Analytical report: PRN 2023 key contested seats and political implications

By Dr Ahmad Zaharuddin Sani Sabri

THE upcoming 2023 state elections (PRN) in Malaysia have drawn significant attention due to several hotly contested seats.

Three seats, in particular, have become focal points of interest and may hold crucial implications for the respective political parties involved. These contested seats are Permatang Pauh, Bayan Lepas, and Tanjung Karang.

1. Permatang Pauh: Symbolic seat and PMX’s legacy

Permatang Pauh stands as a significant seat for Pakatan Harapan (PH) in PRN. This area holds special importance as it is the hometown of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim where his political journey began.

PH’s representative PKR is determined to retain the seat, while Perikatan Nasional (PN) seeks to recapture it.

The seat’s symbolism stems from Anwar’s political roots, making a loss here detrimental to his image and legacy. It could signal that even his hometown does not support him anymore.

The rivalry between PH and PN in Permatang Pauh will likely lead to intense campaigning and heightened emotions, drawing widespread attention during the election.

2. Bayan Lepas: A test for Gerakan and PN’s unity

Gerakan president Datuk Dr Dominic Lau Hoe Chai (third from right) and Muafakat Nasional’s deputy president Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin (second from left)

Bayan Lepas is another fiercely contested seat in PRN. It holds a majority Malay electorate and is crucial for PN. Surprisingly, PN has handed the seat to its ally Gerakan, known for its anti-Islamic policies and criticised by PAS.

The outcome in Bayan Lepas will be a test for Gerakan’s acceptance within the PN and among the Malay-majority electorate. A win for Gerakan may signify a level of approval from the local populace and suggest that they are no longer seen as a threat to Islam.

Conversely, a rejection may prompt Gerakan to reconsider its position within the PN and its approach towards the majority-Malay electorate.

3. Tanjung Karang: UMNO’s tradition and political direction

Tanjung Karang has been an UMNO stronghold synonymous with Tan Sri Noh Omar. Though he is not contesting this time, Noh has delegated his daughter Nurul Syazwani Noh to represent UMNO.

Tan Sri Noh Omar’s daughter, Nurul Syazwani, will be contesting the upcoming state polls under the Bersatu-Perikatan Nasional (PN) banner

This seat holds importance as it serves as a benchmark for UMNO’s popularity and public acceptance of their current direction.

A victory for the UMNO representative will demonstrate support for Noh’s past actions and his stance against the previous UMNO leadership. On the other hand, a loss may raise questions about UMNO’s appeal in the area and the party’s current trajectory.

Implications and conclusion

The PRN presents a crucial moment in Malaysian politics, with several seats becoming focal points of interest.

Moreover, the outcomes of Permatang Pauh, Bayan Lepas and Tanjung Karang will likely influence political dynamics within their respective parties and broader political coalitions. These contested seats can indicate public sentiment towards specific leaders, parties, and ideologies.

They hold the potential to shape the future direction of politics in their regions and even at the national level.

As the election approaches, it is essential for all parties to respect the democratic process and embrace the will of the people.

The media’s and public’s attention to these contested seats will play a significant role in shaping the political landscape for Malaysia in the years to come. – Aug 3, 2023


Dr Ahmad Zaharuddin Sani Sabri is a former director at the Institute of Tun Dr Mahathir Thoughts.

The views expressed are solely of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Focus Malaysia.

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