After losing Cameron Highlands and Semenyih by elections, the Pakatan Harapan coalition one again lost Rantau by election to Barisan Nasional. Even extensive campaigning by Anwar Ibrahim, one time protege and former deputy prime minister failed to garner support away from Mohamad Hasan, acting UMNO president of Barisan Nasional.
Rantau loss was very significant for Pakatan Harapan. For every vote Pakatan Harapan’s candidate Streram Sinnasamy gained, Mohamad Hasan received two putting him so far ahead of his competition. The other factor was Barisan Nasional saw increased Indian and Chinese support in Rantau, showing that non Malays have lost confidence in Pakatan Harapan in less than one year in office.
Pakatan Harapan’s tried and tired campaigning that involved racist statements and continual talk about Barisan Nasional and Najib didn’t help the candidate. It didn’t help that Pakatan decided to pit a relative novice with poor Bahasa Malaysia against the man who was the former chief minister of Negeri Sembilan. To add insult to injury, Streram didn’t even know that there was a fire station in Rantau promising to build one if he won the by election.
While prime minister Mahathir Mohamad leads the Malay race based party, Pribumi, the Malays themselves have thrown their support behind the UMNO and PAS alliance which saw both parties working closely after decades. There were further anger due to the Chinese dominated party DAP, calling the UMNO PAS alliance as “taliban” in light with the recent New Zealand mosque massacre. Mahathir’s ongoing dispute with the royals especially with the crown prince of Johore saw the Malays rally further behind the UMNO PAS alliance.
The Malaysian public, especially those who believe that the former prime minister Najib Razak was guilty of stealing funds from 1MDB are now disillusioned because there hasn’t been any charges brought on and Najib is walking free after nearly a year. The 1MDB issue was largely played up Pakatan Harapan promising prosecution of Najib for 1MDB should they take office. However there has yet to be any 1MDB related charges to date.
Days before the by election, it was revealed that Najib’s wife Rosmah Mansor did not purchase the pink diamond ring that was also used by Pakatan Harapan, especially DAP in their campaigns. It also didn’t go down well with the public that there were more than one pink diamond. The public increasingly aware that Pakatan Harapan has been unable to substantiate their claims.
A local Chinese businessman quipped “Everything with Pakatan is just claims. From election promises to 1MDB they love to make claims. But apparently they are unable to deliver on those claims.”.
Previously vibrant economy prior to last years general election is now been stalling with the country experiencing first ever deflation in a decade. A few weeks ago it was announced that many electronics factories are shutting down operations or reducing operations.
Malaysians are increasingly aware that Pakatan Harapan doesn’t have the answers. Which itself is not a bad thing. But what angered many was the monumental flip flops, first with ICERD and more recently the Rome Statute which was forced than reversed. The East Coast Railway Link (ECRL) was reintroduced by cutting down many stations but reducing mere 10 billion of the total cost also didn’t win any favours.
Many are speculating that Pakatan Harapan is more than likely to be a one term government. Pakatan Harapan simply hasn’t been practicing what it has been preaching. Cronyism, and nepotism is still there. There are bigger scandal like the Penang Tunnel that is slowly engulfing the coalition and the refusal to address bread and butter issues is likely to seal its demise.