Karpal: Sungai Limau loss a slap in the face for Dr M and son

(MM) – DAP’s Karpal Singh dismissed today the reduced majority for political ally PAS in the Sungai Limau polls, insisting the victory was clear-cut and signalled the waning influence of Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad in Malaysian politics.

The DAP national chairman said Barisan Nasional’s (BN) loss in the farming constituency in Kedah, despite having parked its entire election machinery there for the duration of the campaign, was a clear rejection of the former prime minister and his son Datuk Mukhriz Mahathir, who is currently the state’s mentri besar.

“So, this win by PAS is certainly a slap in the face for both Mahathir and Mukhriz,” he said in a press conference here this morning.

Karpal added that he hoped that with this loss, Dr Mahathir would quit interfering with the affairs of the country.

On PAS retaining the seat with a reduced majority, the Bukit Gelugor MP insisted this was no major sign of any shift in support.

“A reduction in majority doesn’t mean PAS has no support as we must take into account the millions spent by BN during the campaign period,” he said.

The Sungai Limau state seat was vacated after the late PAS leader Tan Sri Azizan Abdul Razak, who has been the state assemblyman there for five terms since 1995, passed away on September 26.

Azizan’s protege, Mohd Azam Abd Samat, retained the seat for PAS with a 1,084 majority votes in the polls yesterday, a drop of 1,690 votes as Azizan had obtained a 2,774 majority during the May 5 polls.

During campaigning, BN had announced various allocations and funding for the mostly agro-based village that PAS had claimed were more than RM15 million in total.

Karpal’s party colleagues had echoed the same views when weighing in on PAS’s victory last night, insisting the reduced majority took no skin off the Islamist party’s nose but spelled a setback for the ruling BN that had been banking on Dr Mahathir and his son to win the polls.

DAP Kedah interim chief Zairil Khir Johari and the opposition party’s adviser Lim Kit Siang insisted that PAS’s success in retaining the Kedah state seat was a major blow to the BN’s mighty machinery under the leadership of Mukhriz, whom they claimed had followed his father’s style and pulled out all the stops in his bid to wrest Sungai Limau.

“It is clear that Mahathir’s influence has receded with this win,” Zairil, the son of a former Umno minister, told The Malay Mail Online last night after the official results announced a PAS victory by a lowered 1,084-vote margin.

He alleged BN was free with its wallet on the campaign trail but claimed such tactics had failed to dent Sungai Limau’s support of PAS despite the ruling coalition’s hopes.

“Considering all the carnivals, programmes and resources they have put into the campaign, any kind of victory by PAS, against all odds, even with a lesser majority, is considered a great success,” Zairil said.

When contacted, Lim reiterated his previous statement that PAS’s latest win in Kedah was the third and probably final, setback to the election playbook he named “Mahathirism” in the six months after the May 5 general election.

“This is his third setback in six months and this showed that he has failed to make any mark even in this by-election in Kedah,” the Gelang Patah MP told The Malay Mail Online.

The veteran opposition politician alleged that Dr Mahathir had mounted a campaign of “lies, falsehoods and character-assassination”, which he added, had formed the staple tactic ahead of polling day in Sungai Limau.

Lim noted that it was similar to the campaign his 88-year-old arch foe had initiated against him ahead of the 13th general election, citing Dr Mahathir’s accusations that he was contesting in Gelang Patah to make the Chinese “dislike and hate the Malays”, and claiming that the DAP wanted to remove the Malays from political dominance to set up a Christian state.

Out of the 27,222 registered voters in that constituency, only 23,249 or 85.5 per cent voters turned out to cast their votes yesterday compared to 89.43 per cent voters during the 13th general election in May.