The outcome of Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections will not cause a change of government. Nonetheless, the two by-elections are said as the two of the most significant by-elections in recent times.
Many believe that UMNO's 'assistance' in fast tracking Hadi Awang’s all-time goal –“Hudud Bill” in the parliament on May 26 was no coincidence but thoughtfully timed for the twin by-elections. Such Bill has sparked unease among Malaysians and has become a key issue in the by-elections.
Not that long ago, it also catalysed the breakup of Pakatan Rakyat. Parti Amanah Negara and Pakatan Harapan were subsequently born. In the face of several challenges, UMNO's move to collaborate with PAS may be the political shrewd move it needs most for its interest and continued dominance.
No one in Malaysia should subscribe to agendas that leverage on racial and religious issues for political gains. Nonetheless, the mutualism between UMNO and PAS can be deemed as an inevitable move as the political sentiment in Malaysia still, to a great extent, places significant weight on race and religion, hence racial and religious agendas are often exploited by certain political parties.
Though unsustainable and undoing of political progression, UMNO can expect to gain from the three cornered fights with PAS’s participation in the by-elections and explore further possibilities on mutual contributions in the future. Such mutualism may become the phenomenon in Malaysia’s political field for many years to come, especially when it comes to preservation of power.
Hence, the victories of Amanah, a party vowed to distinguish itself from PAS, in Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar by-elections are important because, among the short and long term political implications and impact, they will be a good general indication whether the exploitation of religious issue for political gains are acceptable to the voters as Malaysians become more politically awakened.
So, how will the voters of the twin by-elections decide?