KKB: PH’s collaborative efforts yield victory, PN’s momentum at a standstill - Expert

Analysts point to PH's coalition synergy and local leadership as key to victory

12 May 2024 07:02am
Pang won the by-election with a majority of 3,869 votes. - Photo by Bernama
Pang won the by-election with a majority of 3,869 votes. - Photo by Bernama

SHAH ALAM - Political analysts have stressed that Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) win in the Kuala Kubu Baharu (KKB) by-election is primarily attributed to the coalition’s cooperation as Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) ‘green wave’ has reached its peak momentum.

Nusantara Academy of Strategic Research (NASR) Senior Fellow Professor Dr Azmi Hassan said based on preliminary results, it is evident that PH’s candidate secured a substantial victory margin of 3,008 votes, which closely mirrors their 4,001 majority from the previous state election.

“This demonstrates the effectiveness of the collaboration between Umno and PH, akin to the strong ‘green wave’ witnessed in the previous state election.

"The outcome highlights the sustained momentum of support in KKB for PH, with a majority vote that reflects stable support for the coalition.

“During the early voting phase, which was predominantly Malay voters, around 70 per cent favoured PH's Chinese candidate, suggesting successful efforts by Umno to dispel concerns among Malay voters about supporting a non-Malay candidate.

“This emphasises the voters' commitment to party ideology over individual candidates, highlighting the pivotal role of party influence in the national political landscape,” he told Sinar Daily.

Azmi also highlighted that the healthy majority achieved can be viewed as an endorsement of Menteri Besar Selangor Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari, rather than a referendum on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim, who notably refrained from active campaigning.

“This strategic decision reflects the greater popularity of Amirudin among KKB constituents compared to Anwar.

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“As we await the final vote count, particularly from Malay-majority areas, the results will offer deeper insights into the acceptance and cooperation within the PH and Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition,” he added.

Concurring with Azmi’s views, Merdeka Centre for Opinion Research Programme Director Ibrahim Suffian opined that the results are notable as they illustrate that while both sides have distinct advantages, PN may have reached its peak momentum within the Malay community.

“The outcome highlights the resilience of PH supporters, who rallied behind their candidate despite internal disagreements.

“Given the by-election's location in an out-of-town area, the commitment of core supporters was crucial in ensuring support, particularly when swing voters opted not to participate, evident in the lower voter turnout of 62 per cent,” he said.

Answering to the question of whether PH candidate Pang Sock Tao's victory was primarily due to support for her as an individual candidate, an endorsement of PH as a coalition, or an affirmation of PH leader Anwar's influence, Ibrahim suggested that the outcome reflected a blend of all these factors.

“PH supporters have demonstrated ongoing loyalty not only to individual candidates like Pang but also to the broader PH coalition and its prominent leaders, such as Anwar and Amirudin,” he added.

Ibrahim also noted that further analysis is needed to assess the level of acceptance of DAP across various voter segments.

“DAP maintains strong support among non-Malay voters and may have made modest inroads among certain Umno supporters and public sector employees within the Malay community.

“However, these gains remain limited and there is a significant distance to cover.

"Looking ahead, PH must prioritise winning over younger Malay voters, especially first-time voters, as their support in this demographic remains below expectations.

“PN continues to command strong support among Malay voters but has yet to make significant headway among non-Malay voters,” he said.

Adding his perspective on PH’s KKB victory, Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Centre for Social Studies lecturer Professor Datuk Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said that while this victory may not impact PH and the Unity Government at the Federal or state level, it provides them with a morale boost, especially considering expectations for a narrower majority.

“Some may view this win as not necessarily indicative of nationwide sentiment due to the turnout, but it is likely to strengthen the working relationships within the Unity Government, which has been focused on garnering support for Pang.

“This could serve as a starting point for bridging gaps among coalition members.

"This victory reflects the multi-faceted approach undertaken by the Unity Government, which involved selecting the appropriate candidate to carry forward the late Lee Kee Hiong’s agenda and prioritise local issues.

“Efforts to discredit the candidate were unsuccessful and the campaign machinery worked diligently to connect with KKB residents, despite lower voter turnout from outside the area,” he added.

Sivamurugan also highlighted that the swing in military and police votes may be attributed to government policies, particularly the revision of salaries under Anwar's leadership.

“Since 2013, this seat has been held by DAP, reflecting their past accomplishments and setting expectations for future efforts to maintain voter support.

“However, DAP and other parties should not become complacent with this win, as the focus was primarily on KKB with centralised campaign efforts.

“To secure continued support and retain the seat, promises made during the campaign must be fulfilled, thereby earning greater backing in the future, especially with the presence of the dynamic young candidate fielded in this by-election,” he said.

Pang won the by-election with a majority of 3,869 votes. She polled 14,000 votes, defeating PN’s candidate Khairul Azhari Saut (10,131). Parti Rakyat Malaysia’s Hafizah Zainuddin (152) and independent candidate Nyau Ke Xin (188).

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