MP SPEAKS | There are at least five lessons from the Sungai Kandis by-election. Firstly, it is one of disappointment, that the voter turnout was the historic low of 49.4 percent. But it is not for the reason that Umno leaders are giving to flatter themselves.
Umno Deputy President Mohamad Hassan claimed that the historically low turnout was a sign of protest against the Pakatan Harapan government.
If Mohamad is right, then the Umno candidate Lokman Noor Adam should have been the beneficiary with high Umno and PAS voter turnout in support of him.
But this was not the case. Despite support from PAS leaders, Lokman could only poll 9,585 votes yesterday, although the combined votes polled by the candidates of both BN and PAS in 14th general election was nearly double, at 19,091.
This is a double slap in the face for Najib Abdul Razak who led the Umno campaign in Sungai Kandis and the PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang, who had given his blessing for the Umno/PAS partnership in Sungai Kandis.
GE14 was the occasion when voters made a supreme effort to topple the Umno-BN government which had been in power for over six decades.
In GE14, the voter turnout in Seri Setia was 84 percent, while in Balakong the voter turnout was 87 percent. Harapan will have to ensure a higher voter turnout of at least 70 percent, and not below 50 percent as in Sungai Kandis.
Fighting a losing battle
Second, Umno is fighting a losing battle in resorting to the vicious and toxic politics of race, religion, hate, fear and lies although they are still capable of causing great damage to the very fabric of Malaysian society.
As executive director of Merdeka Center Ibrahim Suffian pointed out, Umno’s inability to draw additional support in the Sungai Kandis by-election underscored the party’s failure to adapt in a changing political reality that has little appetite for the vicious and toxic communal politics – a far cry from a party which for over half a century had enjoyed unwavering Malay majority support to remain in power.
Thirdly, there can be no redemption or salvation for Umno unless it can end its 3D status of denial, delusion and deception. Denial of the reasons for Umno’s rejection by the people in the GE14, delusion that it could continue the status quo as if nothing had happened, and deception that it could continue to say that Najib was the greatest prime minister when he was the worst.
He brought infamy and ignominy to the nation with his monstrous 1MDB corruption and money-laundering scandals turning Malaysia into a global kleptocracy.
Fourthly, the proposed Umno/PAS partnership advocated by Najib and Hadi is an unholy alliance, which is rejected by the rank-and-file of Umno and PAS membership.
The next test for the unholy alliance is the Seri Setia by-election, where BN has announced that it will give way to PAS to reciprocate the support of its leadership in the Sungai Kandis by-election.
I have described this as a poisoned chalice, as in GE14 the BN candidate won 9,878 votes, while the PAS candidate secured 4,563 votes against the winning Harapan candidate, who polled 29,250, with a majority of 19,372.
Will PAS drink the poisoned chalice offered by Umno?
Fifthly, the Sungai Kandis by-election result is one of hope and support for the Harapan government, as a higher percentage of voters, including Malay voters, voted for Pakatan Harapan in the by-election as compared to GE14.
LIM KIT SIANG is the MP for Iskandar Puteri.
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