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Defeat in Sg Bakap State By-Election a wake-up call to M’sia’s ruling coalition

The recent defeat in the Sungai Bakap state by-election has raised alarms for Malaysia’s ruling Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional (PH-BN) coalition. Supporters and analysts have urged the coalition to recognize that voter mandates are not guaranteed, emphasizing the need for continuous effort to earn public trust.

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PENANG, MALAYSIA: The recent defeat in the Sungai Bakap state by-election has raised alarms for Malaysia’s ruling Pakatan Harapan-Barisan Nasional (PH-BN) coalition.

Supporters and analysts have urged the coalition to recognize that voter mandates are not guaranteed, emphasizing the need for continuous effort to earn public trust.

On 6 July, the opposition coalition Perikatan Nasional (PN), which includes the hardline Islamist party Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS), retained the Sungai Bakap state seat with a significantly increased majority, delivering a significant blow to Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim.

Anwar had entrusted his party deputy, Rafizi Ramli, to spearhead the campaign.

PN candidate Abidin Ismail secured 14,489 votes, defeating the PH candidate, who garnered 10,222 votes.

The majority of 4,267 votes is more than double the 1,563-vote margin PN achieved in the six-state election a year prior.

The ruling coalition’s defeat coincides with criticism over several contentious decisions, including the elimination of diesel subsidies and the involvement of a company owned by US fund manager BlackRock in managing Malaysia’s airports.

It was reported that Malay votes were vital in ensuring PN retained the Sungai Bakap state seat with a larger majority.

Analysts have also called for humility from PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli after he was caught on camera displaying condescending behaviour towards critics during the campaign.

His remarks, which included labelling critics as “bahlol” (moron) and “bodoh” (idiot), sparked public backlash and calls for a more respectful approach to restore trust.

Political scientist Wong Chin Huat emphasized that as a minister, Rafizi should exhibit respect towards the public and refrain from derogatory language.

“A commentator, analyst, entrepreneur, or any private citizen has greater freedom to use terms like ‘bahlol’. Not a minister. The public are your employers,” Wong told Rafizi, as reported by Malaysia media FMT.

Wong suggested that Rafizi should apologize and adjust his conduct not only during campaigns but also in everyday interactions.

Dr Ong Kian Ming, a former parliament member and deputy minister, underscored in his opinion piece, “Warning Signs for PH and Umno from Sungai Bakap By-Election,” that the results highlight significant concerns for the ruling coalition.

While the victory of PN followed the trend of by-election results post the 15th General Election (GE15), Dr Ong noted that the increase in support for PN was driven by a small uptick in overall support and, more crucially, a significant decline in non-Malay turnout.

He emphasized that this decline was exacerbated by several missteps in the PH-BN campaign, which compounded the already challenging political and economic landscape for the unity government at the national level.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim responded to the defeat by affirming the unity government’s commitment to diligently safeguarding the people’s interests and elevating the nation’s stature.

He expressed his government’s acknowledgement and acceptance of its loss in the by-election, emphasizing a reflective approach to assess the outcome with humility.

“As Prime Minister, I humbly accept the voice of the people in the Sungai Bakap state constituency, which took place while the country is undergoing a phase of adaptation to the wave of changes being actively implemented under the new direction of the MADANI government.”

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Last edited 4 days ago by Blankslate

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