With just over 9,500 votes collected at the Sg Kandis poll despite PAS support, Umno polled less than half of the total votes that went to the two parties at the May elections.
- Low voter turnout, reduced majority
- UMNO-PAS cooperation failed to undermine PKR
- Fading appeal of racial politics
- PKR’s support generally remained intact
- BN achieved fewer votes now than in GE
Ibrahim Suffian, director of independent pollster Merdeka Centre, said the result signalled Umno’s failure to court support for its race-based campaign and an unconvincing showing for a party that once enjoyed unwavering Malay support to remain in power for over 60 years.
“After discounting the lower turnout, the results show PKR’s support has generally remained intact among Sungai Kandis voters,” Ibrahim told the Malay Mail.
“The majority numbers don’t mean much because it’s almost a straight fight and turnout was a lot less.
“BN should go back to the drawing board and figure out their positioning and messaging as they achieved fewer votes now than in GE,” he added.
The result showed that 15,427 voters in Sungai Kandis opted to have Mohd Zawawi as their new assemblyman. A total of 9,585 of the voters chose Lokman Noor, while Independent candidate K Murthy managed to get 97 votes.
Mohd Zawawi obtained a majority of 5,842 votes, lower than that obtained by the late Mat Shuhaimi Shafiei in the GE14, which was by 12,480 votes.
The percentage of voter turnout showed that only 49.4% of the voters in the constituency exercised their rights, down from the 85% turnout recorded on May 9, and against the 80% targeted by the Election Commission (EC).
The constituency has 50,800 voters comprising 72% Malays, 12% Chinese and 16% Indians.
Throughout the two-week campaign trail, Umno’s race rhetoric went into overdrive. Some leaders delivered speeches at “ceramah” programmes with messages aimed at playing up Malay insecurities and describing the Pakatan Harapan (PH) government as one led by minorities who are either anti-Malay or anti-Islam.
Others played up conspiracy theories about so-called attempts to Christianise Malaysia, an allegation often used against the DAP.
Yet the strategy was ineffective.
The call by PAS leaders for the party supporters to support the BN candidate in the by-election also failed to make an impact, especially with the PKR candidate, Mohd Zawawi Ahmad Mughni, known for his “clean record” as a maahad tahfiz principal.
A political analyst from Universiti Sains Malaysia, Prof Sivamurugan Pandian said the cooperation between PAS and Umno did not work out this by-election, possibly because of PAS supporters not coming out to vote following the party’s decision not to contest.
“Apart from that, issues raised by BN were also not suitable for the situation in Sungai Kandis. The by-election was also held just after the last general election and voters think the result would not bring much change to the situation in Selangor,” he told Bernama.
A senior lecturer at the Faculty of Administrative Science and Policy Studies, Universiti Teknologi Mara, Raub campus, Che Hamdan Che Mohd Razali also shared Sivamurugan’s views that on the PAS-Umno relation with supporters from both parties against it and had carried out a silent protest by not going to vote.
“Other factors include that the BN candidate is not a local, and issues played up by BN, especially on Islam and Malays had no impact in Selangor,” he added.