Five lessons from the Sungai Kandis by-election

There are at least five lessons from the Sungai Kandis by-election.

Firstly, it is one of disappointment, that the voter turnout was the historic low of 49.4%,

But it is not for the reason that UMNO leaders are giving to flatter themselves. The UMNO/BN Deputy President Datuk Mohamad Hassan claimed that the historically low turnout was a sign of protest against the Pakatan Harapan government as it showed that something was wrong with the government.

If Mohamad is right, then the UMNO candidate Lokman Adam should be the beneficiary with high UMNO/PAS voter turn-out in support of him.

But this was not the case. Despite support from PAS leaders, Lokman could only poll 9,585 votes yesterday although the combined votes polled by UMNO and PAS candidates in the 14GE was 19,091 – or just half of what UMNO and PAS candidates polled in the 14GE.

This is a double slap-in-the-face for Datuk Seri Najib Razak who led the UMNO campaign in Sungai Kandis and the PAS President, Hadi Awang, who had given his blessing for the UMNO/PAS partnership in Sungai Kandis by-election.

The 14GE was the occasion when voters made a supreme effort to topple the UMNO/BN government which had been in power for over six decades.

It is not possible to duplicate the high turn-out in a by-election, but Pakatan Harapan must ensure as high a voter turnout as possible in Balakong and Seri Setia by-elections.

In the 14GE, the voter turnout in Seri Setia was 84% while in Balakong the voter turnout was 87%. Pakatan Harapan will have to ensure a higher voter turnout of at least 70% and not below 50% as happened in Sungai Kandis.

Second, UMNO is fighting a losing battle in resorting to the vicious and toxic politics of race, religion, hate, fear and lies although they are still capable of causing great damage to the very fabric of Malaysian society.

As the director of Merdeka Centre, Ibrahim Suffian pointed out, Umno’s inability to draw additional support in the Sungai Kandis by-election underscored the party’s failure to adapt in a changing political reality that has little appetite for the vicious and toxic communal politics – a far cry from a party which for over half a century had enjoyed unwavering Malay majority support to remain in power for over 60 years.

Thirdly, there can be no redemption or salvation for UMNO unless it could end its 3D status of denial, delusion and deception – denial of the reasons for UMNO’s rejection by the people in the 14GE, delusion that it could continue the status quo as if nothing had happened in the 14GE and deception that it could continue to deceive that Najib Razak is the greatest Prime Minister for Malaysia when he is the worst Prime Minister who brought infamy and ignominy to the nation with his monstrous 1MDB corruption and money-laundering scandal turning Malaysia into a global kleptocracy.

Fourthly, the proposed UMNO/PAS partnership advocated by Najib and Hadi is an unholy alliance, which is rejected by the rank-and-file of UMNO and PAS membership.

The next test for the unholy alliance is the Seri Setia by-election, where UMNO/BN has announced that it will give way to PAS to reciprocate the support of the PAS leadership in the Sungai Kandis by-election.

I have described this as a poisoned chalice, as in the 14GE, the Barisan Nasional candidate won 9,878 votes while the PAS candidate secured 4,563 votes against the winning Pakatan Harapan/PKR candidate who polled 29,250, with a majority of 19,372.

Will PAS drink the poisoned chalice offered by UMNO?

Fifthly, the Sungai Kandis by-election result is one of hope and support for the Pakatan Harapan Government, as a higher percentage of voters, including Malay voters, voted for Pakatan Harapan in the by-election as compared to 14GE.

Lim Kit Siang MP for Iskandar Puteri