Election flags at Cameron Highlands
Election flags at Cameron Highlands

Analysis : Reasons why Pakatan Harapan lost the Cameron Highlands by-election

Pakatan Harapan’s loss in Cameron Highlands by-election was hardly a surprise to many, but why did they lose ? Here are some of the reasons :

  1. Wrong candidate. DAP picked M. Manogaran thinking Barisan Nasional will field another MIC candidate. Barisan Nasional’s strategy of fielding an Orang Asli candidate was a master stroke. It was a numbers game.
  2. Pakatan Harapan didn’t understand politics. They were still playing opposition in GE14 while they were a government at a by-election. They talked about kleptocracy and 1MDB whereas the locals were mostly from B40 category with more pressing issues such as rise in cost of living and unemployment.
  3. The Chinese dominated DAP showed that they don’t understand the Orang Asli, walking into their homes and insulting them. DAP stalwart Lim Kit Siang even offered to make them “full Malaysians”. The Orang Asli being aboriginal Malaysians did not appreciate it. There were even threats made against Orang Asli leadership that they won’t get paid if they voted Barisan Nasional.
  4. Flouting electoral rules. Pakatan Harapan clearly flouted many electoral rules which irked the voters.
  5. Their candidate, M. Manogaran, wasn’t a local known too many. This doomed their chances further. Ramli on the other hand was a local ex police ranger from the Semai tribe.
  6. The voters were sore over Pakatan Harapan’s dismal performance since GE14 with promises that were not being delivered. With majority of the voters being in the B40 category who would have voted for lower fuel prices in GE14.
  7. Attacking the opposition is never the best strategy. Pakatan Harapan spent enormous amount of time attacking Najib and PAS. Time they could spent talking about the policies.
  8. Barisan Nasional campaign engine was always a well-oiled engine. MCA, MIC and UMNO working together with PAS, there were no bickering, running down people with absolute focus on the task at hand. Something Pakatan Harapan found hard to beat.
  9. The dominance of Chinese majority in DAP is simply not enough to deliver the votes in rural areas as compared to urban areas. Where Bumiputera championship is concerned they are no match for UMNO and PAS. In fact representing Pribumi Mahathir did not touch on this at all but rather choosing to berate Najib.
  10. Pakatan Harapan was arrogant, depending on voter sentiments pre GE14. Nine months thereafter, the voter feeling is different. They did not once specify how they would do better than what Barisan Nasional had delivered to the people, especially the Orang Asli community.

Cameron Highlands is an eye opener for the Pakatan Harapan coalition. As the government of the day, they need to win over the people with clear policies and not resort to blame shifting or “U turns”. After all, it’s easy to oppose than to govern. After nine months being the government, this message needs to get to all levels of their leadership.

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