KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 3 – The Port Dickson parliamentary by-election is now shaping up to be an Umno-PKR-PAS fight by default with members of the former ruling party coming out in support of their former chief Isa Samad.
This would nor surprise many political observers who believe that despite the announcement by Umno President Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi that the party was boycotting the by-election, there would be efforts by party members to actively campaign should there be a credible candidate to challenge Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.
The Port Dickson UMNO grassroots leaders are now campaigning for Isa, who was also former Negeri Sembilan menteri besar, defying the party’s ban on members canvassing for any candidate in the by-election there, The Malaysian Insight reported.
Isa quit Umno last week, announcing that he was doing so to contest in the by-election with Umno opting not put up a candidate.
Repaying Isa for service as MB
Following his nomination on Saturday, nearly half of Umno’s 53 branches in this resort town are said to have come out to canvass for Isa.
According to the news portal, some of them are sponsoring small and intimate “information sharing” gatherings. They say they are doing so to repay what Isa had done for them for 22 years when he was Negri Sembilan MB from 1982 to 2004.
“Tonight, we are ‘taking off’ our Umno shirt. No Umno tonight. We are free to help our candidate, the independent candidate.
“When Umno boycotted the election, it means we are free (to help Isa),” one branch chief was quoted as saying by TMI.
“We are not opposed to Umno or fighting the Barisan Nasional. We are only opposed to PAS and PKR.
“We want to help the man who had contributed so much to us, ” he added.
“If Umno wants to take disciplinary action against us, by all means. It’s just not right that we who have already received so much, would leave Tan Sri Isa on his own,” another branch chief told TMI.
The majority of the 40 or so people at the gathering were women, believed to be Umno members.
“I can assure you that right here in front of me is our district election machinery,” the branch chief, who refused to reveal his identity, said pointing to the women, TMI reported.
Isa is only local candidate
Meanwhile, Malaysiakini reported Isa as feeling confident of his chances because he is the only one from PD.
In his political career spanning four decades, Isa has spent most of it as the Linggi assemblyperson and later the Bagan Pinang assemblyperson. Both these state seats are under the Port Dickson parliamentary constituency.
“I offer the people of Port Dickson good service. I have served this community for nearly 40 years.
“I have not left Port Dickson, so my relationship (with Port Dickson) still exists and I believe I will continue with this leadership style,” Isa was quoted as saying by the news portal.
7 candidates, including Anwar accuser Saiful Bahari
The Port Dickson parliamentary by-election was called after the former MP Danyal Balagopal Abdullah, a retired navy admiral, resigned to allow for a contest that was meant to allow Anwar the chance to return to the Dewan Rakyat.
The by-election, that will take place on October 13, will see seven candidates face off.
PAS is strategically fielding a retired Lieutenant Colonel of the Royal Malaysian Air Force, Mohd Nazari Mokhtar, to capitalise on the large number of military voters in the constituency.
The other four candidates are all independents, with the most prominent being Saiful Bahari, Anwar’s former aide who had accused Anwar of sodomising him in 2008.
The other independent candidates are Stevie Chan Keng Leong, Lau Seck Yan and Kan Chee Yuen.