Barisan Nasional (BN) trounced Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the just-concluded Tanjung Piai parliamentary by-election by a majority of 15,086 when its candidate Datuk Seri Wee Jeck Seng polled 25,466 votes against Karmaine Sardini’s 10,380.
The overwhelming majority sent a loud and clear message to the government to “buck up or step down” as the voters’ rejection of ruling PH can be interpreted that there is no more tolerance for excuses from national leaders.
Besides the non-delivery of last year’s general election pledges, they are also telling the government to table its future plans and stop blaming the previous government for anything and everything.
Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad failed to stop the “rebellious” voters when he came down for a purported final sweep in the campaign while DAP also failed to comfort its supporters who were “thirsty for blood” after claiming they had been “played out.”
PH went into the campaign not knowing or acknowledging that its candidate is a “has been” politician as far as Malay voters are concerned. He also seemed to be “shy” during the campaign, too “shy” in fact to even meet up and talk to reporters.
Even within his own party — Party Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) — there was opposition to him as a candidate.
While selling a new face is an arduous task, issues plaguing the government such as unfulfilled promises, the rise in the cost of living, the fall in palm oil prices and issues affecting Chinese education added to the burden.
Lack of co-operation among members of the coalition parties where each went its own way, uncoordinated issues presented to voters and Bersatu’s own weakness in not having its own election machinery were also part of the problem.
In short, PH went into the fight without knowing the terrain and strength of BN which its leaders assumed was down and out.
BN, on the other hand, was like a kamikaze jet fighter; after all, they had nothing to lose.
Its election campaign machinery was also well co-ordinated, covering all areas and addressing issues relevant to the locals.