COMMENTARY, July 5 — Barisan Nasional (BN) winning the Chini state seat was pretty much expected and the thumping victory by Umno’s candidate can be seen as an endorsement of the Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition of three Malay-based parties.
But just as importantly, it is seen as recognition of Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin as prime minister and leader of the coalition.
This is Muhyiddin’s first victory as prime minister and the landslide achieved must have tasted rather sweet as it not only gives him the mandate to lead but to refocus his attention towards steering the country out of the Covid-19 quagmire.
Mohd Sharim Md Zin won with a huge majority of 12,650 votes, trouncing two Independent candidates who were probably left in a daze.
An Umno man, Mohd Sharim Md Zain polled 13,872 votes against Independent candidates former Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) Pekan deputy division chief Tengku Datuk Zainul Hisham Tengku Hussin who obtained 1,222 votes and Mohd Shukri Mohd Ramli who polled just 137 votes from the15,231 voters who came out to vote.
Although he contested under Barisan Nasional, PN leaders had campaigned for him and the co-operation between Umno, Bersatu and PAS grassroot workers showed the effectiveness of the Malay coalition.
The state constituency which is one of the four state seats under the Pekan parliamentary constituency has 20,972 voters. Polling for the by-election was held yesterday where 73.87 per cent of voters turned up to vote.
The two weeks of campaigning was carried out in a relaxed manner and there was a total absence of any tension among the party workers — this is probably because Sharim’s opponents were lightweights.
All the same, PN had set a target of a 10,000-vote majority given the seat was BN’s the past four terms.
The 12,650 majority easily surpassed this and could also be due to the good work done by the previous assemblyman Datuk Abu Bakar Harun who died on May 7, triggering this by-election.
The margin more than doubled Abu Bakar’s previous one in 2018.The ease of the victory must also be credited to Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak as Chini is in his constituency.
The huge majority polled can also be considered as Najib’s personal victory who has been under heavy attack by his arch enemy Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad who is also gunning for Muhyiddin.
Dr Mahathir even issued a 41-paragraph open letter addressed to the Chini voters in which he attacked his two former protégés and repeated all the accusations from before where he accused Muhyiddin of betrayal and Najib a kleptocrat.
But the reality on the ground is voters did not heed any of Dr Mahathir’s words as proven during the campaign; the people were not interested in national issues but rather bread and butter ones — something which the 7th prime minister is not very good at.
For Muhyiddin and PN, this is a good beginning and as for Najib it is a recognition of his prowess in Pekan.