Rantau by-election: An analysis in BN’s win and PH’s defeat

Rantau by-election: An analysis in BN’s win and PH’s defeat

By: K Pragalath

ANALYSIS: Umno acting president Mohamad Hasan retained Rantau in spite of a by-election that was called based on the Election Court ruling that nullified his victory during GE14.

He gained 10,397 votes against PKR-PH’s Dr S Streram who gained 5,887 votes. Mohamad had a majority of 4,510 votes. Both independents lost their deposits after gaining less than one eighth of the total votes. Malarvizhi received 83 votes and Nor, 79.

During GE13, Mohamad polled 10,126 votes against PKR’s Aisah Lamsah who gained 5,513 and a majority of 4,613 votes. This means there was a reduction of 103 votes but the circumstances now are different.

The Non Malay votes

While the Umno-PAS ensured Mohamad receiving upto 90 percent Malay support, he also received Chinese and Indian support. Linsum has 54 percent non-Malay votes, Pekan Sagga 80 percent, Rantau 83 percent and Kuala Sawah 55%.

Only the Chinese backed Dr Streram and this too was reflected with a deficit in a Bandar Ekar which happens to be the sole polling district that favored the PKR candidate.

With the largest voter turnout, PKR’s Dr Streram was given the boot out by voters across the age group. Why? This is because of the various U-turns of the federal government that is seen as unfavorable to the people.

On the same note, the revelation of BN’s misdeeds such as the White Paper on Felda did not turn away the Malay votes from the Felda settlements in the constituency.

From a macro perspective, it indicates that non-Malays are growing frustrated with the ruling coalition that is playing the blaming game on the previous administration constantly as opposed to rectifying it.

PH is supposed to be implementing policies according to their manifesto but they have instead been pandering to BN and PAS’ right wing rhetoric. That however did not keep away the non-Malays support from Mohamad

As for the Malays, they are also dissatisfied with PH’s policies concerning their community. A reduction in incentives for civil servants led to early votes from the security apparatus going to Mohamad.

Coalition factor

If one looks at the rivalling coalitions, it is crystal clear that BN component parties and affiliates – UMNO, MCA, MIC, MMSP and PAS put a more cohesive united front as opposed to PH.

PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was fully on the ground, campaigning for Dr S Streram. The DAP led by its vice-chairman M Kulasegaran was on the ground too.

Within PKR, Dr Streram’s candidacy itself is an issue with the division chief opposing the candidate. They subsequently came to a truce but it is anyone’s guess whether they buried the hatchet or casted protest votes.

The same cannot be said of Bersatu and Amanah. The independent, Mohd Nor Yassin is an Amanah member turned rogue as he opted to contest the by-election. There was not much done by Amanah to counter PAS’ right wing narrative.

Bersatu too was conspicuously missing in action and to make it worse party chairman, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad could not hit the campaign trail.

Bersatu’s role is vital to convince the Malay voters as it aspired to replace Umno. The party’s absence has somewhat swayed voters in places such as Felda Sendayan to give their ‘X’ to Mohamad Hasan.

Candidate factor

Despite operating in Rantau for several years, many voters claimed ignorance of Dr Streram. His blunders since nomination day range from the shirt colour, communication problem and over reliance on Anwar Ibrahim.

It appeared as if Streram was scoring own goals. If Streram was well known to the locals, Anwar need not go around introducing Streram.

Mohamad, on the hand, was contesting in his turf. His family home is about one kilometre from Rantau town established the fact that he was Rantau’s own son.

In addition to that, Mohamad also gained an edge when he shot down Negeri Sembilan Menteri Besar and state PKR chief Aminuddin Harun over the Seremban International Golf Club (SIGC) alcohol controversy.

Streram provided no defence for Aminuddin which Anwar to step in.

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