PETALING JAYA: Issues related to protecting privileges and advancing rights were the main factors that led to the defeat of Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the Tanjung Piai by-election.
According to political analyst Dr Oh Ei Sun, the Malays were unhappy with what they perceived as the government’s failure to do enough to protect their special status and bumiputra privileges.
On the other hand, the non-Malays, particularly the Chinese, felt disappointed that PH had not done enough to advance their demands for equality.
Oh, who is senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said another factor that worked for Barisan Nasional (BN) was the cooperation between Umno and PAS.
“Together, the two parties obtained more than 75% of the Malay votes in the general election last year but they lost because the votes were split between them,” he told theSun yesterday.
“Now that they are united under Muafakat Nasional, the true strength of their voting bloc was exhibited in Tanjung Piai,” he added.
Combined with the swing in the Chinese votes, BN candidate Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng won with a 15,086-vote majority.
For PH, support from the Chinese dropped to almost half in all major Chinese voting areas, and the coalition lost in all 27 polling districts.
Oh attributed the big show of protest against PH for its “flip-flop” on a number of progressive issues and non-fulfilment of electoral promises.
Merdeka Centre programme director Ibrahim Suffian said the loss signalled that PH could not take non-Malay votes for granted.
“These voters can go out of their way to send a strong protest over their unhappiness with the government,” he said.
He also attributed the loss to other issues within PH, like the open political bickering within the coalition, instituting policies that voters didn’t ask for, such as introducing khat calligraphy in vernacular schools, and increased ethnic posturing that had contributed to a swing among Chinese voters.
However, he said voters were generally quite pragmatic and most of them would look at what the government is supposed to deliver, whether it is in terms of economic benefits or protection of their rights.
Wee garnered 25,466 votes to beat PH’s Karmaine Sardini, who ended the day with 10,380 votes.
Last year, Wee lost to PH’s Datuk Dr Mohd Farid Md Rafik by 524 votes.