Barisan reels from worst-ever election performance

  • Nation
  • Sunday, 9 Mar 2008

PM's post-election press conferenceMalaysia Decides 8th March 2008 

PETALING JAYA: Malaysia is in shock. The Barisan Nasional is reeling from its worst-ever election performance.  

While it managed to keep Terengganu and will form the next government, it lost Penang, Selangor Kedah and Perak to the Opposition and failed to recapture Kelantan.  

Barisan Nasional chairman Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, in accepting the results, said this was clear proof of democracy at work in the country. He urged people to remain calm and not take to the streets to celebrate. 

Earlier, as reports spread of Barisan’s mounting losses, Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan warned the public not to hold any victory celebrations or spread rumours of rioting and that the Internal Security Act would be used against offenders caught. 

Musa’s concern is understandable considering Barisan’s losses are even bigger than what the ruling party experienced in the 1969 general election.  

In that election, Gerakan, as an Opposition party, won Penang while PAS took Kelantan.  

Barisan Nasional's predecessor, the then Alliance haul of just 74 out of 144 parliamentary seats enabled it to form the government by a simple majority. 

Yesterday, Barisan reached the simple majority by winning 112 out of the 222 parliamentary seats by 1am. Results show Sarawak and Sabah and Johor, the traditional bulwarks of the coalition, delivering the most number of seats – 24 from Sarawak, 29 from Sabah and 25 from Johor. 

MCA is the biggest loser but a unhappy close second is Gerakan which lost its crown jewel, Penang, the state it had ruled for 39 years. 

MIC failed badly, too, with its top leadership rejected by the voters. 

Hence, the election saw the shock defeats of some of the biggest personalities on the Malaysian political landscape – MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu who lost to PKR’s Dr D. Jeyakumar; Gerakan acting president Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon who had planned to move to the federal level by contesting in the Batu Kawan parliamentary seat lost to DAP’s Dr P. Ramasamy and PPP president Datuk M. Kayveas was knocked out of his Taiping seat by DAP’s Nga Kor Ming. 

Deputy Wanita Umno chief Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil was beaten by PKR fledging Nurul Izzah Anwar while Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun was unseated by entrepreneur-turned-DAP politician Tony Pua. Datuk Lee Hwa Beng, the popular Selangor state assemblyman, lost in his bid for the Kelana Jaya parliamentary seat to yet another political newbie, Loh Gwo-Burne. 

News of possible upsets started trickling in shortly after Election Commission chief Abdul Rashid Abdul Rahman announced at a 7.30pm press conference that the highest voter turnout was in Kelantan and Putrajaya (81% each). 

By 8pm, unconfirmed reports said that PAS had retained Kelantan. (Putrajaya incumbent Tengku Adnan Mansor retained his seat too.)  

Next to come were reports of Penang falling like ninepins to the DAP and seats in several other states once deemed safe were turning shaky for the BN incumbents. 

It was all over in Penang for the Barisan by 9pm when DAP clinched 19 of the 40 state states.  

Acting Gerakan president Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon conceded defeat in a press conference at 11.30pm. 

Selangor’s fall came when PKR, DAP and PAS took 33 of the 56 state seats at about 10.30pm. Kedah and Perak quickly followed.