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The Kuala Kubu Baharu 'buy election'

The Malays by and large were not swayed by material benefits as they remained loyal to PN.

P Ramasamy
3 minute read

Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim is obviously glad that the government won the Kuala Kubu Baharu by-election.

This is understandable because there were speculations that the Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalition had the chance to lose the election.

Anyway, the result in the favour of the government is nothing extraordinary.

Low voter turnout among the races ensured that both the PH and the opposition coalition Perikatan Nasional (PN) retained their share of the votes.

Anwar must thank the Chinese voters because the lack of serious political alternative prevented them from experimenting with the other political parties or coalitions.

It is unfortunate that the Chinese voters are still caught in the entrapment of the DAP representation.

Yes, DAP wants to be more Chinese than MCA or Gerakan without offering the Chinese a future in the country.

DAP by falsely labelling itself as a multi-racial political party has disowned other ethnic groups in the country such as Indians and Malays.

Some pockets of the Malay society might have been enthralled by the sweeteners offered by Anwar in the form of increase in salary for the civil servants, but the vast majority of Malays stuck to the identity politics represented by PN.

Low voter turnout and absence of Malay voters from other states might have decreased the voter majority of PN.

At the end of the day, PN remains the best option for the Malays, not Umno or even the PKR.

By-elections in the country during the era of Barisan Nasional and under the present government provide the best opportunity to “buy elections”.

This is exactly what happened in Kuala Kubu Baharu. The announcement of RM5.21 million for development projects in Hulu Selangor and the announcement of 13% salary hike for the civil servants amounting to a whopping RM10 billion were meant for voters to shift their loyalty to PH.

How do you explain the shift of allegiance of the military and police to support the PH coalition?

The rise in the salary was the main reason. However, the Malays by and large were not swayed by material benefits as they stuck to identity politics as represented by PN.

Anwar who talked endlessly about reforms should be ashamed of himself for enticing the voters with such sweeteners to back the government.

Even the announcement of RM75 million estate housing project in Bestari Jaya to entice the Indian working class was not successful.

In Kuala Kubu Baharu, Indian voters turnout was less than 50% splitting the support between PH and PN. As a protest that begun in the 2023 state elections, Indians were daring enough to cast their votes in favour of PN.

The Anwar government might be under the mistaken belief that throwing bread crumbs at Indians might get their votes. But then, like the Malays, economic and social deprivation has manifested in identity politics among the Indians.

Years of discrimination and neglect, insults hurled at the Indian community, warnings to them not to raise "sensitive" questions about fairness in the education system, the non-representation of the majority Tamils in the Cabinet, and not the least telling the Indians not to be jealous of Malays and others, are incidents that have wounded Indians in the country.

These are the reasons why Indians shied away from PH. The trend began in the state elections last year, continued in Kuala Kubu Baharu, and has the potential to continue in the future.

What is there for Anwar to be proud of this pyrrhic victory in the Kuala Kubu Baharu by-election? Essentially, the government “bought”  the victory through the allocation of public funds.

I would not be surprised that there will be political parties wanting to take the government to the Election Court for contravening election laws. We well have to wait and see.

The Kuala Kubu Baharu by-election is not about winning, but rather, what awaits the government in the future. Malays and Indians are dissatisfied on the question of identity politics. The question is: how long the Chinese community is going to put up with the political stunts of DAP?

As someone remarked recently, while the Indians are quick to desert the PH coalition, it will take a while for the Chinese. DAP has to be exposed about its shameful and disgraceful representation.

Victory in Kuala Kubu Baharu is temporary for the Madani government. When the dust settles down, the realities of the country will have to be faced.

P Ramasamy is the former Penang deputy chief minister.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of MalaysiaNow.