SEMENYIH: It is sweet victory for Barisan Nasional for the second time after clinching Semenyih, just a month after winning the Cameron Highlands by-election.
Its candidate Zakaria Hanafi, 58, secured 19,780 votes against Pakatan Harapan’s Muhammad Aiman Zainali, 30, who obtained 17,866 votes. The majority is 1,914 votes.
Nik Aziz Afiq Abdul, 25, from Parti Sosialis Malaysia got 847 votes while independent candidate Kuan Chee Heng, 56, took 725 votes.
It was an impressive outing for Barisan who managed to overturn an 8,964-majority won by Pakatan just over nine months ago in the 14th General Election.
Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said it looked as if Barisan had passed the real test with Semenyih’s win.
“They told us the real test would be in Semenyih. Cameron Highlands is a Barisan seat and Barisan also leads the Pahang state government.
“So, it looks as if we have passed the real test and we are grateful for this victory,” he said, thanking MCA and MIC as well as PAS for giving way in Semenyih.
Mohamad said the former rivals had strengthened their collaboration to form an opposition front, made up of the two largest Malay-based parties.
“We want to bring the people’s voices to both Parliament and the state assembly,” he said, describing the result as a public referendum on the people’s dissatisfaction with the federal government.
Mohamad Hasan, who will be facing the next by-election in Rantau, said Barisan would try its best there, adding that each constituency had its own challenges.
Zakaria thanked voters who had entrusted him to bring their voice to the state assembly.
Former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Pakatan made a huge mistake by focusing its attack on him instead of their agenda for the people.
“The rakyat only wants to know what the government can do for them. But I do not want us (Barisan) to gloat and overstate this victory,” he said, calling it a “small step forward”.
MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Wee Ka Siong said the win would strengthen the opposition’s voice in the Selangor state assembly.
The Prime Minister, he added, should have listened more to the rakyat’s complaints as well as paid more consideration to economic issues and issues related to the people’s daily life.
Muhammad Aiman said he would continue serving the people of Semenyih despite his loss and strengthen Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu).
Bersatu deputy president Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir said it had tried its best to reach out to the people and accepted its defeat.
“There are several issues that have been raised and we cannot blame the people. We must take into account state and local issues raised whenever we make any decision,” he said.
PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said Pakatan was unable to defend Semenyih as it had yet to execute some programmes it had pledged.
He said given time, the rakyat would understand why it was taking the Pakatan administration time to carry them out.
“The outcome surely gives us a message on the people’s sentiment, especially of the Malays,” he said.
“We must take them into consideration but while we must always uphold the spirit of the Federal Constitution on the rights of the Malays and Islam, we must also ensure the needs of other races and that racial unity is always preserved.”
Barisan had held the seat for decades until GE14 when Pakatan’s Bakhtiar Mohd Nor from Bersatu won the seat with 23,428 votes.
The by-election was called following Bakhtiar’s death on Jan 11 due to a heart attack.
Universiti Malaysia Sarawak political analyst Prof Dr Jeniri Amir said the Pakatan defeat should serve as a wake-up call for the ruling coalition.
“The voters in Semenyih have used this as a protest vote against the Pakatan government.
“They are not happy with the unfulfilled promises Pakatan made in its manifesto in GE14. The Malays also feel Pakatan has not been sensitive towards issues relating to race and religion,” he said.
Jeniri said with the momentum that Barisan had enjoyed since its victory in the Cameron Highlands by-election, it was likely the coalition could make it three in a row by winning the coming Rantau by-election.
In the Cameron Highlands by-election in January, Barisan’s Ramli Mohd Nor won by a 3,238-vote majority over M. Manogaran, the candidate from Pakatan.