Some sympathetic writers at malaysiakini made much ado about the MCA candidate’s reduced winning majority compared with the previous election – they used the term ‘significant’ to describe it.
For crying out loud, the reduction of the winning majority (still pretty hefty) was not even 500 votes, and the DAP candidate, in comparison to what he obtained in 2004, had gained just an additional 170 votes. Big deal!
Yes, the BN brought its considerable machine to bear on that constituency, and threw (public) millions every which way in the most shameful pork barrelling – there was no doubt that election rules had been compromised but tell me, would the Election Commissioner take any action or even probe that?
That’s the way the BN works and no one’s going to be able to stop its pork barrelling or the alleged dirty tricks campaign. That’s a norm to be expected, except that in a general election, its resources may be stretched a wee more thinly, but so will the opposition’s.
While it was encouraging to see Anwar Ibrahim campaigning for the DAP, and indeed a big crowd was noticed at his rally, the results indicated the same outcome as for Pengkalan Pasir.
In the Kelantan by-election, there was a 10,000 strong crowd at his rally which lent the false impression that he would galvanise the majority of the voters behind PAS. In the end, PAS lost by 134 votes.
I wrote in a previous posting that it seemed the 10,000 crowd at his rally in Pengkalan Pasir had just congregated to hear him more out of curiosity rather than political conviction.
The reality is Anwar has become a mere novelty with just entertainment value for the locals. Some BN personalities even suggested that the crowd was ‘brought’ to Machap by Anwar, what with the unusually extra number of cars and other vehicles seen at the rally.
OK, let's leave Machap as the next scene for a by-election is at Ijok.
There is a feeling that the PKR may field a Malay candidate as the locals are made up of at least 50% Malays while the Indians numbered only around 28%.
However Premesh Chandran, one of the TaiKohs at malaysiakini, opined that the PKR would be better off with an Indian candidate despite the Malay majority. Premesh provided an in-depth analysis that drew upon an earlier Chandra Muzzafar’s analysis for the 2000 Lunas by-election where PKR’s candidate Saifuddin Nasution won with a terrific voters swing against the BN.
Premesh added that an Anwar-led campaign for a PKR Indian candidate, supported by Chinese social and educationist movements, would provide the extra hare-koh (petis udang - zing) in the opposition rojak (spicy salad) for winning over the Malays and the other ethnic voters for a PKR victory.
But consider the lack of change in the voting pattern for Machap despite Anwar Ibrahim campaigning big there. So I wonder how Premesh could suppose there would be any significant swing to the opposition in Ijok even if Anwar were to work his so-called 'magic'.
And don’t forget, apart from the disappointing results for the Anwar 'magic' in Pengkalan Pasir, his campaigning was a disaster in Sarawak in May last year.
Then PKR deputy Youth chief, Shamsul Iskandar Mohd Akin had boasted: “Di mana-mana Anwar pergi, ribuan rakyat menghadiri program beliau, baik di kawasan bandar atau luar bandar termasuk di kubu kuat BN.”
PKR won only 1 out of 25 seats it stood in, a poor success rate of 4%, while by comparison, the DAP was victorious in 50% of the seats it campaigned for.
The following are extracts of what I had posted in Sarawak Election - Anwar Ibrahim Factor.
I personally believe that Anwar Ibrahim as the fiery magnetic reformasi (reformation) pole, that the Malaysian public had massed around some 7 years ago, has passed it’s use-by date
When he was expelled from UMNO, most anti-Mahathir people flocked around him. He mistook that as a measure of his personal popularity when it was more of a case of anti-Mahathirism. When Mahathir subsequently left the scene, Anwar lost his lustre as the focal point of the anti-Mahathirism movement. In fact, his UMNO background began to re-emerge. But he and his close followers failed to wake up to that.
One of his worst mistakes after he was released from prison was his attempt to whitewash and teflon-ise himself, by blaming everything on Mahathir. Many of his (new, not former UMNO hardcore) supporters would have respected him more if he had admitted to his errors and UMNO-ed contamination, instead of trying to deny the undeniable.
He insulted our intelligence by his pretence that he had been lily-white all along. No one had expected him to be, and he would have been forgiven for his UMNO odour if he had said “Yes, I was inside UMNO thus I failed to see things then as I see them now. My expulsion (from UMNO) has been a blessing in disguise. I now have a second chance to do things right for all Malaysians.”
Another mistake, and the one that bugs many of his erstwhile supporters most, has been his coyness about rejoining UMNO. Yes, he said he won’t, but there’s always a ‘qualification’ in his statement when he said that, which leads people to believe that Anwar still would rejoin UMNO, if that ‘qualification’ is changed or fulfilled (depending on how he had said it). Why can’t he make a declaration without any such ‘qualification’.
And recently he even offered his 'vast experience' to the government to sort out the scenic bridge fiasco with Singapore - what could we have read in that?
The general public no longer believe in him. As an example, his pontification on increased oil royalty for Sarawak came across as hypocritical and opportunistic. I am sorry to say this, but the PKR, while not exactly finished, is in a serious state of terminal illness.
It’s time PKR re-think its strategy as its so-called prize attraction is no longer the potent weapon they had been banking on to lead them to the political land of milk and honey. Yes, there will always be a core element in PKR who is completely devoted to him. But the others including Dr Syed Husin must now think of how they can contribute more meaningfully, either in PAS, DAP, or PSM.
I still hold to my reading of PKR even though Premesh Chandran (whom I respectfully bow to for his superior political knowledge and erudite analysis) described an Anwar-led PKR as in ‘resurgent’ mode.