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Are there lessons from Machap? Absolutely. This by-election was not business as usual. While on the surface, Machap was a feather in the cap for the Barisan Nasional (BN), who decisively and unsurprisingly won this by-election in an area that it has dominated for decades, there are interesting and important undercurrents at play.

BN's romp to victory should not be celebrated, nor should the marginal dent that the opposition made in the BN majority. While neither of us were on the ground in this heated by-election, our analysis of the polling station results points to challenges for both BN, especially MCA, and the opposition in future elections.

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