Musalmah Yusop as Pas candidate: Acceptable and not unusual – Experts

Musalmah Yusop as Pas candidate: Acceptable and not unusual – Experts

Musalmah Yusop as Pas candidate: Acceptable and not unusual - Experts
Musalmah requests that her family be given space to cope with the current situation.

SHAH ALAM – It is perfectly acceptable and not unusual for Musalmah Yusop, the widow of the late Sungai Bakap state assemblyman Nor Zamri Latiff, to be selected as a Pas candidate in the upcoming by-election.

The late Perak Mufti Tan Sri Dr Harussani Zakaria once said that it is permissible for the widow of a former representative to contest in a by-election, even if she is still in her iddah (mourning period), provided she does not leave the house or violate Islamic law.

The practice of parties nominating widows as candidates in by-elections has long been a strategy for political parties in Malaysia, whether Opposition coalitions or the ruling government, to win state assemblies or parliamentary seats.

For example, Barisan Nasional (BN) won a significant majority of 6,573 votes in the Tanjong Datu state assembly by-election in 2017 after nominating Puan Seri Jamilah Anu to defend the seat left by her late husband, former Sarawak Chief Minister Tan Sri Adenan Satem, who passed away due to heart complications at the Sarawak General Hospital Heart Centre (HUS) in Kota Samarahan on January 11, 2017.

Similarly, Datin Mastura Mohd Yazid won by a majority of 6,969 votes in the Kuala Kangsar by-election on June 18, 2016, after being chosen by BN to defend the Kuala Kangsar Parliamentary seat following the death of her husband, Datuk Wan Mohammad Khair-il Anuar, in a helicopter crash in Sebuyau, Sarawak, on May 5, 2016.


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Former Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail also won by a majority of 8,841 votes after being chosen to replace her husband Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the Permatang Pauh Parliamentary by-election in 2015 after the PKR President was sentenced to prison by the court.

However, the son of former Umno Vice President Tan Sri Isa Samad, Mohd Najib, who was chosen as a BN candidate, lost in the contest for the Bagan Pinang state assembly seat, previously held by his father, during the Negeri Sembilan state election last year.


National Professors Council senior fellow Datuk Dr Jeniri Amir stated that the practice of nominating the wife, child, or close relatives of a former representative to contest a state assembly seat or parliamentary seat in a by-election or state election is a common strategy in Malaysian political parties.

He said it is not wrong if Pas wants to nominate the widow of Nor Zamri to contest in the upcoming by-election, as long as she meets the criteria set by the party and is not merely selected to garner sympathy votes.

Jeniri said that Pas should assess Musalmah’s experience, capability, and actual ability to lead the party and serve the voters in the Sungai Bakap state assembly seat.

“I believe the issue of Musalmah still being in iddah (for four months and ten days) following her husband’s death is not a major concern because other people, including close relatives and party machinery, can campaign for her.

“She does not necessarily need to campaign or give speeches herself.


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“Therefore, the iddah period is not a hindrance, obstacle, or reason to prevent her from becoming a Pas candidate in the Sungai Bakap state assembly by-election,” he told Sinar when contacted.

Jeniri stressed that nominating the wife of a former assemblyman also gives Pas an advantage if Nor Zamri had a good service record and was well-liked by the local residents.

“If Nor Zamri was an assemblyman with a good service record, then his contributions will always be remembered by the local residents, who may subsequently choose his widow as their representative in the upcoming by-election,” he said.


Universiti Malaysia Terengganu’s literacy and political advocacy unit research fellow Associate Professor Dr Mohd Yusri Ibrahim said that it is not wrong for Pas to nominate Musalmah as a candidate in the Sungai Bakap state assembly by-election if she has the qualifications to replace her late husband as a state assemblyman, even though it may seem less appropriate as she is still in her iddah.

“However, if the nomination is based on sentiment to garner sympathy votes and the like, this phenomenon is not suitable for the country’s political climate because election candidates should ideally possess the best leadership to be community leaders and legislative representatives.

“If less qualified candidates are chosen due to emotions and to gain sympathy votes, the true objective of the election, which is to choose a leader, will be missed.

“Moreover, Pas itself has confirmed that Musalmah’s nomination is only speculation, so we cannot yet assume whether it is a party strategy or something else,” he said.

Yusri believes that if the candidate to be nominated has good leadership performance, the nomination would add value to winning, combining factors of performance and sympathy.

However, he said, if the nominated widow needed more leadership skills, the nomination would become a burden and have a negative impact, especially since she cannot participate in campaigning.

Musalmah Yusop as Pas candidate: Acceptable and not unusual – Experts



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