Pematang Pauh Watershed Analysis

Pematang Pauh – The dirtiest and most hard fought by-election or any election for that matter is over.  BN threw everything they had at Anwar.  Of course, these are considered allegations by BN as they have categorically denied setting up Saiful for Anwar’s fall, the police report, the swearing as well as the continuous showing of the Saiful swearing during BN’s campaign although they had felt that it wasn’t in their best interest to capitalize on it.  Somehow, the entire BN bandwagon jumped on the Saiful swearing and allowed Anwar to beat Arif Shah by 2,273 more votes than Wan Azizah did in March 2008.

So why did BN lose?

Arif Shah felt that it wasn’t a loss (read here).  He felt consoled that Pematang Pauh still gave them 15,000 votes.  I wonder when would he consider a loss.  He felt that the voters fell for the Opposition’s propaganda, promises and innuendoes.

It is clear that BN thinks that they didn’t do as good a job in their own propaganda, promises and innuendoes.  In fact, all the clarity of their propaganda, promises and innuendoes were clearly seen through by the voters.  That would be a more appropriate conclusion but the BN still refuses to accept the reality that their stand had no substance, just straight character smearing and taking the voters a fool with the promises of allocations to their schools if BN was voted in and promises of issuing license for scrap metal to the Indians there.

It is also clear that the voters in Pematang Pauh are representative of all mature Malaysians who voted in the March GE12.  None of the issues that the voters were concerned then were actually addressed in this by-election.  BN just stuck to their cheap pot shots at Anwar.

On the other hand, Anwar played his cards professionally by not doing a tit-for-tat smearing but refuting all the sandiwara of the sodomy allegations as well as the Saiful Swearing act.  Furthermore, Anwar stuck by his guns on the economy and the rhetoric of a national march to Putrajaya, something that the voters can relate to contrary to the BN analysis.

The BN and PKR played opposing strategies in this by-election.  BN with their character assassination strategy and PKR with their new governance and economic strategies.  Obviously, the thing that bothers voters in Pematang Pauh also bothered the entire country during the March GE12.  Even more so now when inflation has soared and affected all Malaysians, yet the BN harped on sodomy charges and Saiful swearing.

In a nutshell, the cheap shots by BN and the shallow thinking together with a lack of appreciation of what the voters (read all Malaysian) want became the downfall of BN here.

Why did PKR win?

It is obvious that what Anwar stood for was what the voters voted for.  All parties, Keadilan, DAP and PAS, all played their various strengths together, both perceived and seen.  They all supported the candidate clearly and without a doubt too.  Although the BN tried to portray the PR as a loose coalition, the clear position articulated by each of the PR parties came ringing through.

PR did not smear Arif Shah.  Character assassination is construed as a lame strategy, particularly taken by desperate measures when there’s nothing left to attack with.  It appeared that the voters did not appreciate such smearing as it is NOT Malaysian.  We don’t go round washing alleged dirty linens in public.  I think the voters punished BN for a lack of flair in more important matters like the economy and inflation management.  Of course, the scrutiny of Arif Shah can’t be avoided and his withdrawing from pursuing his PhD was to his embarassment when it was discovered that the university he was said to pursue that post graduate degree was in fact not recognized.  Furthermore, the question of his qualifying for a PhD course anywhere was something of a concern about his own character but was his own doing (read here for his explanation).  Furthermore, his confidence of Seberang Jaya was misguided as today’s polling showed that he was trounced there by Anwar.

Perhaps, Arif Shah may not have been the best candidate to face Anwar after all.  Certainly, from hind sight, the analysis shows that Arif Shah had nothing to fight Anwar with on all fronts.

Nothing can stop the win?

Arif Shah trying to sound positive and bold on his winning chances growing by the day didn’t cause many people to laugh at his feeble attempt to look good during the campaign period.  Every Malaysian knew and saw that the BN pulled all stops and threw everything they can at Anwar.  BN focused on Anwar.  Anwar focused on the economy.  It’s back to the basics for Malaysians.  This by-election couldn’t have gone the other way from the get go!

Everything BN did was wrong.  Never look down on the voters.  Never make them look and sound stupid and desperate.  Voters are real Malaysians who feel and experience all the pain created by poor economic policies and execution of those policies made things even worse.

The inflation index at 8.5% in July announced last Friday didn’t help the BN cause at all.  The reversal of Pak Lah’s announcing a petrol price drop for Saturday instead of 31 August did more harm than good to BN.  Worse still is when Pak Lah is forced to increase the petrol price if the oil prices rise again. The oil price was US$116.81 on 26 August and oil prices will still fluctuate.

I think if BN focused on economic strategies to counter Anwar, address the issues which hurts the voters (and Malaysians), refrain from taking desperate cheap shots as originally planned, BN can still have a chance to turn the tide in Pematang Pauh.  I didn’t think that BN had a lost cause to begin with. But as we have it, BN did all the opposites.  BN lost yet another golden opportunity to show the voters and all Malaysians that they had what it takes to regain our confidence.

Alas, now history today has shown again that Malaysians are pragmatic and mature people, bold to stand up to be counted and to voice out at the ballot boxes on real issues that we feel everyday.  Malaysians in Pematang Pauh has resounded the GE12 frustrations yet again but the BN is still putting on a deaf ear, ignoring the stark realities of their failures and coming up with excuses blaming everybody except themselves.

Do you think that the BN thinks the problem is still with the Opposition, that the problem of the loss is because of Anwar and not because BN has yet to wakeup to the realities of a changed landscape and a grown up mature Malaysians?

You have the answer and I know that for a fact!  After all, we are all Malaysians regardless of what some parties would have us believe otherwise. 😉


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