Two by elections to watch out for this year would be Rantau and Cameron Highlands. Both Barisan Nasional seats were invalidated late last year by Special Election Court.

The Rantau by election reversed the undisputed win of Datuk Seri Utama Mohammad Hassan (known as Tok Mat) a local favourite. Tok Mat is currently the acting UMNO president has held the Rantau seat since 2004.

Rantau win is important to Tok Mat for two reasons. One to cement his leadership as the acting UMNO president and will give wait to his future decisions. Second, winning Rantau would give UMNO the credibility it sorely needs. At a time the Pakatan Harapan Government is seen backtracking their every decision this would give UMNO some serious punching weight.

Tok Mat too isn’t your run of the mill UMNO politician. For one he is from the private sector and worked his way up the ranks before joining UMNO. He doesn’t have the skeletons in the closet that seems the norm for his comrades.

He is well liked in Rantau and seen as a soft spoken strong personality that is another not your typical UMNO politician who is seen as arrogant.

The Cameron Highlands seat too was previously held by Barisan Nasional’s MIC. A win here would not only boost Barisan Nasional’s image it will also show that the relationship between the party core members are strong.

It is expected that Mahathir’s Pribumi and Lim Kit Siang from the Chinese dominated DAP will

be hard at work to swing votes towards Pakatan Harapan. A loss in either of these seats will not reflect well on the coalition, especially on Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad. The elder statesman has been struggling to hold together the fragile partnership of late.

So all eyes will be on these by elections which may point to the direction of both Pakatan Harapan and Barisan Nasional.

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