Umno wins big in Malacca

K. Kabilan Noel Achariam

Barisan Nasional supporters celebrate the coalition’s huge success in the Malacca polls at its command centre in Ayer Keroh, Malacca. – The Malaysian Insight pic by Nazir Sufari, November 20, 2021.

UMNO made a triumphant return to power in Malacca by leading Barisan Nasional (BN) to a huge victory in the state polls, with the coalition winning 20 of the 28 state seats announced as at press time, returning to form a new government with a two-third majority.

Umno, boosted by Najib Razak’s campaigning, won 17 of the seats, followed by MCA (2) and MIC (1).

Umno is also leading in the final seat, Pengkalan Batu, where it is involved in a tight race with DAP.

At the other end, both Perikatan Nasional (PN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) suffered embarrassing losses despite heading into the polls with much confidence.

For PN, Bersatu won two seats while its allies PAS and Gerakan failed to win anything.

As for PH, the Anwar Ibrahim-led pact won five seats – four by DAP and one by Amanah, while PKR failed to win any seats.

PKR contested in 11 seats, and among its big names to lose include PKR information chief Shamsul Iskandar in Paya Rumput and former Malacca chief minister and Umno leader Idris Haron at Asahan.

In the last general election Umno won 13 seats, followed by DAP (8), PKR (3), Bersatu (2) and Amanah (2).

The outcome is a huge blow to PN chairman and Bersatu president Muhyiddin Yassin and Anwar, both of whom will now have to return to the drawing board to prepare for the next general election, especially on their political alliances.

PN, which had used Muhyiddin as its poster boy in its campaigns, will also have to decide on how it should continue its relationship with Umno at the federal level.

PH conceded defeat with its secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution saying that the pact must accept the mandate of the people.

State PH chief Adly Zahari, meanwhile, attributed the coalition’s loss to low voter turnout.

The EC had announced that the voter turnout for polling was at 63%. Malacca has 476,037 voters. 

Adly, however, retained his Bukit Katil seat with a majority of just over 1,000 votes in a four-cornered fight.

The former Malacca chief minister, when PH ruled the state, is likely to be the only Amanah rep in the state legislative assembly following today’s election.

University of Tasmania political analyst Prof James Chin says it is clear that Barisan Nasional’s win in Malacca was a win for former Umno president Najib Razak. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, November 20, 2021.

Umno gearing up for GE15

Political observers believed that BN will now be primed to prove itself in the 15th general election. 

University of Tasmania political analyst Prof James Chin said that it was now clear that BN’s win in Malacca was a win for Najib.

“This also shows that BN has reversed its losses from the last general election. 

“Najib was a key person in Malacca. So, this is a big win for him. 

“If this pattern is repeated in GE15 and if Umno makes a big comeback, then it’s clear Najib will get away with his corruption trials.”

He said that the biggest losers in the elections were PN, and as for PH, it would be PKR. 

“DAP is still holding on, while PAS and Gerakan are gone. So, the only game in town is Umno and DAP, same as pre-2018 (elections).”

Chin also did not discount the fact that the limited campaigning had affected the outcome of the polls. 

“This is a very strange campaign where there was a limited campaigning, but it was also a trial run for the Sarawak polls and GE15.

“I think the Election Commission will hone the way it conducted this campaign and learn how to next run the campaigns with strict SOP.”

International Islamic University Malaysia’s Tunku Mohar Tunku Mohd Mokhtar, meanwhile, said that BN’s win showed that they have strong grassroots support in the state. 

“The grassroots would help the party win and it’s easier for the coalition to mobilise its voters to vote.

‘“Whereby, PH had depended on issues and the willingness of those who are convinced with the issues to go out and vote.”

He also said that in this election, PH was the biggest loser while PN didn’t make an impact. 

“Obviously PH is the bigger loser. It won in the last elections. The expectation was that it could at least provide a formidable challenge. PN, on the other hand, wasn’t expected to do well.”

As for the Malay-dominant party in the elections, he said that Umno was the front runner.

“But this may not be a nationwide trend yet. This is not PAS’ turf.”

Political observers previously said that a low turnout could benefit BN. In GE14 in 2018, when PH won the state, voter turnout was 84.7%.

The state elections were held after four assemblymen withdrew their support for chief minister Sulaiman Md Ali last month, leading to the dissolution of the legislative assembly. – November 20, 2021.

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