Pakatan Harapan's landslide defeat in the Tanjung Piai by-election could mark the start of the coalition's end but is also a chance for a new beginning, says Johor DAP chief Liew Chin Tong.
"The devastating defeat is either going to be the beginning of the end of the Pakatan Harapan government as we know it or provide us with an opportunity to have a new beginning for the better," he told a thanksgiving dinner for DAP election volunteers in Tanjung Piai today.
"The massive defeat at the Tanjung Piai by-election is a watershed moment for Malaysian politics. It is an earthquake no less.
"We humbly accepted the defeat and respect the democratic decision of the people," he added.
Liew (above) said the Harapan leadership, including the DAP, will conduct a nationwide tour to listen to the views of the grassroots to chart its future direction.
"It is my hope that the listening tour by leaders will result in some forms of a New Deal and a turnaround plan for execution in 2020 to regain public confidence," he said.
However, Liew warned against falling to Umno and PAS' racial narratives during this soul searching process.
"The danger that the Harapan government will face is that there will be views that the coalition is not viable and needs immediate replacement.
"The Umno-PAS coalition will argue that the Muafakat Nasional coalition, with MCA as partner, is a better model than the current government, playing on the antipathy among Malays against DAP. On the other end, MCA will continue to argue that DAP is a sell-out to Bersatu.
"Such racial framing is dangerous and has been proven in the Tanjung Piai by-election that we lost on both Malay and non-Malay fronts and can be broken in the middle," he said.
What Harapan needs, said the senator, is to search for a common purpose.
"We must accept that the democratic uprising on May 9, 2018 means that everyone feels that they have full democratic rights to vote for anyone, and there aren’t fixed deposits for anyone. Almost everyone is a swing voter.
"We need a common Malaysian narrative to assure all ethnic groups that they are not under siege.
"The failure to put forward a coherent Malaysian narrative allows for a suddenly freed opinion world to shape public opinion along with racial frames which resulted in extraordinary anger on both the Malay and non-Malay fronts," he said.
BN, represented by MCA's Wee Jeck Seng, won by a whopping 15,086-vote majority against Harapan's Karmaine Sardini, who is from Bersatu.
Wee garnered 25,466 votes to Karmaine's 10,380 votes.
Harapan only garnered slightly more than a quarter of the vote share, at 26.74 percent. BN secured 65.61 percent of the total valid votes.
Meanwhile, Gerakan's Wendy Subramaniam came in third with 1,707 votes while Berjasa’s Badhrulhisham Abd Aziz bagged 850 votes in fourth place.
Independent candidates Ang Chuan Lock and Faridah Aryani Abd Ghaffar received 380 and 32 votes respectively.
There were 595 rejected votes. The final turnout was 74.5 percent.