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Selangor next in BN’s sights after by-election wins

KUALA LUMPUR — Ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) is planning to wrest back Selangor in the next general election after its thumping victory in the Sungai Besar by-election over the weekend, said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak yesterday. He said there was hope for change following BN’s good showing in the by-election.

Selangor next in BN’s sights after by-election wins

Sungai Besar Barisan Nasional candidate Budiman Mohd Zohdi (with lanyard) celebrating his victory. Photo: Malay Mail Online

KUALA LUMPUR — Ruling coalition Barisan Nasional (BN) is planning to wrest back Selangor in the next general election after its thumping victory in the Sungai Besar by-election over the weekend, said Malaysian Prime Minister Najib Razak yesterday. He said there was hope for change following BN’s good showing in the by-election.

The three-cornered by-election saw BN’s Mr Budiman Mohd Zohdi garnering 16,800 votes, while opposition Parti Islam Se-Malaysia (PAS) gained 6,902 votes and 7,609 votes went to its offshoot Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah). Mr Budiman’s majority of 9,191 votes was far greater than the 399 votes secured by his predecessor in the last general election in 2013.

“Recapturing Selangor begins in Sungai Besar, we give the momentum for BN to regain Selangor, we fight as a strong team and do not lose focus towards the next general election.

“This is not about the Umno (United Malays National Organisation) election,” said Mr Najib. “It’s about the next general election. We must work hard, serve the people and we have proved that BN is accepted by all races in which our candidate has gained the support not only from the Malays but also the Chinese and Indians,” he told BN supporters. The opposition wrestled Selangor from BN in the 2008 general election and retained Malaysia’s most developed state in the 2013 general election. Malaysia’s next general election is due by 2018.

BN also won the Kuala Kangsar by-election — held at the same time as the Sungai Besar by-election — gaining a majority of 6,969 votes.

Mr Najib took a swipe yesterday at former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad, who had campaigned for the opposition for the first time in his political career as part of his wider bid to unseat Mr Najib whom he accused of corruption.

Mr Najib said the results of the two by-elections were proof that Malaysians do not care for Dr Mahathir’s brand of politics and that the people wanted a government that is able to secure their future.

“The people have rejected Tun Mahathir. They have rejected the Citizens’ Declaration,” he said in reference to the document by the bipartisan Save Malaysia movement headed by the former premier that calls for Mr Najib’s removal.

“The Citizens’ Declaration is not necessary as the people want a government that helps and aids them. They want a secure future,” said Mr Najib.

BN leaders had attributed the big electoral wins to a swing in votes among Chinese voters, but analysts told TODAY the victories were also due to a fractured opposition, as well as BN’s well-oiled machinery.

“The opposition implosion and disarray as well as the community’s antipathy towards Dr Mahathir and distrust of his motives” were the reasons cited by Dr Lim Teck Ghee, director of the Centre for Policy Initiatives in Kuala Lumpur, for the Chinese voters’ swing towards BN.

The Pakatan Rakyat opposition pact was dissolved last year after a public spat between PAS and its then-ally, the Democratic Action Party (DAP), over PAS’s insistence to implement the Islamic penal code in Kelantan. A new opposition pact, Pakatan Harapan, was formed comprising DAP, Parti Keadilan Rakyat and Amanah.

Besides openly bickering, the opposition has also clashed over six seats in the May 7 Sarawak state elections as well as in the Sungai Besar and Kuala Kangsar by-elections.

Dr Wong Chin Huat, head of political and social analysis at Penang Institute, told TODAY the swing was also due to “local factors such as favourable policies or development funds introduced by BN”.

However, DAP’s strategist Liew Chin Tong said despite their defeats, Pakatan Harapan should not lose hope as the results showed that the federal opposition has two hurdles to unseat BN.

“First, we will have to convince semi-urban and rural voters that a change of government is the right thing to do for Malaysia.

“Second is to overcome racial and religious divisiveness by articulating a new agenda that brings ordinary Malaysians of all ethnic background together for a common purpose and shared destiny,” he said. AGENCIES

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