Datuk Seri Dr. Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s solid and impressive win in the Permatang Pauh by-election paves the way for her to be re-elected as Parliamentary Opposition Leader.
UMNO/Barisan Nasional leaders had belaboured under the mirage that the Permatang Pauh by-election was a “once-in-a-lifetime” opportunity to wrest back the seat which for the past 17 years had been the command-and-communications centre for political change and the concept of Ketuanan Rakyat.
Despite UMNO Vice President Datuk Seri Zahid Hamidi’s promise of “shock and awe” at the beginning of the by-election, the UMNO/Barisan Nasional campaign, which was one of the dirtiest and dishonest in Malaysian election history exploiting and abusing the social media with lies and falsehoods, fizzled out and did not even materially improve on UMNO/BN’s share of the total votes cast.
UMNO/BN had the Election Commission to be grateful and thank, for if the polling had been held on a weekend, allowing more voters from outstation to return to vote, and the voter turnout had reached 80% and not just 74% recorded yesterday, Azizah would have no problem securing a bigger majority than the 11,721-vote majority won by Anwar Ibrahim in the 2013 general election (when voter turnout was as high as 88.2%).
Azizah’s victory in the Permatang Pauh by-election is a signpost that the future lies with inclusive politics – which embraces all Malaysians, regardless of race, religion or region – and not with sectarian or exclusive politics bound to any single race or religion or the politics of dishonesty, either by peddling lies or delivering different political messages to different communities as UMNO/BN campaigners were guilty of in the by-election.
A lot of political pyrotechnics were staged during the Permatang Pauh by-election which attracted media publicity and frenzy, but the results showed that voters are more level-headed and have more common sense to be swayed by such histrionics and media hypes.
There are lessons to be learnt by Pakatan Rakyat parties from the Permatang Pauh by-election – the urgent need to regain the confidence, hope and trust of the majority of the national electorate who had voted for PR in the 13th General Election.
There is no future for Pakatan Rakyat if the three PR parties cannot restore the confidence of Malaysians who had placed such high hopes and trust in Pakatan Rakyat.