Landslide win for PAS in Kemaman
Sound rejection of Madani by Kemaman voters
The results of the Kemaman byelection was a humiliating defeat for Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor, former armed forces chief for UMNO, by the popular Menteri Besar of Terengganu Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar of PAS. Ahmad Samsuri has been propelled into national prominence, and now touted as future prime minister material, after winning a whopping 37,220 vote majority.
The byelection in the Malay majority (94.1%) Kemaman seat in Terengganu on December 2, was necessitated after the Terengganu Election Court annulled the results from the 2022 general election. The challenge to the results based upon electoral corruption concerning PAS memberChe Alias, who lost his seat after winning a 27,179 vote majority.
It remains questionable whether the strategy to challenge the general election result was prudent, as it led to electoral humiliation on the part of UMNO. The result also severely dinted the democratic legitimacy of the Madani government, leading to many questions about the soundness of the coalition.
The first take from the Kemaman byelection is that it created another Perikatan Nasional (PAS) hero at a time many were saying there is a void of talent in the coalition. The byelection focused the spotlight on Ahmad Samsuri as a future main-player in federal politics.
For the Madani coalition, it appears Anwar’s overzealous support for Hamas has not only lost non-Malay support, the byelection result clearly shows he didn’t pick up any groundswell of Malay support, which has actually receded over the year.
The result was worse for UMNO than the 2022 general election, indicating UMNO has much thinking to do if the party is to remain relevant in the Malay heartlands.
The Malays in Kemaman have clearly rejected the Madani government, where UMNO went into coalition with the DAP, and PKR with Anwar as the leader. Contrary to all the public relations, Anwar is not wanted as the prime minister of the Malays.
The attacks upon Siti Masturi and police investigations against Muhyiddin are not winning favour from the voters. These just cost the Madani government support within the Malay heartlands.
Unless UMNO can change quickly, the party will become irrelevant. This is a devastating result for UMNO, where Ahmad Zahid Hamidi at the twilight of his career, must make some decisions. The DNAA of the charges against him haven’t exonerated him in the eyes of the voters in Kemaman. A change of leader may not be enough, UMNO may have to reinvent itself.
This result now makes the road towards a pardon for Najib Razak much easier, as he may be needed as a force in the Malay heartlands to enable UMNO to survive. Its difficult to see any other UMNO politician take on this role successfully.
For Pakatan Harapan, the lessons are more stark. Its time for Anwar to really evaluate who he wants to be. Over the last 12 months Anwar has taken Pakatan backwards.
In the next general election, PKR will decline just like UMNO, where the party may be lucky to hold onto 20 seats in the parliament.
For PAS, this is a rally call. Malaysia is theirs for the taking. They look legitimate, Madani is now illegitimate. Madani was a government created from the goodwill of the Istana, not from a mandate at the ballot box. This has been forgotten by the government. They aren’t there at the peoples’ pleasure.
Saturday night’s results indicate that Anwar is only temporarily occupying the prime minister’s seat, until the people select a legitimate person to replace him. This he must think deeply about.