KUALA LUMPUR - Umno-led Barisan Nasional (BN) will boycott the Port Dickson by-election, which is being called after a Member of Parliament from ruling coalition Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) controversially stepped down to allow its president-elect Anwar Ibrahim to contest the seat.
Umno president Ahmad Zahid Hamidi said on Monday (Sept 24) that BN, a three-party coalition led by Umno, made the decision to skip the by-election after a meeting of its leaders.
"We see that a seat was vacated to fulfill the political ambitions of one person... We take the stand that Barisan Nasional would protest this Port Dickson by-election," Datuk Seri Zahid told reporters.
"This means we won't field any candidate from our component parties."
Umno is the biggest opposition party in Malaysia, with 49 seats in the federal Parliament.
The other major opposition faction, Parti Islam SeMalaysia, with 18 MPs, had also indicated that it might not contest the by-election in the Negeri Sembilan state.
Ruling pact Pakatan Harapan (PH) is fielding Datuk Seri Anwar after its incumbent MP Danyal Balagopal Abdullah stepped down as lawmaker. PKR, the dominant party in PH, will have 50 MPs in Parliament if Mr Anwar wins in Port Dickson.
Mr Anwar is widely expected to win the semi-urban seat but factors such as voter turnout and Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad stumping for him will determine if the charismatic politician has the all-round support to be Malaysia's next leader .
This will mark Mr Anwar's political comeback after a three-year hiatus having served time in prison prior to receiving a royal pardon in May, following PH's victory at the general election.
The Port Dickson polls are still expected to go ahead even if both Umno and PAS were to stay out. This is because Parti Rakyat Malaysia, a party without any seats in Parliament or in any of the 13 state assemblies, has said it will be fielding a candidate. Independent candidate Stevie Chan Keng Leong has also announced he will run in the by-election.
Nomination Day for the by-election is Sept 29, with voting taking place on Oct 13.