PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Harapan pulled off decisive victories in the Pulai and Simpang Jeram by-elections in Johor today despite a low voter turnout which pundits had predicted would favour the opposition Perikatan Nasional.
The PH victories ended a streak of opposition gains in the general election last November and state assembly elections last month, and ensured that the federal unity coalition would retain its two-third majority in the Dewan Rakyat.
However, PN found consolation in cutting the winning majority in Pulai by 12,000 votes, while PH in turn secured a higher majority in the Simpang Jeram state seat.
Umno vice-president Khaled Nordin said Johor voters had rejected the racial sentiments played up by PN during the election campaign.
Amanah president Mohamad Sabu, whose party fielded both the winning candidates, said “we managed to push the extremist wave aside”, and thanked Umno who he said had “helped us tremendously in this effort”.
Mohamad said he had been nervous about the by-elections after PN made gains at the general election last November and at six state assembly elections last month, gains which were dubbed the “green wave”.
In Pulai, the defeated PN candidate, Zulkifli Jaafar, said the coalition had lost with dignity, having reduced the winning margin by more than 10,000 votes. The result made him proud, he said. “We did our best.”
The two by-elections had been called after the death in July of Amanah deputy president Salahuddin Ayub, who had won both seats in the general election last November and 2022 Johor state elections.
His former special assistant, Suhaizan Kaiat, won in Pulai, polling 48,283 votes for a winning margin of 18,641 votes over Zulkifli, who obtained 29,642.
In Simpang Jeram, former municipal council engineer Nazri Abdul Rahman (PH) defeated vascular surgeon Dr Mazri Yahya by a majority of 3,514 votes – a margin 1,100 votes more than in 2022.
Nazri obtained 13,844 votes to the 10,330 polled by Mazri.
He said his victory would dispel the notion that the PH partnership with Barisan Nasional was not accepted by voters, especially Malay voters.
The independent candidates in the two seats, Samsudin Fauzi and S Jeganathan, both lost their deposits, polling 528 and 311 votes respectively.