The Ijok by-election will be watched carefully by most political pundits. Ijok is far more indicative of the urban sentiment compared to Machap. Moreover, Selangor, under the leadership of chief minister Mohd. Khir Toyo, received the more (negative) publicity and coverage from the media especially TV3 compared to Malacca.
There are two significant indicators in this by-election. First, it is a barometer of the opposition's strength and the popularity of resurgence PKR advisor Anwar Ibrahim. If PKR were to do well in this by-election, the results will boost the party image and confidence to mount a challenge to capture the state government. UMNO may be forced to take Anwar seriously in the next GE and may opt to call for an early election before April 2008.
PKR's candidate and party treasurer, Khalid Ibrahim, is seen as a chief minister material. It is fair to say that his credentials and experience are more impressive compared to the MIC candidate, K Parthiban, who is the Tanjung Karang Division secretary.
Both are locals of Kuala Selangor. However, the latter is backed by an enormous election machinery and resources of the BN. The by-election is set to become a proxy fight between UMNO and PKR.
Second, a PKR defeat will sorely affect the morale of the opposition in the upcoming GE. Anwar, if still keen to make a political comeback, may have to reconsider his options or to significantly overhaul the strategy of PKR.
It will also be a test for the opposition triangle partnership similar to the one formed in the 1990 GE.