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Monday, April 26, 2010

The Sour Grapes of Wrath

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Unless you’ve been hibernating the last 24 hours, you’ll probably know that BN’s P. Kamalanathan won the P94 Hulu Selangor parliamentary seat, with a majority of 1,725 votes, in a final tally of 24,997 votes, versus 23,272 for PR/PKR.

P94 Official Results, image hosting by Photobucket

A win, as they say is a win, although not quite by the margin-KPI that Deputy PM Muhyiddin Yasin predicted (via The Malaysian Insider). Nowhere close, in fact, to the 6,000 vote margin promised. Take away the postal votes (unofficially reported by Malaysian Digest via Twitter as 767 for BN), we’re talking about just around a mere 1,000 vote majority on the ground.

It’s also not known what actual significance the announced KPI has, or whether Muhyiddin would face any consequence for not meeting it. Things being the way they are, however, Walski thinks that it won’t count for squat.

PM Najib stated that the results showed a “swing-back to BN(via The Malaysian Insider). Perhaps. But with everything plus the kitchen sink thrown in during the run-up – multi-million ringgit promises of development, RM 50,000 pre-payment for each ex-FELDA settler (impeccable timing as usual), among other goodies – it would’ve been disastrous if the result had not been in favor of Barisan.

It’s no wonder, therefore, that yesterday’s exercise has been labeled by some a “buy-election”.

Which begs the question – all things considered, exactly how much was gained by BN?
(BN gains, PR losses, and more, in the full post)

One of the most succinct comments Walski came across last night, after the results were announced, came from fellow blogger-turned-Tweeter Aisehman.

Twitter comment by Aisehman, image hosting by Photobucket

And Walski would have to agree – it was a win for BN, no doubt, but by no means was it an astounding or impressive one. And while it was a loss for Pakatan Rakyat, it was a respectable loss.

As has been the case with recent by-elections, Twitter, has featured prominently as a means of disseminating up-to-the-moment information of the goings on during the Hulu Selangor by-election yesterday.

The biggest winner yesterday has to be the people of Hulu Selangor, and not any one of the competing parties. What with all the development goodies promised and all. Provided, of course, BN lives up to their promises.

Online news and analysis portal, The Nut Graph, made a list of the campaign promises made during the run up to the by-election yesterday. Bookmark the webpage for a quick future reference guide, to see exactly what gets delivered and what remain promises.

It should be noted that winning candidate P. Kamalanathan’s mission is to now, by his own admission, to ensure that whatever promises made are kept (emphasis by myAsylum).

Speaking to reporters after the result was announced, the MIC information chief also vowed not to let down the voters.

This victory is not mine. It belongs to Najib, (deputy prime minister) Muhyiddin Yassin, (MIC president S) Samy Vellu, MCA, Gerakan and all the friends of BN,” he said.

An elated Kamalanathan, 44, also said that he was touched that the people of Hulu Selangor had placed their faith in him.

“I would fulfill my responsibilities and all the election promises,” he added, pledging to work hard in order to serve his constituents.

Kamalanathan also said that he would make good on his promise to move to Hulu Selangor should he win.

“I would look into it as soon as I can. I would also meet all the voters whether they voted for me or not," he added.
(source: Free Malaysia Today)

One interesting comment made by Najib, as reported by The Malaysian Insider, was his take on how the Hulu Selangor constituents took to the campaign.

Najib, who is also Umno president and BN chairman, said the victory also meant that the residents of Hulu Selangor also rejected the opposition’s politicking ways.

“It means that if they (opposition) spread lies and slander, the voters know which is true and which is false.”

(source: The Malaysian Insider)

This, of course, begs another question – what if it’s lies and slander spread by BN? Are these okay, and to be believed?

Najib is either blind, or simply ignoring the fact that, apart from the pork-barreling promises, mudslinging and character assassination were the defining characteristics of BN’s campaign on the ground. And this tactic certainly worked in the FELDA areas, the voting demographic that PR could not win over.

Well, be that as it may, it’s all by now done and dusted, and Pakatan Rakyat accepts the defeat. It’s now time to prepare for the next “buy-election” by-election, this time in Sibu, Sarawak, in roughly about 3 weeks’ time.

It’s been said that it’s okay to lose, but don’t lose the lesson (supposedly a quote from the Dalai Lama). And Walski is sure that Pakatan has a lot to learn from the Hulu Selangor by-election loss.

And what of Zaid Ibrahim? It is human nature to make sour grape statements after a disappointing loss such as the one experienced by him and Pakatan yesterday, respectable a loss as it may have been. He is, after all, human.

“(Prime Minister Najib Razak) came to Hulu Selangor with RM67 million to spend,” he said, saying that BN won because they bought voters.

He added that the Election Commission was also party to this offence because it turned a blind eye to BN's 'corrupt' practices.

“Buying votes in daylight and in the dark have become accepted as halal,” he said while BN supporters celebrated by lighting fireworks outside the stadium.

Zaid also described the by-election as the “dirtiest and most corrupt” in Malaysian history.

(source: Malaysiakini, subscription required)

Sour these grapes of wrath may be, but one cannot deny the elements of truth – Hulu Selangor, as by-elections go, was a campaign hinged upon BN resorting to dredging up nastiness anyway it could.

Zaid, dejected as he may be, has indicated (in the same report), that yesterday’s loss doesn’t mean he won’t continue fighting for reforms in the country. And that is exactly the kind of spirit Pakatan needs to soldier on.

But this fighting spirit needs to be coupled with lessons thoroughly learned from the Hulu Selangor experience. The question now, though, is whether or not these lessons can be learned in time for Sibu – another fight, for another day…

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