Pas, on its own, has never won a single seat in the state legislative assembly since the first election was held in 1955.
A Pas candidate won the Sungai Udang seat in 1974, when the party was a component of the ruling Barisan Nasional. This victory, 36 yeas ago, was by no means based on Pas' own strength.
By most counts too, the popularity of Malacca Chief Minister Datuk Mohd Ali Rustam is why BN will have an easy time retaining the seat in the by-election, even if it turns out to be a multi-cornered fight.
Optimism that BN will retain the seat is bolstered by the results here in the past three general elections. BN won with a majority of 2,252 votes in 1999, 5,087 votes in 2004 and 2,154 votes in 2008.
While between 55 and 77 per cent of non-Malay voters supported Pas candidates in the northern states, it was between 40 and 55 per cent in Malacca. Today, the state BN holds 23 seats (Umno, 18, MCA, four, and MIC, one) while the Pakatan Rakyat opposition has five seats, all DAP.
The date of the by-election will be decided by the Election Commission on Friday.
The battle is likely to be between traditional political foes -- Umno, representing the BN, and Pas, representing the loose opposition coalition Pakatan Rakyat.
Despite what its supporters say, it is unlikely that top Pakatan Rakyat leaders will allow a PKR candidate to contest, even though the Malacca PKR is offering its chief, Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin, who is also PKR national youth chief.
Local PKR leaders say the seat should be given to the party since it had contested there in 2004.
This is based on the understanding between leaders of PKR, Pas and DAP to maintain the status quo of the parties that contested in the last general election.
A PKR source said the party held a special meeting after the death of incumbent Datuk Mohamad Hidhir Abu Hassan, and had decided that PKR would contest in Merlimau.
This was confirmed by Syamsul Iskandar.
"We have decided on the candidate to contest in the Merlimau by-election and the short-list will be sent to our headquarters for the top leaders to discuss and endorse.
"Any decision by our party leadership will then be discussed with our friends from the Pakatan Rakyat coalition. We just have to wait for the outcome of that meeting," he said.
State Pas commissioner Abdul Ghani Abdul Rahman said that Pas would field its candidate for the Merlimau by-election.
Other Pas sources said it was on this understanding that Malacca Pas had sprung into action, activating its machinery and short-listing potential candidates, among them, a woman.
Malacca BN is not taking things lightly. The fight for political control in Malacca has always been between MCA and DAP, but the constantly changing political landscape has made them realise that they cannot take voters for granted.
Umno has also reactivated its machinery, short-listing its candidates for Umno president Datuk Seri Najib Razak's perusal.