PUTRAJAYA: Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad today blamed the Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) loss in the Semenyih by-election on Umno’s alliance with PAS as well as the national debt.
Mahathir, who is also the PH chairman, said that when the coalition won the May 9 general election, both PAS and Umno were divided and therefore could not garner a “good number of votes”.
He also said the nation’s RM1 trillion debt meant his administration could not fulfil its promises overnight.
“It will take some time. The money we have now that should be used for the rakyat is being used to pay off our debts,” he told reporters after officiating the National Landscape Day 2019 celebration at the Putrajaya Botanical Gardens.
Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Zakaria Hanafi won with a 1,914-vote majority yesterday by securing 19,780 votes against 17,866 won by PH’s Muhammad Aiman Zainali.
Several BN leaders attributed their victory to their alliance with PAS, the “Bossku” phenomenon, more young voters coming out to vote, and PH’s inability to fulfil its GE14 promises.
Mahathir took PAS to task over its stance in the Semenyih by-election.
He said that at a recent meeting, PAS president Abdul Hadi Awang told him: “I want to support you. PAS will not campaign (for BN in Semenyih), truly”.
But, he pointed out that this never happened “from as early as nomination day two weeks ago”.
“We are speaking the truth… but on the nomination day, they did (campaign for BN),” he said, adding that “he (Hadi) promised me this (not to campaign)”.
PAS secretary-general Takiyuddin Hassan later clarified that the party would be “consistent” in its cooperation with Umno in the Semenyih by-election but the level of support would be different from that shown during the Cameron Highlands by-election in January.
On Sarawak Report’s confirmation of a claim by PKR president Anwar Ibrahim that its editor, Clare Rewcastle-Brown, was paid RM1.4 million by Hadi as part of their out-of-court settlement of a defamation suit, Mahathir said this was because PAS knew they “maybe wouldn’t win”.
“So, they wanted to settle it by means of a private arrangement and for this, those in PAS were the ones who paid, and we have proof. Why would we want to hide it?” he asked.