Just had a chat with a grassroots campaigner from Pas, who spent a couple of days in the outlying areas of Hulu Selangor.
He said Pakatan faces an uphill task in the remaining days of the campaign. At this point, he thinks Barisan has the edge among the kampung voters and, if things remain as they are, he feels the BN could clinch victory.
Contrary to perception, he claimed Pas has the most human resources and machinery on the ground among the Pakatan parties. He estimated that of the total Pakatan machinery in Hulu Selangor, Pas alone accounted for 80 per cent. “We are mostly in the outlying and rural areas and the kampungs, whereas the other parties tend to focus in the more accessible areas.”
The kampung folk rely a lot on mainstream media propaganda, he noted. “They have been bombarded with such stuff and it’s difficult to sway them.” Some of them have also been taken up by Najib’s talk of revamping the economy, and the personal attacks on Zaid “may” sway some voters.
He believes each side now has about 30 per cent of hardcore kampung voters in the bag. Much will depend on how Umno and Pakatan influence the fence-sitters.
A DAP campaigner, on the other hand, was a bit more sanguine: “I think we can do it. But margin not big.” Similarly, blog readers like Karma and O, who seem familiar with the ground, share that optimism. See Citizens’ Intelligence reports here.
Much is at stake. “If PKR loses this time, it means several things,” observes a political analyst. “Among them that there can be no change unless the structural contradictions of the BN system are allowed to unravel by themselves.” Meaning, Pakatan will have to hope that the BN or Umno implodes.
If Najib is overtaken by Muhyiddin, then the decline may come faster as the BN can only move further to the ‘right’ as a result, he adds. A defeat for Zaid would mean PKR would have run its course and the party may find it difficult to pick up the pieces especially in the aftermath of all those defections.
On the other hand, a BN defeat would spell trouble for the BN system of power-sharing. It would suggest that support for the component parties (apart from Umno) and the seat-sharing formula has collapsed and MCA and MIC candidates would in future be hard-pressed to win in other seats. Worse for the two parties, Umno may even lay claim on some of their traditional seats. It would also be a psychological blow ahead of the Sibu by-election.
So a lot to play for. Even though – regretfully, specific issues that matter do not appear to have been fore-fronted in this campaign, this by-election has implications that will extend well beyond Hulu Selangor.