The Merdeka Center has pointed to BN's recent showing at the Sungai Kandis by-election, in which it failed to garner enough votes to wrest the seat from Pakatan Harapan, as a sign that perhaps voters are tired of the usual baiting of race-based politics.
In a report by the Malay Mail, its director Ibrahim Suffian said the unconvincing showing in yesterday's by-election, in which Umno's candidate Lokman Noor Adam only secured 9,585 votes, was in stark contrast to the unwavering support of the Malays the party once commanded prior to the 14th general election.
Aside from highlighting the need for greater opposition representation in Harapan-dominated Selangor, BN had focused heavily on race and religion in its campaign, claiming the federal and state government had been sidelining the interests of the Malays and Islam.
“After discounting the lower turnout, the results show PKR’s support has generally remained intact among Sungai Kandis voters.
“BN should go back to the drawing board and figure out their positioning and messaging as they achieved fewer votes now than in GE14,” Ibrahim was quoted saying by the Malay Mail.
BN was, in part, aided by PAS who had opted out of contesting and had instead urged its members and supporters to vote for Lokman to deny Harapan winning in the interests of Islam.
To this, Ibrahim said the small turnout from PAS supporters at the polls indicated a split within its ranks, and that some have rejected the idea of an alliance between the two parties.
He said PKR appeared to have kept the Malay vote share in Sg Kandis, “probably even doing slightly better than the 44 percent of Malay vote share they attained in the GE14.”
Yesterday, Harapan's candidate, religious teacher Mohd Zawawi Ahmad Mughni from PKR, won 15,427 votes, just 5,842 ahead of Lokman. The lower majority was in part due to the abysmal voter turnout of 49.4 percent.
Even so, the results showed that PKR's vote share increased by 5.8 percent from 55.6 percent in GE14 to 61.4 percent yesterday.
Despite its poor showing, where BN failed to equal the 11,518 votes it garnered in GE14, its vote share saw a comparatively larger increase of 11.5 percent, from 26.7 percent in GE14 to 38.2 percent in the by-election.
This is believed to be due to the influence of the PAS leaders in urging its members and supporters to vote BN.