PKR’s Mansor Othman has finally won an electoral battle in Penang, taking the Penanti state seat yesterday with a comfortable 5,558-vote majority over three independent candidates.
Yet, it isn’t a remarkable victory except for the fact that he broke the duck after three defeats to Umno candidates in previous outings since 1999 and is now able to take his place in the mainstream of Pakatan Rakyat politics.
Mansor, 59, secured 6,052 votes against Nai Khan Ari (494), Aminah Abdullah (392) and Kamarul Ramizu Idris (56).
But only 46.15 percent or 7,100 of the registered 15,384 voters in Penanti had bothered to cast their ballots – the lowest turnout in recent memory.
Perhaps Pakatan supporters had taken victory for granted following the decision of arch-rivals Umno not to enter the contest. The seat had been vacated on April 16 by PKR’s Mohammad Fairus Khairuddin.
During their rallies, Pakatan leaders had praised Penanti constituents for chasing Umno and BN away without a contest.
But it was clear that, without Umno, there was no spark to the contest, as one young voter put it. Drawing similarities with an action-packed Hollywood thriller, he said an exciting electoral battle needs a popular hero and a cunning villain. Penanti offered neither.
There were none of the post-election scenes witnessed when Anwar won the Permatang Pauh by-election last August by more than 15,000 votes.
Thousands had sung, danced and roared from nomination day to polling day, not only to welcome the return of their ‘king’ to active politics, but also to demonstrate their disgust with Barisan Nasional. Penanti voters had contributed 3,276 to Anwar’s total.
All up to Mansor now
Mansor, a former associate professor at Universiti Sains Malaysia, is now set to be appointed the deputy chief minister 1 in the Penang government led by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng.
Mansor, according to some observers, could be the perfect sidekick to Lim in carrying out many social programmes for lower-income groups, especially in rural areas.
However, he will have to prove himself as well as improve PKR’s performance in the state government, largely to make up for disappointment with Mohammed Fairus.
Pakatan leaders, meanwhile, may describe his win as victory for the people, rather than for the opposition coalition.
Penanti has given Pakatan a fifth straight by-election win in the peninsula since the 12th general election in March last year.
Manek Urai in Kelantan could well offer the sixth.