|PAS retains Permatang Pasir|
PAS has won the Permatang Pasir state seat by-election in Penang today with a majority of 4,451 votes.
The majority however had decreased by nearly 900 votes since the last general election which saw the party winning by 5,433 votes.
The Election Commission announced that PAS candidate 55-year-old candidate Mohd Salleh polled 9,618 votes while BN’s Mohd Rohaizat Othman, 38, garnered 5,067.
Voter turnout had also decreased this time around to 73 percent which the Election Commission chief Abdul Aziz Yusof blamed on the A(H1N1) outbreak.
In the previous election, the turnout was 82.6 percent.
The result of the by-election was announced by Returning Officer Roslan Yahaya at 7.25pm at the Dewan Perdana of the National Youth Skills Institute in Bukit Mertajam.
‘Thank you all’
Supporters of Mohd Salleh in the hall applauded soon after the result was announced.
Among the leaders present at the Dewan Perdana were the PAS election director Mahfuz Omar and Penang Deputy Chief Minister I Mansor Othman.
After the result was announced, Mohd Salleh alighted from the stage and had dates for the breaking of the fast. The BN candidate was not seen in the hall.
“I thank the voters of Permatang Pasir and party workers.
“I also thank everyone else for contributing to this victory. It is a big victory for Pakatan Rakyat it is the result of our coalition’s close cooperation,” said the PAS man.
The by-election in the heart of Anwar Ibrahim’s parliamentary stronghold of Permatang Pauh was held following the death of PAS state assemblyperson Mohd Hamdan Abd Rahman on July 31.
This is the eighth by-election since the March 8 polls last year.
With this victory, Pakatan Rakyat has taken seven with BN only emerging victorious in Sarawak’s Batang Ai contest.
Voting trend has not changed
Opposition leader and Pakatan Rakyat supremo Anwar said the victory reflected the people’s trust in the opposition alliance.
“Today’s result proves that the people have rejected the divisive politics of Umno/BN,” he added in a statement.
PAS vice-president Mahfuz described the victory as a ‘birthday gift’.
“This is the second birthday gift for me after winning my lawsuit against Berita Harian (last week).
“I’m now 52. I usually celebrate with my wife and children and this year I celebrate with the candidate and party colleagues. It is a very precious birthday gift,” he said.
Mahfuz said the results show that the trend set in 2008 hasn’t changed.
“The only thing that has changed was the voter turnout (a reduction of) about nine percent.
“That doesn’t mean that there is a change in voter attitude towards PAS. After all, it is a working day,” he said.
“This is a step forward from what was achieved in Manek Urai. It is significant milestone, which well exceeded my prediction of winning by one-vote. The balance 4,550 is a bonus,” he added.
Victory over the crony system
PAS researcher Dzulkifly Ahmad said the results showed that Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak has not made improvements.
“I don’t want to say this is a referendum in retrospect, but the fact is, he has not regained lost ground,” he added.
Welcoming the results, Penang Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said it was a victory for the people and reflected the rejection of the ‘crony system’ practiced by BN.
“I have confidence that Salleh will continue to serve the people diligently, just as how the late-Hamdan had done,” he added.
Personal attacks not the cause for defeat
BN’s Rohaizat meanwhile accepted the outcome, saying that it reflected a democratic decision.
He congratulated Mohd Salleh and hoped that the PAS man would fulfil his obligations as an elected representative.
He also brushed aside talks that personal attacks on him were the reason for the voters to turn away from him.
“That’s not true. If you look at the results, the votes I got today were consistent with what BN obtained during the 2008 general election. That shows the support for us is the same,” he told Malaysiakini.
Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin also agreed with Rohaizat on the level of support for BN.
He said that if the voters were swayed by the personal attacks on Rohaizat, they would have rejected him outright without giving him almost the same number of votes as they did for BN in 2008.
He said that the reasons for the defeat were that Permatang Pasir was Anwar’s area, it was a PAS stronghold, the semi-urban constituency preferred PAS and voters were not interested in development.
He also said that there were more Chinese voters in Permatang Pasir than in Manek Urai where BN only lost by 65 votes to PAS.