By Aathi Shankar
THE 16th American President Abraham Lincoln (1861–1865) once famously said: “You can fool all the people some of the time, and some of the people all the time, but you cannot fool all the people all the time.”
Barisan Nasional’s stunning win in yesterday’s Tanjung Piai by-election has sent that message to the ruling Pakatan Harapan (PH) regime, which comprises DAP, PKR, PPBM and PAN.
PH’s devastating defeat has sent a clear public signal that the people can no longer be fooled with empty promises and the routine blame game on previous BN federal government to conceal own incompetence and accountability.
In the by-election, BN candidate Wee Jeck Seng from MCA pocketed 25,466 votes against nearest rival, PH’s Karmaine Sardini from Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (PPBM or Bersatu), who could only manage 10,380 votes.
Jeck Seng’s thumping majority of 15,086 votes had sent PH crashing down to earth in just nearly 18 months after coming to power in the 14th General Election (GE14).
This is the fourth by-election victory for BN out of the nine held in the country since GE14, and the fourth straight opposition win in Peninsular after victories in Cameron Highlands, Semenyih and Rantau.
Some 74.43% or 38,815 of Tanjung Piai’s registered 53,528 voters turned up to cast their ballot papers on Saturday, November 16.
Wee easily recaptured his seat with 65.60% votes in the six-cornered fight while Karmaine received only 26.74% votes.
All the other four candidates – Gerakan’s Wendy Subramaniam (1,707 votes), Berjasa’s Datuk Dr Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz (850 votes), and Independents, Faridah Aryani Abd Ghani (380 votes) and Dr Ang Chuan Lock (32 votes), lost their election deposits.
Certain so-called political pundits, who are either pro-Pakatan or pro-DAP or pro-PKR, have all claimed that Jeck Seng’ victory was a big tight slap on Mahathir’s face.
They claimed that Mahathir’s racist political bigotry caused PH-PPBM humiliating defeat, pointing their fingers mainly at issues of fugitive Indian Muslim preacher Zakir Naik, Khat Jawi writing, Malay Dignity Congress the government’s non-recognition of the Chinese schools’ Unified Examination Certificate (UEC) .
They are pinning all blame on Mahathir’s “misrule” since May 2018 over PH’s defeat and BN’s victory.
It’s easy to play the blame game given that the constituency comprises 57% Malays, 42% Chinese and 1% Indians.
The by-election was triggered after the incumbent, Md Farid Md Rafik of PPBM party, died of heart complications.
In GE14, Farid secured 21,255 votes, while Jeck Seng got 20,731 votes to win with a slim 524-vote majority despite widespread public anger and hatred against then-incumbent BN federal government over the 1MDB scandal and unpopular goods and services tax (GST).
In GE14, Farid is said to have secured 74% or 15,728 of his votes from the Chinese voters’ community with remaining 5,527 or 26% votes coming from Malay and Indian voters.
This time Malays and Chinese have overwhelmingly voted for BN.
BN had won in all 27 polling stations and 124 out of 125 polling streams in the by-election.
It was indeed an emphatic BN win.
The huge win for the opposition cannot be pinned down on just one man – Mahathir, as to how certain PH leaders and so-called analysts tried to insinuate.
Utter gibberish is it not.
These unscrupulous leaders and pro-PH analysts are shirking the coalition’s collective responsibilities, something which the current ruling regime failed to display to the people since coming to power.
They are also trying to deny the due credits to BN’s choice of candidate and campaign strategy.
For near past 18 months, PH regime is yet to do anything right, be it in economic, finances, education, environment, industrial, agricultural, welfare, national unity, education, infrastructure or even foreign policies.
PH ministers, their deputies and other political officials have collective responsibilities to draft and implement the correct policies for the people.
They must take responsibility and be accountable for PH’s failures, rather than pinning all blames on Mahathir.
The people are unhappy with PH on virtually everything, which is amazing considering how the people rejoiced and welcomed the ouster of BN in GE14 just some 18 months ago.
The truth is PH is yet to put its act together as a united and progressive coalition.
They are being besieged by a political power struggle, notably between Mahathir and his arch-rival Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, the PKR president.
The prolonged political infighting, although a feast for media, is not good for the country’s economic progress.
Due to the political instability, foreign investors are reportedly not showing any interest to pump their capitals to boost businesses in Malaysia.
Don’t forget about the ringgit free fall and the ever-rising cost of living.
PH leaders and elected representatives have a collective responsibility to correct all these and deliver the goods to people.
They cannot go on blaming one man or the past federal government to conceal their own failures to evade accountability.
Time for all PH leaders and elected representatives to realise that the people demand deliverance for their betterment.
They are fed up with PH’s routine Najib-Rosmah, 1MDB, racial and blame games.
BN has shown that the coalition, consisting of Umno, MCA and MIC, was always a collective unit swimming and sinking together at all times.
BN’s cooperation with Islamist party, PAS, has also impressed the people that it was potentially a united and progressive political block that can work for the betterment of the nation.
The significant part of BN’s Tanjung Piai victory is that the Chinese voters had voted for MCA.
By no means that Chinese had finally returned to BN’s fold.
But at least it will be a good start for BN to recapture the lost Chinese electoral grounds.
Umno and PAS leaders, and also their supporters and cyber troopers, for instance, should stop their rhetoric speeches and statements, which were perceived as “racist and religious extremism” by non-Muslims.
That would help MCA and MIC to recapture their lost respective community electoral grounds and regain the confidence of non-Muslims.
If BN-PAS combo can work together as a collective, constructive and competent unit, the people from all races and religions will see them as a formidable and viable alternate political block.
Tanjung Piai by-election victory will not be wasted.
It can be the catalyst to launch a united and progressive political block that should also include native parties from Sabah and Sarawak.
Potentially, Tanjung Piai can power BN and its political allies back to Putrajaya in GE15.