KUALA LUMPUR: Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM) is expected to unveil its youth chief Syed Saddiq Abdul Rahman as its first candidate for the upcoming election, with the 25-year-old set to contest in Muar, Johor.
The announcement will be made tonight (Apr 7) in Muar by the former prime minister himself.
“The first candidate PPBM announces is a youth candidate. I think that shows a very serious commitment in forwarding the youth agenda,” Syed Saddiq told Channel NewsAsia.
He is expected to contest under one of the parties in opposition coalition Pakatan Harapan as PPBM was provisionally dissolved by the Registrar of Societies last Thursday over its alleged failure to provide necessary documents.
Syed Saddiq rates his chances of winning at 50:50.
“(About) 40 to 41 per cent of the voters in Muar are below the age of 40. It is also a mixed seat area,” he noted.
About 64.4 per cent of residents in Muar are Malay, 33.7 per cent Chinese and 1.4 per cent Indian.
According to independent research firm Ilham Centre, voters aged 21 to 29 make up 17.1 per cent of the electorate, and those aged 30 to 38 comprise 22.8 per cent.
Ilham Centre believes that Muar is a “winnable” seat for the opposition.
“The decision to place Syed Saddiq in Muar shows the seat has the potential to be won,” said Hisommudin Bakar, executive director of Ilham Centre.
“Muar is a marginal seat for (ruling coalition) Barisan Nasional,” he added. “With the current wave and high composition of young voters, Muar is among the winnable seats for PPBM.”
HOT-BUTTON ISSUES IN MUAR
While some have expressed doubt about Syed Saddiq’s credibility, given his youth and lack of experience in politics, the former champion debater is unfazed.
“Youths of Malaysia can be change-makers,” he said.
For the past three months, he has been going to Muar to study the needs of the city and he has expressed concern about the “influx of foreign labour” in industries like manufacturing and food and beverage.
“I don’t want to run a very xenophobic tone … there is almost an over-reliance on foreign labour,” said Syed Saddiq.
“It is not that Malaysians don’t want to do the job. Malaysians do but the problem is, because the wages are simply too low, it becomes almost implausible for them to take up those jobs and live with the increase in the cost of living that has happened here in Malaysia.
“It is unfair to benchmark the average cost of living for a Malaysian family with them (foreign workers).”
BN won 21 out of the 26 parliamentary seats in Johor in 2013 but its dominance is believed to be under threat, with cost of living and corruption issues among the chief concerns of residents.