Embattled PM wins by-elections in Malaysia

Bangkok Post
19 Jun 2016

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s ruling party won two parliamentary by-elections Saturday that were closely watched for indications of whether graft allegations hounding Prime Minister Najib Razak were affecting his governing coalition’s support.

The results in two mainly rural constituencies were largely expected, as support typically runs strong in such areas for the dominant United Malays National Organisation (UMNO).

The UMNO-led ruling coalition also enjoys huge advantages in money and machinery over a splintered opposition.

UMNO candidate Budiman Mohamad Zohdi won the parliamentary seat of Sungai Besar of west-central Malaysia, while Mastura Mohamad Yazid won the Kuala Kangsar constituency seat in the country’s north, the election commission announced.

Both candidates also pulled off a thumping victory as predicted.

The contests — held after the previous incumbents died together in a helicopter crash in May — are the first parliamentary electoral contests since the corruption allegations emerged last year.

But for the second time in as many months, the results provided relief for Najib and his ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition.

Last month, the BN scored a thumping victory in Sarawak state assembly polls to extend its decades-old control of that stronghold state.

“The victory in both the constituencies (on Saturday) will enable Najib to entrench himself as the powerful leader of UMNO,” said Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore.

UMNO benefited in Saturday’s contests from opposition discord.

It had faced candidates from the Pan-Malaysian Islamic Party (PAS) and Amanah, a new party comprising mostly former PAS members.

Amanah’s members split acrimoniously from PAS last year, largely over the latter’s increasing Islamic conservatism.

Experts say that likely split the votes of the Muslim ethnic Malays who are the country’s majority group.

Najib faces allegations that billions of dollars were plundered from a state-owned investment fund he founded.

The accusations, which burst forth last year, include the revelation Najib received at least $681 million in deposits to his personal bank accounts in 2013.

Najib and the state fund, 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB), deny wrongdoing.

But Najib has fuelled suspicions by shutting down domestic investigations and sidelining critics, while shoring up his hold on power.

Authorities in a half-dozen countries are investigating 1MDB money flows, however, and Switzerland and Singapore have frozen millions of dollars in assets.

Najib led the BN — in power since independence in 1957 — to its worst-ever showing in 2013 national elections amid voter concerns over the economy, corruption and alleged government repression.

Malaysia’s opposition had sought to highlight the 1MDB issue in campaigning for Saturday’s polls, but analysts say the issue carries little weight with masses of Malays who have been raised on UMNO control.

  1. #1 by Bigjoe on Sunday, 19 June 2016 - 9:09 am

    To be honest, Najib has done the nation a favour by playing out Hadi’s PAS arrogance and foolishness. On Najib’s lap is the opportunity to change the course of Malaysian politics away from the religo-racist dyfunctionality that has hampered the nation and still current direction could ruin us all despite the their current euphoria of a pivotal win.

    Unfortunately, the prodigal leader are more inclined to keep pressing on the current course for their own greed and self- interest. Hence, Hadi’s PAS political vision is proven nonsensical and foolishness, the fact remain, Najib’s and UMNO political position now is a steeper wall to climb. Only economic failure will turn it around.

    All the talk of PAS returning to Pakatan is foolishness. While it matters, truth is PAS is a declining force.

  2. #2 by SuperString on Sunday, 19 June 2016 - 12:57 pm

    A battle is lost but the war against corruptions continues

  3. #3 by boh-liao on Sunday, 19 June 2016 - 1:42 pm

    Dumb politicians are not the problem
    The problem is the dumb people who keep voting for them

  4. #4 by drngsc on Sunday, 19 June 2016 - 3:44 pm

    Kit, LGE and DAP leadership. You all will have to take a long hard look at your self and your policies. The Chinese no longer have faith in you. Even before the two buy elections, I have warned that teaming up with Mamak is a bad and grievous mistake. Many Chinese have told me when I speak to them for donations and support that DAP has changed, even prepared to work with the snaky and evil Mamak. You refuse to listen. I warn that you power base will desert you. You refuse and continue to hold the hands of Mamk, take photos with him and share stage with him. The Chinese in Sekinchan old me that they would no longer support DAP as DAP has changed and no longer stand on their principles to fight against evil and injustice. Mamak is the personification of all things evil in Putrajaya. His “Citizens Declaraton” will get no where. If Najis dares to ignore Agong and gazette the NSC bill, what do you think he will care about Agongs opinion on “Citizen’s Declaration”? I was shock that seasoned politician like Kit / LGE / Tony Pua could not see this. Now the Chinese have again taught you all a lesson. Half of Sekinchan ( a DAP strong hold ) deserted you, either be refusing to caste their vote, or spoil their vote, or voted against you. Please learn your lesson. Leave Mamak alone. Keep up the fight that you have been doing for the past 60 years. Do not deviate from your original struggle. Mamak is a has been. He is evil. The other issue that the Sekinchan folks tell me, is your failure and Amanah’s failure to denounce hudud unequivocally. They also felt betrayed. You all were not like this before. You were strick and clear in your message. PLEASE LEARN THE LESSONS and learn it fast. We on the ground are even finding it difficult to raise support for DAP. Please take note and please make the necessary corrections and remedies.

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