Twin Malaysia By-Elections to Reveal Level of Support for Najib

by Shamim Adam
June 18, 2016

Voters in two Malaysian districts head to the polls Saturday in by-elections that will indicate the extent of Prime Minister Najib Razak’s hold on his party.

More than 42,600 people in Sungai Besar in Selangor state and 33,000 in Kuala Kangsar in the northern Perak region will pick new lawmakers after a helicopter crash last month killed incumbents from Najib’s United Malays National Organisation, or UMNO.

The vote is the first test of public support for Najib on peninsular Malaysia after a year of political turmoil over funding scandals. Losses or narrower victories could spur concern in UMNO about his ability to steer it to another win in a national election due by 2018. Equally, a strong win for seats already held by UMNO would bolster his grip.

Former leader Mahathir Mohamad has recently lost traction in his bid to convince party officials that Najib is a liability and will cost them a reign unbroken since 1957. Most UMNO divisional chiefs back the premier, even amid concerns about slowing growth and its impact on ethnic Malays, the cornerstone of the party. Convincing wins would help Najib silence the Mahathir-led murmurings about his leadership.

“Najib desperately needs these wins,” said Ahmad Martadha Mohamed, dean of the college of law, government and international studies at Universiti Utara Malaysia. “It will validate his position that despite all the problems he’s facing, they are able to win. Otherwise, his status will be in the balance, especially as president of UMNO.”

Sarawak Win

Ruling coalition Barisan Nasional, or BN, secured a bigger majority in recent elections in Malaysia’s biggest state of Sarawak, but a vote across the South China Sea on Borneo island was dominated by local issues. Voters on the peninsula may be more attuned to the turmoil surrounding the premier.

Najib, 62, has battled graft accusations since July and denied wrongdoing. He was cleared by the attorney general this year over revelations that $681 million appeared in his accounts before the 2013 election. The money was a donation from the Saudi royal family and most was later returned, the government said. The premier has also been embroiled in probes into the finances of troubled state fund 1Malaysia Development Bhd.

Ministers in Najib’s cabinet have made daily trips to the two constituencies, shaking hands and at times handing out bags of rice and other aid to the poor. They are seeking to counter an opposition focusing on questions about Najib’s credibility. In a Twitter post on Friday, Najib told voters not to taken in by what he called the opposition’s games.

‘Better Access’

“I support the opposition more than BN, but you have to also think about who has better access to the government, who can get more things done and who can improve your life,” said Mei, an ethnic Chinese fruit seller in Sekinchan town in Sungai Besar who would give only a partial name. “You have to look out for your own interests, and not what the prime minister did or didn’t do.”

A divided opposition may make it easier for BN coalition to win, and the presence of multiple candidates may assist it.

Two opposition groups are running against UMNO for both seats, while an independent candidate has turned Kuala Kangsar into a four-cornered battle.

UMNO won Sungai Besar in 2013 in a straight fight, and Kuala Kangsar in a three-way race, both by narrow margins.

Race, Religion

Racial and religious issues are coming to the fore of Malaysian politics, including the past two weeks of campaigning. UMNO, in power since independence, won the 2013 ballot by its slimmest-ever result as Chinese and Indian electors deserted Najib’s coalition.

Since then, Najib has move to woo the Malay majority. He has reached out to the opposition Parti Islam se-Malaysia and proposed they work to promote Islam’s doctrines. PAS, which is pushing for the Islamic penal code to be implemented in a state it controls, is also competing on Saturday.

Under PAS’s hudud laws, adulterers and apostates could face death by stoning, while those found guilty of theft could have their hands amputated.

About 68 percent of voters in Kuala Kangsar are Malay, 24 percent are Chinese, and Indians and other ethnicities make up the rest, according to the Bernama news agency. In Sungai Besar, Malays make up about 67 percent of voters, while 31 percent are Chinese and the rest minority groups.

“BN will need to work hard to win, as there are many Chinese who aren’t happy about hudud and the fact UMNO is trying to get close to PAS,” said Yusof Asri, a barber who lives around the Sungai Besar area, gesturing a hand being chopped off. “I’m telling all my friends to vote wisely.”

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  1. #1 by boh-liao on Saturday, 18 June 2016 - 4:14 pm

    Based on info from our msm, lots of non-Malay n Malay voters have fallen in love with UmnoB/BN again
    NO problemo 4 UmnoB 2 win handsomely in d 2 buy erections

  2. #2 by boh-liao on Saturday, 18 June 2016 - 5:52 pm

    MSiA n Gelakan claimed dat they had turned d tide of non-Malay voters
    They managed 2 educate them n open their eyes 2 finally see d light – DAP d evil political party dat led non-Malays 2 destruction n poverty (by antagonising d supreme UmnoB), as well as 2 d Hudud trap laid by PAS

  3. #3 by boh-liao on Saturday, 18 June 2016 - 7:37 pm

    So, “BN takes Jerlun, which is a 85 percent Chinese majority seat with 568 votes or 52.3 percent”

    UmnoB d darling of Chinese voters again

  4. #4 by boh-liao on Saturday, 18 June 2016 - 8:29 pm

    “7.50pm: Based on unofficial results, BN has won both the Kuala Kangsar and Sungai Besar by-elections with higher majorities.

    With BN retaining the two seats and its improved performance, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has managed to emerge victorious in what his critics such as Dr Mahathir Mohamad claimed as a referendum on his leadership.

    Apart from this, the swing in Chinese votes to BN will prove to be a difficult pill for DAP to swallow.”

  5. #5 by boh-liao on Saturday, 18 June 2016 - 8:34 pm

    Rock solid, even with all d negative happenings

    Is it bcos our voters just simply in love with UmnoB/BN?

    Is it bcos our opposition parties r just rubbish, self-mutilating, unable 2 truly work together (despite 8 years of so-called cooperation)?

  6. #6 by boh-liao on Saturday, 18 June 2016 - 8:40 pm

    AhCheat may b so encouraged with d Sarawak erection n these 2 buy erections dat he may call 4 a lightning GE 2 consolidate his throne n crown

    Remember RAHMAN – rakyat tot dat UmnoB/BN’s rule ENDs with N

    So WRONG la, actually it means dis nation remains PERMANENTLY ruled by N, no need 2 have any more successor

    D N empire continues, unchecked

  7. #7 by boh-liao on Saturday, 18 June 2016 - 9:43 pm

    A new record – UmnoB candidate herself NO need 2 personally campaign also can win one
    Banyak kuat oh

  8. #8 by boh-liao on Saturday, 18 June 2016 - 9:53 pm

    Rakyat in d two constituencies very happy with buy erections
    Cos it is OK 4 political parties 2 openly BRIBE rakyat/voters during erections
    $$$, bags of rice, electric goods, etc etc – kaya raya
    Enuf 2 forget n forgive UmnoB/BN’s 6% GST

    Of cos, rakyat pray hard more MPs n ADUNs kick d buckets
    They want MORE buy erections

  9. #9 by aaron88ong on Saturday, 18 June 2016 - 11:21 pm

    Aiyah! Last time Chinese give chance for PKR-DAP-PAS coalition. Now proven PAS & DAP cannot work together … see liao!

    Got time for PKR-DAP-Amanah to do something ah??

  10. #10 by yhsiew on Sunday, 19 June 2016 - 12:08 am

    The results of the two buy-elections (giving of goodies to lure voters) show that Najib’s “cash is king” works!

  11. #11 by boh-liao on Sunday, 19 June 2016 - 10:55 am

    Pakatan Harapan (if there is still such a messed-up group) must learn fr d corrupt n unethical UmnoB/BN
    HOW 2 gain votes
    All d fiery, exposure talks/ceramah only 4 cheap thrill n self-syiok la
    Lots of attendees but NOT translated 2 actual votes
    Give $$$, rice, electric gadgets, etc la
    Have scantily dressed dancing girls on stage as well la

    What have d opposition gained since 1998?
    Oredi 8 years [email protected] by, 8 new groups of youngsters became NEW voters
    More young voters, supposed 2 b better informed, Internet savvy voters
    Yet, it appears dat they, like their parents, fell in LOVE with UmnoB/BN n supported UmnoB/BN
    Bad news 2 d opposition

    Non-Malays r flocking back 2 d big fat BOSOMS of UmnoB/BN
    Even though UmnoB racists insulted them, asked them 2 balik kampung, etc
    UmnoB can do NO wrong

    UmnoB will certainly give donation 2 PAS so dat in d next GE, every constituency will have a minimum of THREE candidates, one UmnoB/BN n two opposition (like d pre-1998 era)
    Just let d two opposition candidates fark each other, OK oredi 4 UmnoB/BN candidate 2 win hands down

    Selangor may change sky anytime b4 d next GE
    Just watch what d PAS ADUNs do next in d coming days/ weeks/ months

    Next GE, Penang n Selangor – Guess what will happen there?
    D RETURN of UmnoB/BN?

    History always repeats itself – after two GEs, opposition political parties (although in alliance) always FARK themselves up BIG TIME
    Instead of moving forward stronger, they self-implode n fark each other kuat kuat

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