PAKATAN Harapan (PH) cannot play the race game and still expect to gain the support of all Malaysians, said political analysts.
They told The Malaysian Insight that PH’s loss of both Malay and non-Malay support was a clear sign it could not act contradictorily and expect to win.
“PH cannot the play the same ethno-religious game as Umno-PAS to court the Malay vote while hoping to retain a high level of support from the non-Malays,” said Dr Azmil Tayeb of Universiti Sains Malaysia.
PH suffered the worst by-election defeat in history when it lost the Tanjung Piai contest by 15,086 votes after winning the seat by a 524-vote margin in the general election just 18 months ago.
At the end of the day, Barisan Nasional’s Wee Jeck Seng finished with 25,466 votes to PH’s Karmaine Sardini’s 10,380 votes in a six-corner contest.
PH was roundly defeated in all 27 voting stations in Tanjung Piai after winning in 11 in GE14. It lost almost all of the voting streams.
It was a crushing follow up to PH’s loss of the Semenyih state seat by 1,914 votes in March after winning the seat by 8,964 votes in GE14.
International Islamic University Malaysia’s Dr Lau Zhe Wei said the result was expected as Wee was the better candidate.
“Generally when Malaysians vote, they vote for the party. However, there are exceptional scenarios where the personality of a candidate can affect the results.
“Wee has a great track record in Tanjung Piai,” said the political science lecturer.
Azmil said the result should signal danger to PH.
“For non-Malay voters in Tanjung who are not happy with PH, the choice is either to sit out the by-election or vote for the BN candidate – the lesser of two evils.
“If the BN candidate had been a Malay, many non-Malays would have chosen to give this by-election a pass.
“Having a non-Malay candidate has perhaps made BN more palatable to non-Malay voters as evidenced by the higher than expected turnout.”
Azmil reasoned that a low turnout would likely mean the non-Malays had decided to sit out the election, which was not the case.
But with a high turnout it also meant that Chinese voters wanted to punish Pakatan, said Azmil.
“The Chinese voters are perhaps unhappy with Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng’s decision to cut allocation to TAR College as a way to wrest control from MCA.
“So it’s more than just grievances over the ethno-religious politics played by PH, in particular Bersatu.”
Lau said Malaysian politics was about balancing the interests of different communities.
He said the recent feud between DAP and Bersatu had also upset voters.
“Furthermore, DAP did not really go all out to campaign for the (PH) candidate.”
THE MALAYSIAN INSIGHT