Sunday, 30th January 2011
PR Beware You Have Lost First Election in 2011
Barisan Nasional has won the Tenang by-election by more than 3,000 votes, but the result fell far short of Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin's 5,000-majority target, spelling doom for non-Malay component MCA and its president Chua Soi Lek.
Umno's Azahar Ibrahim snatched 6,698 votes against PAS' Normala Sudirman who obtained 2,963 for a majority of 3,735 votes.
Pakatan Rakyat leaders, while disappointed, were at the same time elated at the obvious inroads made in the Chinese-majority areas, saying that it showed their coalition stood a good chance of breaking the BN's stranglehold on Johore in the next general election.
"The rain killed us. The BN has all the machinery and they used police trucks to ferry out voters from their own strongholds in the Felda settlements," PKR vice president Tian Chua told Malaysia Chronicle.
"But it is telling that the Chinese who braved the rain voted Pakatan despite Soi Lek's anti-Islam campaign. He has to take responsibility for this and it serves him right. We hope the BN will learn a lesson and stop using racial and religious politicking. If not for the high commodity prices plus the election goodies from the government, Felda settlers may have voted for PAS while it is clear the Chinese have already accepted PAS no matter what MCA or Soi Lek says."
Disappointing win for the BN
Tenang voters were the center of attention on Sunday, but heavy rain and floods spoiled what could have been a blockbuster event. Amid allegations of serious vote-buying by the BN, the total turnout at the 5pm closing bell was 71.71 percent. This means that only 10,579 out of a total 14,753 voters came out to votes, far short of the 80 expected by the Election Commission.
DAP leaders had accused MCA Tenang chieftains of vote-buying at a Chinese school, showing the press pre-signed cheques by MCA branch chairman of Kampung Sawah Padi, Kok Yun Keong, who is also the village headman. The amount had been written out but there were no names stated.
In 2008, the Umno candidate retained the seat with a majority of 2,492 votes. But despite Sunday's bigger win, the result could not meet the DPM's target. Umno watchers say this will reflect poorly on him.
Other political pundits including Bridget Welsh, a political science professor at the Singapore Management University, have said the final outcome could have serious implications for the future.
"The results will point to new water levels and currents that are constantly evolving. One thing is certain, the political fortunes of both BN and Pakatan will be shaped by this quiet constituency," Welsh had said after visiting the constituency.
Meanwhile, traditional arch rivals - PAS and Umno - were pitted against each other in a straight and bitterly-fought fight.
Normala is a 38-year former school teacher, while the 39-year old Azahar is a former land administrator in Rengit.
Tenang is a state seat. It fell vacant after Umno's Sulaiman Taha died from illness last month. The electorate has 14,753 registered voters including 18 postal votes. Malay voters form 47.5 per cent of the electorate, Chinese 39.08 per cent, Indians 12 per cent and the rest are other races.
The Election Commission had forecast an 80 per cent turnout given that many of the town's residents who worked outstation were back for the Chinese New Year holidays. But the rain and the floods stopped many from leaving their homes.
There were 32 polling streams and 12 polling centres. Voting began at 8am and ended at 5 pm.
Tenang by-election fact-box
Constituency: N5 Tenang
Candidates: BN - Mohd Azahar Ibrahim, 39, former Rengit assistant land administrator; PAS - Normala Sudirman, 39, Labis Muslimat chief and former teacher
Incumbent: Datuk Sulaiman Taha (BN) (Sulaiman died on Dec 17 due to blood infection and complications from diabetes. He defeated PAS' Mohd Saim Siran with a majority of 2,492 votes in the 2008 general election)
Total electorates: 14,753 (18 postal voters)
Voter composition: Malays 47.5 per cent, Chinese 39.08 per cent, Indians 12 per cent, Orang Asli and others the balance
Economic activities: Agriculture and business
Returning Officer: Md Asri Amir
Polling: Jan 30
Polling streams: 32
Polling centres: 12
Vote tallying centre: Labis District Council Multipurpose Hall
Postal vote tallying centre: Labis District Council.
With this result, I am doubt whether PR will be able to wrest Putra Jaya from BN in the coming general election.
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