PONTIAN: Barisan Nasional trounced Pakatan Harapan by a convincing 15,086-vote majority in unofficial results of the Tanjung Piai by-election tonight. Voters delivered a smack in the face to Pakatan Harapan a year after PH had upset BN with a slim victory in the 2018 general election.
The MCA’s Wee Jeck Seng won a third term as MP, as voters rejected the PH candidate, Karmaine Sardini of PPBM.
The result gives the MCA two seats in the Dewan Rakyat, both held by men named Wee. MCA president Wee Ka Siong (MP for Ayer Hitam) had been the party’s sole representative after the general election.
Wee, who is Tanjung Piai MCA division chief, had served two terms as MP from 2008 to 2018 but was unseated by PPBM’s Md Farid Md Rafik in the 2018 general election by a slim 524-vote margin.
The other contestant at the time was Nordin Othman of PAS. The party sat out today’s by-election, after having formed an alliance with Umno earlier this year.
Analysts had predicted that voter unhappiness with Pakatan Harapan would lead to a defeat for the ruling coalition.
Barisan Nasional supporters were jubilant as counting of votes progressed this evening at the Dewan Jubli Intan counting centre here. By contrast, the mood was sombre in the Pakatan Harapan camp.
In an immediate reaction to the early results from Tanjung Piai, Syed Husin Ali, a former PKR deputy president, said the by-election amounted to a referendum on the leadership of Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“The people are disappointed and want to teach Harapan, especially Dr M,” he said in a tweet. Mahathir is chairman of Pakatan Harapan as well as PPBM.
Syed Husin also said that Mahathir knows what should be done immediately. “Don’t dither any longer,” he said, in an apparent broad hint that Mahathir should step down.
Tonight’s result had been forecast by an MCA-linked think tank which said last night that BN would enjoy an overwhelming victory, with a majority of over 7,000 votes.
The Institute of Strategic Analysis and Policy Research (INSAP) said over half of Malay and Chinese voters surveyed in the past two weeks indicated they would vote against Pakatan Harapan.
“But it is not so much that Tanjung Piai voters now love BN more. It is about voters falling out of love with PH,” said INSAP deputy chairman Dr Pamela Yong.
The Tanjung Piai seat fell vacant after Farid, a deputy minister in the Prime Minister’s Department, died on Sept 21 from heart complications.
The other candidates in the by-election were: Badhrulhisham Abdul Aziz (Berjasa), Wendy Subramaniam (Gerakan) and independent candidates Ang Chuan Lock and Faridah Aryani Abd Ghaffar.
Tanjung Piai is a mixed seat with 53,528 registered voters, comprising 57% Malays, 41.66% Chinese and 1% Indians.
This is the ninth by-election held after PH took over the federal government.