UMNO/BN must thank Election Commission for fixing polling day on Wednesday for its slight majority in the Kuala Besut by-election

UMNO/BN must thank the Election Commission for fixing polling day on Wednesday for the slight UMNO/BN majority in the Kuala Besut by-election, which resulted in a lower voter turnout of 1,193 voters or 79.78% compared to 87% in the 13th general election on May 5.

The Umno/BN candidate Tengku Zaihan Che Ku Abd Rahman secured 8,288 votes as against PAS candidate [email protected] Yusuf, who polled 5,696 votes – a majority of 2,592 votes which is an increase of 158 votes from the 2,434-vote majority secured by Umno/BN in the recent general election.

UMNO Deputy President and Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has claimed that BN’s inability to achieve its 4,000-vote majority target in Kuala Besut was due to overconfidence among BN supporters who did not turn up at the ballot box.

He also attributed the 7 per cent lower voter turnout than the last general election to the slower pace of life during the month of Ramadan.

However, the opposite is more likely to be the case, as the lower turnout is the result of the polling day being fixed on a working day, causing many outstation voters not returning to cast their vote.

If voter turn-out in the by-election had been as high as during the general election, with the majority of those who did not return to Kuala Besut to vote in the by-election voting for the PAS candidate, the Umno/BN majority in the by-election is likely to be lower than the 2,434-vote majority in the recent general election.

Such an outcome with a smaller majority, despite victory still going to the UMNO/BN candidate, would have been seen as a setback for UMNO/BN especially after goodies of some RM500 million have rained down the constituency and the voters during the by-election by both the Federal and state governments – turning the Kuala Besut by-election into one of the most expensive “buy-elections” in history.

PAS has secured a respectable result in the Kuala Besut by-election as nobody really expects the Umno/BN candidate to lose in their stronghold.

The biggest loser is Umno/BN because of their failure to achieve the target of a 4,000-vote majority victory in the by-election.

Lim Kit Siang DAP Parliamentary Leader & MP for Gelang Patah