PONTIAN: Pakatan Harapan’s thumping defeat in the Tanjung Piai by-election is a bitter pill, but the coalition needs to work quickly to address people’s concerns. And the state budget announcement on Thursday could be the place to start.
For the first time Pakatan lost in all 27 polling districts and 127 out of the 128 streams in the by-election. The only stream Pakatan won was in Jalan Rimba Terjun in Kukup, by 25 votes.
The message from the ground was loud and clear – the people, whether Malay, Chinese, Indian or others, young or old, rural or urban and professional or not – were unhappy with the current state of affairs and voted to punish Pakatan.
The main complaints were the high cost of living and the lack of headway in fulfilling the GE14 election promises, including the removal of tolls, as well as flip flops in matters touching on education.
The coalition’s leaders have said they accepted the results, which saw Barisan’s Datuk Seri Dr Wee Jeck Seng obtain 25,466 votes while Pakatan’s Karmaine Sardini was a distant second with 10,380 votes.
Four other candidates lost their deposits including Gerakan’s Wendy Subramaniam, who got 1,707 votes, Berjasa’s Datuk Dr Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz (850 votes) and independents Dr Ang Chuan Lock and Faridah Aryani Abdul Ghaffar, who got 380 and 32 votes respectively.
There were 595 spoilt votes. The voter turnout was good at 74.43%.
With the intensely fought by-election finally over, life in Tanjung Piai is slowly returning to normal with thousands of party workers leaving the constituency.
Now all eyes in Johor will be fixed on the state’s budget announcement on Thursday, which could offer Pakatan a chance to shore up support. This will be Mentri Besar Datuk Dr Sahruddin Jamal’s maiden budget since taking over the post seven months ago.
During a recent meeting with StarMetro, Dr Sahruddin assured that he would serve people of all races and no one would be left out.
He added that there would be more than 170 focus points that would be addressed during the budget, including emphasis on education and developing human capital.
He said the budget was drafted based on feedback from the people involving issues such as education, human capital, cost of living, environment, economy, infrastructure and the running of the government.
Asked about goodies that might be offered in the state budget, he said there were specific items for farmers, fishermen and women, including a bonus for state civil servants.
As seen by the by-election results, the time has come to address the grouses and issues faced by the people of Johor.
The excuses that the government is still not doing well financially or needed more time to institute reforms, can no longer molify the voters. They want to see tangible results in the form of help and assistance with their everyday life after they voted for change in GE14.
Because of this, Dr Sahruddin may need to loosen the state’s purse-strings and give bigger allocations to address bread-and-butter issues, including the high cost of living in the state.
More money needs to be channelled to non-Malay related activities in the state as the annual allocations for the Indian and Chinese communities were not enough.
Infrastructure development including building of new roads and lighting up major roads such as Pasir Gudang, Jalan Tebrau, Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL), Jalan Skudai and Lebuhraya Sultan Iskandar could also use a financial boost.
Some of these stretches are poorly lit, as the light bulbs have not been replaced for weeks, sometimes months.
Social programmes with the assistance of non-governmental organisations should be expanded to reach more people, especially in the rural areas.
The time has come for Dr Sahruddin to take the bull by the horns during the state budget and announce initiatives and projects which will benefit the people and be fair to everyone, as all the races have spoken collectively and loudly in Tanjung Piai.
What do you think of this article?