Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir said there was no way his father would campaign for the opposition in the Permatang Pauh and Rompin by-elections.
No doubt Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad is not openly campaigning for Pakatan Rakyat. However, there is such a thing as subtle campaigning, which is what we can see happening.
Dr Mahathir needs not say Pakatan Rakyat is good. All he needs to say is Barisan Nasional is bad. That is good enough and is as good as saying Pakatan rakyat is not bad, meaning good.
A number of political observers -- Wan Saiful Wan Jan of the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs and Oh Ei Sun of the S Rajaratnam School of International Studies included -- have predicted that Barisan Nasional will win in Rompin and Pakatan Rakyat in Permatang Pauh, which means status quo. But if they win with a lesser majority than in 2013 that would be considered a ‘defeat’, or kalah dalam menang, as the Malays would say.
Of course, a win is still a win, even by just one vote. But the win needs to be with an impressive enough majority-vote and not reduced too much from two years ago.
In 2003, Barisan Nasional won Rompin with a 15,000-vote majority and Pakatan Rakyat won Permatang Pauh with a 12,000-vote majority. If Barisan Nasional’s majority is reduced drastically in Rompin while Pakatan Rakyat’s is reduced to below a 10,000-majority in Permatang Pauh, this will be taken as negative development.