People pass posters of Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohammad and politician Anwar Ibrahim, who was granted a royal pardon, at a rally in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia May 16, 2018. REUTERS/Lai Seng Sin

PKR president Anwar Ibrahim today said BN’s overwhelming majority in the Tanjung Piai by-election came as a shock.

“The majority obtained by the opposition is a shock and also a message to the entire Pakatan Harapan leadership. We must learn from the by-election results.

“We need to work to instil confidence in the people towards Harapan’s policies by fulfilling our promises,” he said in a statement tonight.

Anwar said Harapan respects the results and congratulated BN’s Wee Jeck Seng on his victory.

Wee won by a whopping 15,086-vote majority by garnering 25,466 votes against Karmaine’s 10,380 votes.

Meanwhile, Johor Harapan, in a separate statement tonight, said the by-election result is a signal from voters which must be viewed seriously.

“Considering the defeat, Harapan needs to return to the drawing board to evaluate the party’s and government’s policy, approach and performance which has contributed to the people’s dissatisfaction,” it said in a statement today.

The statement was jointly signed by Johor Harapan chief Muhyiddin Yassin, Johor PKR chief Ibrahim Syed Noh, Johor Amanah chairperson Aminolhuda Hassan, Johor DAP chief Liew Chin Tong and Johor Bersatu chief Mazlan Bujang.

They also thanked Harapan’s machinery for their hard work and commitment in the by-election.

In the by-election, Gerakan’s Wendy Subramaniam came in third with 1,707 votes while Berjasa’s Badhrulhisham Abd Aziz bagged 850 votes in fourth place.

Independent candidates Ang Chuan Lock and Faridah Aryani Abd Ghaffar received 380 and 32 votes respectively.

There were 565 rejected votes, and the final turnout was 74.5 percent.

The Gerakan, Berjasa and independent candidates lost their deposits.

In the last general election, Wee lost the seat by only 524 votes to Bersatu’s late Md Farid Md Rafik.

Md Farid, who was also a deputy minister, passed away from a heart attack in September, three weeks shy of his 43rd birthday.

Syed Husin calls poll routing referendum on Dr M’s leadership

The Tanjung Piai by-election, which witnessed BN trouncing Pakatan Harapan, is a referendum on Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s leadership, said Syed Husin Ali.

According to the former PKR deputy president, the message is loud and clear.

“The results are clear. The people are disappointed and want to teach Harapan, especially Dr M (a lesson),” he tweeted this evening when it became apparent BN was headed for a landslide win.

Syed Husin also suggested that Mahathir should step down following the electoral debacle.

“He (Mahathir) knows what should be done with immediate effect. Don’t delay it any longer,” he added.

Mahathir personally campaigned for Harapan candidate Karmaine Sardini, speaking at a ceramah in the parliamentary constituency in Johor on Wednesday night.

Yesterday, the prime minister penned a letter to the voters urging them to reject BN candidate Wee Jeck Seng and cautioned them against the racial politics perpetuated by Umno and PAS.

The Harapan candidate is from Bersatu and the former MP Dr Md Farid Md Rafik, whose death led to the by-election, was also from Bersatu.

Mahathir is the founder and chairperson of Bersatu.

In September, Syed Husin excoriated Mahathir for failing to outline a clear transition of power plan and questioned if other Harapan leaders had been stymied by him.

Syed Husin also criticised Mahathir for downplaying his successor’s ability to lead, calling it a betrayal and insult to Harapan.

The prime minister had, during a dialogue session in New York on Thursday, said: “I cannot guarantee that somebody who succeeds me will do well, or maybe not too well.”

In an interview with Malaysiakini later, Syed Husin claimed that Mahathir had reverted to authoritarianism.

“Mahathir has become the old Mahathir, especially in the past few months. Old Mahathir means he is dictatorial or authoritarian,” he said.

His criticism of the premier courted flak from Bersatu Youth chief Syed Saddiq Syed Abdul Rahman as well as Mahathir loyalist Khairuddin Abu Hassan.

Khairuddin claimed that Mahathir’s designated successor, Anwar Ibrahim, was not qualified to helm the nation and warned that the nation could witness a repeat of the 1998 fallout between the two leaders.

Despite the repeated assurances from both Mahathir and Anwar that the succession plan would proceed as promised, speculation had been rife there it might not materialise.

Meanwhile, former de facto law minister Zaid Ibrahim said the Tanjung Piai results did not come as a surprise.

“Tanjung Piai is no surprise. Many voters still think PM is the leader of BN. That is how popular he is,” he tweeted.