To weep or not to weep?

Disappointment is growing fast within the ranks of Barisan Nasional with the Permatang Pasir defeat

From the result, it seems that traditional Umno voters have not returned to support the party in Permatang Pasir, in stark contrast to the near wholesale return of Umno supporters.


The result of the Permatang Pasir by election is both expected and disappointing. Expected because the candidate chosen by the Barisan Nasional came ready-dented in his personality but disappointing because it was such a one-sided affair.

Unlike in Manek Urai, where progress could be seen taking place every day and PAS’s majority could be seen slipping with every assault, this time BN party machinery were measuring their progress with political micrometers.

It was apparent during Press conferences when every visiting dignitary or party leader would say to the Press that they are detecting change in voter sentiment and quickly backpedalled with a proviso or two.

Even their curious reluctance to quickly and forcefully defend Rohaizat against personal attack could have been read as a certain lack of confidence in their choice of candidate.

All throughout the campaigning, BN leaders did their best to ignore the personal attack against Rohaizat but it was not a winning formula because voter sentiment were being heavily affected by the merciless lob of political bombs from an extended catalogue of past errors, misdeeds and ill considered decisions.

Barisan Nasional continued to promise progress, which is a good strategy anywhere else but this being Anwar Ibrahim’s home turf and the list of mega projects the former deputy prime minister brought to his constituency is impressive and difficult to beat.

Harping on pockets of derelict could have worked at a time when Barisan Nasional was flavour of the month but we live in a time when anything BN is seen with the eye of loathing, even their assistance to the poor were rubbished by the Opposition and gleefully accepted by the constituents.

The reality is that people in Permatang Pauh feels that BN is not really in touch with their sentiments and concerns. Apparently development is not really a concern and their sentiment against the ruling coalition remains negative as the feel that the party has not done enough to rid itself of corrupt practices and corrupt leaders.

Barisan Nasional entered the Permatang Pasir fray thinking that they had a decent chance of denting PAS’s confidence with issues like beer sale in Shah Alam, infighting in Selangor and fracturing Pakatan Rakyat in Kedah.

From the result, it seems that traditional Umno voters have not returned to support the party in Permatang Pasir, in stark contrast to the near wholesale return of Umno supporters.

Of course the big difference is that Manek Urai had an Umno candidate that was genuinely liked by voters while here, their first impression of Rohaizat was of a discredited lawyer and someone dishonest to his first wife for marrying a second woman and not telling.

At least one pro-PAS blogger even suggested that Rohaizat was deliberately chosen because of his character flaws because BN knew they could not win in Anwar’s lair and needed a ready excuse to draw flak away from the party, its leadership or campaign machinery.

While it is a tempting proposition, it is probably unlikely since a continuing roll of losses would sap the confidence of even the most arrogant political party and so far they are down by half a dozen races.

Even the most enthusiastic Umno bloggers campaigning in Permatang Pasir found it hard to hide their disappointment with the result but more than that, they were disappointed with the snail pace of change within Umno and Barisan Nasional.

With a few more by elections rumoured to be on the cards, Umno Deputy President, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Mohd Yassin said that there is a bright side to the endless politicking. He said it provided Umno with an unforgiving barometer of their performance and the people’s acceptance of the changes they are making.

That is as a positive a point of view as one can get from a high ranking party official, given that the various by elections have sapped a lot of financial resources and caused untold thousands of man hours taken away from productive work.

In the final analysis, Barisan Nasional is no nearer to finding the people’s heart and they have just over two more years to figure out how they can continue to be relevant to Malaysia and its politically fast-maturing people.

It is really up to Umno and Barisan Nasional if they want people to weep their passing or to have the party disappear without a single tear shed.