By ZAINAL EPI
The result showed that Umno’s political cooperation with PAS does not scare the Chinese, while at the same strengthened and united the Malays who view the ruling coalition as dominated by DAP.
PAKATAN Harapan (PH) has now got to look back at its drawing board and prioritise people’s welfare and fulfil its general election pledges before the growing dissatisfaction among the rakyat become cancerous.
Barisan Nasional’s (BN) victory in Rantau state seat by-election is no longer just an alarm bell for the ruling coalition to change its ways but more of the reality on the ground as the “rakyat”, in particular the Malays, feel about the current situation concerning their daily bread and butter issues as well as capabilities and integrity of the leaders and its Cabinet members.
The by-election result simply tells the new government to stop blaming the previous government for its failure to fulfill its general election pledges and start focusing on eliminating rising cost of living and address economic issues that matters.
For BN candidate Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan, or fondly known as Tok Mat, who emerged victorious ‘unhurt or unscathed’ despite the heavy shelling on is personal life, he succeeded in relaying the message to the ruling coalition that governing is a serious matter and failure to fulfill the pledges made in last year’s general election is not only serious but reflects the government sincerity and capability.
His victory was not just based on his past performances, integrity and capability when he was the state’s Mentri Besar but also the ability to bring economic progress and equal distribution of the economic cake to the people.
The result shows Tok Mat won in 13 polling districts of not only Malay-majority but mixed population where the Chinese and Indians voted for him except for Bandar Ekar, known to be PH’s bastion.
Even then, this Chinese-majority area showed PH’s support dwindled by nearly 10 percentage points.
The result showed that Umno’s political cooperation with PAS does not scare the Chinese, while at the same strengthened and united the Malays who view the ruling coalition as dominated by DAP, whose policies are seen as chipping away the Malay rights and privileges, downgrading Islam’s position and disrespecting the institution of Rulers.
Other factors people on the street put up that added to BN victories were Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia’s silent boycott of the PH candidate, a show of protest by civil servants as several new policies were seen as downgrading civil servants, running down youth when Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) is now calculated as a mere 27 sen a day, the loss of jobs such as terminating contracts of civil servants, as well as smokers protesting against the smoking ban.
In fact, through BN’s ‘hat trick’ act since the Cameron Highlands parliamentary by-election in January, Umno and PAS’ cooperation has strengthened tremendously and has become the new political equation in the country’s new political landscape accepted by Umno’s partners in Opposition BN — Chinese-based MCA and Indian-based MIC.
This new political equation has morphed into a new “reformasi” in the Malay community where the Malays are now waking up to a new threat — the supposedly DAP-dominated government that is threatening Malay rights, chipping off Islamic fundamentals, and the Institution of Rulers.
Tok Mat’s personality of a leader with integrity and wisdom was indeed the selling point in the just concluded Rantau state seat by-election which attracted the votes of Chinese and Indians besides other factors such as rising cost of living and unfulfilled pledges.
Before the campaign began for the by-election, Malaysians at large already predicted that Tok Mat would retain the seat. When PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim announced Dr S. Streram as PH’s candidate, they already put the majority at around 1,500 votes.
Anwar’s pick was met by silent protest of some in the party leadership. Anwar did not make total use of the party’s efficient election machinery. He did not focus on the targeted voters and Anwar did not have much points to sell Dr Streram as a person.
Dr Streram himself is considered an outsider by the voters who needed Anwar to introduce and sell him to the voters; he had to highlight whatever he had contributed so that voters know he had been around quite a while.
Anwar had lost his stake and this may affect his standing in the party, although no one will challenge him for the party presidency in the next party election.
Tok Mat, on the other hand, may find himself being pushed to take over Umno leadership in the near future where his leadership qualities and strategic mind are considered as valuable assets to Umno in particular and BN in general.
— Malay Mail