datuk Ibrahim Ali, predicted that BN will reclaim the seat by a margin of over 3,000 votes.
DAP stalwart, Lim Kit Siang, has also cautioned against over-confidence, pointing out that BN had secured all three state seats with a combined majority of around 6,000 votes but had only lost out on the federal spot by just 198.
Meanwhile, another PKR officer estimated that his party will retain the seat by 3,000 votes.
“3,000 is a safe number, we (Pakatan) are sure to win it,” he said, choosing to remain anonymous.
“One reason why the voters want a Pakatan representative is to build bridges with the state government,” he claimed, without denying the contributing factor of BN’s own problems towards a possible PR victory.