KUALA LUMPUR, March 25 ― Pakatan Rakyat leaders said they are encouraged by the greater support from ethnic Malay voters in the Kajang by-election on Sunday and are playing down the reduced voter turnout.
Opposition leaders contacted by The Malay Mail Online said the results of the poll show that Umno-Barisan Nasional's (BN) hold over predominantly Malay areas is waning.
They argued that MCA's attempts to convince voters that it would make a credible presence in the Selangor state assembly was overshadowed by Umno's presence during the campaign trail.
“The results show a major breakthrough in Malay votes. The clearest indication of this is within polling districts which have a Malay majority,” PKR strategic director Rafizi Ramli told The Malay Mail Online.
PKR's candidate Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail defeated BN's Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun with a 5,379 vote majority, a smaller figure than in the 13th general election amid a lower voter turnout.
Dr Wan Azizah garnered 16,741 votes to Chew’s 11,362 votes.
But balancing that, Wan Azizah won 59 per cent of the vote. Her PKR predecessor had won 57 per cent.
Rafizi said PKR won over two Malay-majority polling districts considered traditional Umno strongholds ― Sungai Sekamat and Taman Delima, and also reduced BN's support in two other mainly Malay areas ― Sg Kantan and Batu 10.
“Although BN retained the two areas, it did so with a reduced majority, which in itself is a win for us,” the Pandan MP added.
PAS central committee member Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad agreed.
“In the past, we did better with Chinese and Indian voters, but I believe in a mixed-race constituency like Kajang, the voting is beyond racial lines,” he told The Malay Mail Online.
PKR vice-president Nurul Izzah Anwar said that although MCA had tried to convince the electorate that it could prove to be a “credible” opposition within Selangor's PR government, its attempts were overshadowed by Umno's widespread presence during the election campaign.
“Party workers on the ground were mainly from Umno rather than MCA,” she said.
That watered down the message the MCA was trying to convey about its relevance , she added.
DAP's Nga Kor Ming said Wan Azizah increased share of the total vote showed just how much the electorate thought of MCA’s relevancy.
“This strengthens the opinion that MCA's racial politics is outdated and irrelevant. It is a morale boost for Pakatan Rakyat,” the Taiping MP told The Malay Mail Online.
As the dust settles on the by-election, many are starting to speculate about the role Wan Azizah will play in the Selangor government.
Speculation is rife that some factions within PKR are still unhappy with mentri besar Tan Sri Khalid Ibrahim and want him replaced with party deputy president Azmin Ali.
Party insiders have claimed Khalid’s tendency to unilaterally make decisions in administering Selangor has stirred dissatisfaction among PR leaders, especially PKR leaders in Selangor.
Coalition partners PAS and DAP have indicated that they will not accept Azmin as Khalid's successor.