The Star online
By WONG CHUN WAI
The Permatang Pauh by-election, a preemptive strike by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim before he is charged, will be used as a referendum of sorts with the sodomy charges the main campaign issue.
DATUK Seri Anwar Ibrahim in Permatang Pauh will contest as a favourite contender when the by-election is held following the decision of his wife, Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, to step down as the Member of Parliament.
His admirers believe it will be a shoo-in for him, with little need for heavy campaigning.
It is a homecoming to his old parliamentary constituency, which he first won as a Barisan Nasional candidate in 1995 with a majority of over 23,000 votes. His opponents then were two featherweights from PAS and DAP.
In 1999, Anwar’s former ally, Datuk Seri Dr Ibrahim Saad, was given the job of challenging Wan Azizah. Despite the anger over Anwar’s jail sentence, the former put up a credible fight and managed to reduce the majority to 9,077.
By 2004, with Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi’s popularity at its height, particularly his call for reforms, Wan Azizah managed to pull through with only a 590-vote majority.
But the March 8 polls was a different story. Wan Azizah’s majority shot up to 13,398 votes while Barisan’s candidate Datuk Dr Pirdaus Ismail managed to garner 16,950 votes.
Going by past results, the Barisan has a base of 14,000 to 17,000 voters while PKR has between 20,000 and 30,000.
In the 2008 elections, Barisan must have lost the Chinese and Indian voters, who could have been depended on previously to deliver their votes.
There were losses in votes from many pro-Barisan Malays voters who favoured the PKR this time as the political tsunami swept the country. [more]