Why Pakatan lost in Bagan Pinang

Anil Netto

The Pakatan needs to carry out a serious post-mortem to find out why and how it was thrashed in Bagan Pinang.

In some ways, the BN victory was not unexpected. Perhaps the scale of the defeat surprised many. But a few keen political analysts noticed something amiss ahead of polling day and predicted that Isa would win comfortably as noted in my post here.

So far, many have pointed to some obvious reasons;

Pull factors:

Isa was a popular well-known albeit tainted local candidate.

All kinds of promises and enticements were made, especially to army personnel about improved facilities.

Questions about the postal balloting system.

And of course, the mainstream media dominance and the government machinery used in the campaiging – but then this is no different from previous by-elections.


Push factors:

The problems caused by certain Pas politicians in Selangor, and the bad press it received over attempts to ban concerts and the like could have contributed to the defeat. In many ways, these Pas politicians have not learnt from the 1999 general election, when they mistook increased support for their party (then under the Barisan Alternatif) as a vote for greater Islamisation and an Islamic state. They are now making the same mistake by assuming that the support for Pas in 2008 was because voters want more conservative religious regulations even at the local level in places like Selangor.

“(The loss is the) result of Pas screwing everything, I think,” wrote a political scientist in a text message to me. He added that the result was expected and about time too. He added that the PKR’s inability to stand up to Pas and “Anwar’s gutless stand suggests that they are prepared to cut cards… to get Anwar to power at all costs.”

The DAP and PKR’s own inability to rein in certain elected reps from upsetting Pakatan supporters might have also cost it some votes. Bickering between the DAP and PKR – the impression that some Pakatan elected reps are more interested in securing positions of power and the trappings that go with it instead of being focussed on serving the rakyat – would have cost it some votes. As one observer emailed me, “If you get the chance to speak to LGE, tell him to get his Pakatan act together. Take this ‘probation’ period of five years to do house cleaning and remove all the baggage in the party. Or else it will just be a one time surprise.”

The demolition of Kg Buah Pala – and the loss of the Makkal Sakthi factor – would also have also cost the Pakatan as seen in the erosion in support in estate areas.