Why PH really lost Cameron Highlands

This is not unexpected. Politicians from both sides of the divide and pundits are out in full force, trying to explain the outcome of the Cameron Highlands by-election. I, too, would like to get involved although I am neither a politician nor a pundit. I am just a layperson, but I am also a citizen and a voter.

What’s new when Umno and PAS claim the by-election victory was due to Malay/Muslim support? From now on, I believe they will rant and shout even louder that the Malays and Islam are under threat in every nook and cranny. We can also expect Umno and PAS to work together even more closely, if not merge into a single party or coalition.

What about Pakatan Harapan (PH)? What is its explanation for its defeat? In all likelihood it will be attributed to Najib Razak’s campaign, PAS’ support and the extensive use of racial and religious rhetoric by Umno and PAS.

I think both sides are indulging in pretension over matter which have nothing to do with the government’s performance. In GE14, did PH not defeat Najib and the race and religion cards of Umno and PAS? Why were Najib, race and religion not important then but so important now?

PH lost because people are disappointed and they have no one else to turn to. It’s as simple as that. Cameron Highlands was a protest vote against PH, not so much a clear and unequivocal resumption of support for Umno and PAS.

Race and religion came into the picture because PH has not been able to make a difference quickly and effectively. Instead of solving problems and resolving issues, PH has been using the same race and religion cards as Umno and PAS. People without substance use gimmicks. What else is new?

We know PH needs time to bring change, especially on longstanding issues. I believe the people will be reasonable and patient about that. But why ask the people to be patient when the government is busy indulging in the third national car, the crooked bridge and black shoes? How about harvesting some low-hanging fruits for us?

Have we seen any new initiatives to make the people’s lives better? Have we seen the cost of living stabilised? Why keep telling us that the government is looking into this and that, with nothing much to show? Have we seen any of the high-profile cases that were so contentious during GE14 resolved? Have we seen any of the simple promises made earlier honoured?

Offhand, I could think of many issues that should have been resolved but somehow linger on. It is perhaps time to give PH a gentle reminder. The list below is compiled randomly, not based on priority or importance. I have left out the bigger issues such as finding Jho Low, selling off the Equanimity, problems in 1MDB and Goldman Sachs because I consider them protracted and probably time-consuming. But what about the following?

1. The Selangor menteri besar said the Seafield temple issue would be resolved in three weeks. May I know the status now? What about other temples and places of worship? Will there be another flashpoint?

2. Yeo Bee Yin wrote a beautiful letter on Lynas, but may I know the status of the company’s continued operations in Malaysia and how the waste ought to be disposed of? Is there a timeframe given?

3. Previously, without controlling the federal government, most states were able to maintain the water tariff or even provide free water. What has happened? Why so eager to increase the price of water when the cost of living has not stabilised?

4. We have been talking about reducing internet and broadband tariffs for months now, but as far as I know, my bill has not come down.

5. I know the police are still searching, but where is Indira’s daughter?

6. I know there are inquests and hearings, but where are Pastor Raymond Koh and the others who have gone missing without a trace? Is the new government going to take this lightly?

7. Despite further investigation and ding-dong between the attorney-general and the police, when will we see the light at the end of the tunnel in Teoh Beng Hock’s case? How long must the family wait?

8. Will the UEC be recognised or not?

9. Why continue banning the book by G25? Whose approval is the government of Malaysia waiting for?

10. When is the renegotiation of toll rates going to begin? How long do we need to decide on this? Did PH not promise all crony contracts would be renegotiated and the rates reduced overnight before the election?

11. What has happened to the promise to dismantle all trade monopolies in the country?

12. Many BN politicians were charged in court. Strangely, some magically fall ill a day before their court appearance. Some would challenge “this judge and that prosecutor” for being partial or biased. When can we expect to see some results? The next general election will be due soon.

TK Chua is an FMT reader.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.