Just when you thought it was safe to take a break from by-elections, another one is in the air – in the Penang state assembly seat of Penanti, which falls within Anwar’s parliamentary constituency of Permatang Pauh.
This follows the reported resignation of Penang Deputy Chief Minister Fairus from his state assembly seat.
On paper, Penanti should a fairly safe seat for the PKR if they don’t mess up big time – though the BN is sure to highlight the issues surrounding his resignation. In the 2008 general election, Fairus trounced his Umno rival by a 7,346 to 5,127 scoreline. The idllyic semi-rural area is predominantly Malay (73 per cent) with the remainder mostly Chinese.
If you are suffering from by-election fatigue, consider the PKR leaders. They have been involved in campaigns for three by-elections since 8 March, diverting their attention from the governance of the states they have been entrusted with.
PKR is obviously hoping to put the unhappy Fairus saga, which has been a source of embarrassment for the party, behind it; it is anxious to come up with a candidate that would put the party in a more favourable light in the state government leadership. One person being talked about as a possible candidate is Penang PKR former chief Dr Mansor Othman.
At first glance, much is at stake: the position of Deputy Chief Minister I in Penang, which apparently has been “reserved” for a PKR candidate, under the Pakatan’s power-sharing arrangement.
But then again, to what extent will a new deputy CM affect the ordinary lives of Penangites, who are already feeling the effects of a slump in demand for its electronics exports?
What is needed is a radical reorientation of the state’s development framework to make it more sustainable and self-reliant with an increased focus on food security and affordable housing.