It is 8 April, the day after a historic 3 simultaneous by-elections in Malaysia – Batang Ai, Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau. This has never happened before but these by-elections were specially timed to be after the Umno Presidential Election that saw Najib take over the helm of Umno and shortly thereafter as the new PM of Malaysia.
At the end of yesterday, we saw the obvious happening again. Pakatan Rakyat took the 2 Peninsular Malaysia by-election seats while Barisan Nasional retained their Sarawak seat. This was expected given the growing sentiments in West Malaysia while Pakatan Rakyat was attempting to score a first beach head in Sarawak which they failed.
So what should we think about the results?
The West Malaysia so-called tsunami turning for Pakatan Rakyat appears to be not a flash in the pan but a definite and solid pro-Opposition sentiments. The GE 2008 results that gave Pakatan Rakyat control of 5 states in West Malaysia was not a mere fickle mindedness of the electorate. It is a clear sign that Barisan Nasional must re-invent themselves to address this change or face certain loss in the next General Election.
This seems to continue from the Pematang Pauh and the Kuala Terengganu by-election losses by BN.
There are a few more thoughts to this trend given the new by-election results.
1. No significant impact on Najib taking charge
The timing was for Najib to be the leader. The expected results were a definite win. The actual results reflect the people’s choice. Najib’s taking charge at this time bore little impact on the by-election and may reflect a sentiment of rejection although there may be a far reaching implication on even Samy Vellu and Muhyiddin amongst the BN leadership in the recent campaigns.
2. No impact with Tun M campaigning
The timing of Tun M returning to Umno after the end of the recently concluded Assembly stole Pak Lah’s thunder. Soon Tun M went to campaign in the 2 Bukits with other BN leaders to garner votes for the MIC and Umno candidates. The result is little to no impact seen. There may be respect for Tun M but the electorate had other intents. It is not about an individual.
3. Acceptance of Nizar remains strong and growing
This win for Nizar shows that he remains wanted and held in high regards. This is something for Zambry and Najib to take note of. The Perakians are fed up with the usurping of power with questionable points on the state constitution. The best thing remains to either seek a vote of no confidence on Nizar or a vote of confidence for Zambry or collectively seek to dissolve the state parliament and return to the people for a clear mandate.
4. PKR in Kedah remains strong
MIC lost big time in this by-election signally the time is up for Samy Vellu. He had personally gone to Bukit Selambau to campaign for the candidate he picked and lost with a bigger margin. Even Tun M can’t change the tidal wave of dissatisfaction on BN this time. And also at a time where the rumors are rife of a Pakatan Rakyat tremor in Kedah is now strengthened by this win.
5. Possible warning signs to Najib in his handling of Perak with Bukit Gantang loss
There are far reaching implication when Nizar won his seat in Bukit Gantang. It was positioned with Nizar as the ousted by questionable means MB verses Najib and Zambry who orchestred the questionable actions. This win represents the people’s dissatisfaction with the Perak Parliament situation and perhaps also reflect an overture to BN to restore the public’s confidence in Perak before the dissatisfaction overflows to all states.
6. The Tun M factor is over played, over expected and under delivered
Tun M was used immediately in Bukit Gantang and Bukit Selambau to rally a possible flailing support to BN. Perhaps, it is unfair to say that Tun M had no impact. BN probably recovered but too little, too late.
7. Sarawak remains in Taib control, the stronghold of BN
If Pakatan Rakyat intends to gain in-roads into Sarawak, it is apparent in this loss to seriously consider some form of inspirational partnership with Taib. Sarawak delivered again and again in each of the General Elections, especially in GE 2008. Without Sarawak, BN will have been left in the cold.
Sarawak is not West Malaysia, their sentiments and thinking is totally different. Pakatan Rakyat has again underestimated the Taib influence in this rich state. The people in Sarawak needs the government in power to deliver more reform and progress as a large part of Sarawak is still behind the rest of Malaysia. In West Malaysia, the states have largely progressed and a sentiment of opposing the establishment is far stronger. GE 2008 has shown that hand. BN must take note and continue to protect the Sarawak stronghold.
None of these are surprising. As an after the result armchair observer, these thoughts are reverberating in the minds of all Malaysians, many wondering if Najib is truly going to bring the change required to bolster the Malaysian economy but with the recent loss in the by-elections, this remains to be seen.
Najib’s entry rhetorics as for a One Malaysia, People First, Performance Now are wishful statements that all Malaysians anxiously hope to be a reality. If this loss reflects the disenchantment of empty rhetorics, it is important that Najib quickly put into motion key actions that reflect his rallying call.
There is not much time left to show that our new PM means what he says about creating a One Malaysia, putting People First and engaging Performance Now.
And for the Pakatan States, perhaps they can up the ante by making One Malaysia, People First and Performance Now a reality first and show the way!
Now, less talk, more action! The country needs help badly!