In Sungai Limau loss, Najib sees swing to BN

(MM) – PAS’s reduced majority in yesterday’s battle for Sungai Limau showed increasing support for Barisan Nasional (BN) in the rice-bowl state of Kedah, despite the pact’s failure to wrest the seat, Datuk Seri Najib Razak said today.

He noted that the farming constituency had always been a stronghold of PAS, which had held the seat since 1995, but the results showed that BN had made major inroads.

“We knew the area is a PAS stronghold, but we managed to win in 10 voting centres compares to nine for PAS,” he said at a press conference after attending the national Maal Hijrah celebrations here.

In yesterday’s by-election, PAS candidate Mohd Azam Abd Samat won by a 1,084-vote majority, securing a total of 12,069 votes over BN’s Dr Ahmad Sohaimi Lazim’s tally of 10,985 votes.

The late Tan Sri Azizan Abdul Razak, whose recent death paved way for the contest, retained the seat for a fifth straight term during the 13th General Election last May with a 2,774-vote majority.

Najib said there were a few positive indicators that BN has gleaned from yesterday’s results, not least being the apparent increase in Chinese support for the ruling coalition.

He said there was a clear uptick in Chinese support in at least two polling streams where there was a visibly larger base of Chinese voters.

“Looking at the snapshot, it is an increase in support. But this needs a deeper study. The result was largely due to good teamwork and the national and state machinery have to work together as a team,” said the prime minister.

Najib, who is also BN chairman, added that the outcome of the Sungai Limau contest should lay to rest any complaints the opposition Pakatan Rakyat have about the country’s electoral system.

The electoral system and the Election Commission (EC) have long been the opposition’s whipping boys for allegedly giving the BN an unfair advantage in any contest, with the latest being the results of the May 5 national polls, when the ruling party emerged victorious for a 13th straight time despite losing out on the popular vote.

The results led to a spate of protest rallies, dubbed Black 505, and the arrest and subsequent charging of several people from the opposition for allegedly failing to meet requirements under the Peaceful Assembly Act.

“I believe that with the results, the opposition won’t blame the EC which is what they usually do when they lose… this is proof that democracy is fresh and transparent in Malaysia,” he said.