Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Millions of ringgit spent, but victory eludes BN

ANALYSIS The BN may like to think that it achieved a moral victory in the just concluded Sungai Limau by-election by slashing the PAS majority by half. However, this is not the case if one scrutinises the results closely.

The BN reduced the May 5 general election majority of PAS, by 1,690 votes, from 2,774 to 1,084 votes in yesterday's by-election, despite dishing out about RM15 million in allocations to the Sungai Limau constituency and its people.

In this, it must be noted that close to 4,000 eligible voters did not vote this time around.

This works out to a shocking figure of RM8,800 per voter, and by any standard, the amount is excessive and smacks of wastage of public funds and usage of government machinery.

NONEIt is no secret that the entire government machinery - supported by taxes paid by the citizens - was used to draw votes from PAS to the BN candidate Ahmad Sohaimi Lazim, 53, a university lecturer.

Minister after minister, including Deputy Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin and Kedah Menteri Besar Mukhriz Mahathir, planned their daily schedules around Sungai Limau, sometimes, much to the amusement of the local folk.

According to PAS, RM5.5 million was distributed to religious secondary schools, RM2.25 million to Chinese national-type schools and RM1.2 million to 12 other schools.

The BN government also gave out RM1.18 million on housing (for Felda settlers) and free spectacles, RM1 million to repair houses, RM802,700 to the Bantuan Azam Tani Mara programme, RM2.5 million for artificial reefs and RM500,000 for fishing jetties.

The amount does not include RM300,000 to the Simpang Empat mosque, RM118,000 in handouts to Kafa (religious pre-school) teachers and 33 other mosques, RM30,000 in Tekun loans and RM19,700 as Agrobank tithe (zakat).

A whopping RM32,258 on each extra vote

Yet, the BN only increased its overall votes by 465, from 10,520 on May 5 to 10,985 yesterday, a figure too low if one considers the amount of efforts, activities and money poured into the constituency for the Nov 4 by-election.

sg limau vote counting 041113 mukhrizAnd if we divide the RM15 million spent by just 465 votes, what we get is a whopping RM32,258! That was how much money was spent just to capture one extra vote for the BN, against its GE13 performance.

Although BN can boast about reducing the PAS majority by 1,690 votes, only one-third or 465 more people voted for the Umno candidate.

Even in a hardcore BN area such as Sungai Kering, where the coalition's command centre was based, the votes for PAS increased from 70 to 79, even though the former took the lead there.

During the 12-day campaign that began on Oct 23, BN has been trying to capture the attention of the young voters with various programmes for youths, but the by-election details again prove that the coalition failed in this arena as well.

The BN did pull in the young voters in its hardcore areas of Dulang Besar and Dulang Kecil while PAS, despite being accused of conservatism and inability to bring about development, did win over young voters in various polling centres, especially in its strong areas of Bukit Besar and Bukit Choras/Gelam 3.

Perhaps it was PAS candidate Mohd Azam Samat's promise to fight for better WiFi coverage and Internet access for the youths that drew the younger ones to his side?

Mukhriz humbled himself to attract the youth

While Mukhriz tried hard to endear the youths to BN, even at times humbling himself by coming to meet them on a motorbike and in a sarong, the party's candidate, an older man, could have been inappropriate compared with 37-year-old Azam.

NONEAzam, a father of five, has a youthful and cheerful demeanour compared with his opponent Sohaimi (left), who though good natured and friendly, looks a little haggard and appears to be lacking in energy or the oomph! to take on the youth that makes up about 23 percent of the 27,222 voters in the seat.

As a religious teacher, Azam is also seen by the locals as being able to replace the late Azizan Abdul Razak, the former Kedah menteri besar under PAS, who won the Sungai Limau seat five times.

In yesterday's by-election, only 85.5 percent or 23,249 of the total voters came out to cast their ballot papers. This begs the question: what happened to the 3,973 people who did not turn up to vote? How could they have voted if indeed they had been present?

PAS says that as many as 3,666 outstation voters failed to return to vote as polling day was on Monday, a working day.

BN complained that this affected its supporters as well and not just those backing PAS.

So, how did the Chinese vote?

NONECould PAS have maintained its majority if at least 1,000 of its supporters returned to cast their votes?

Lastly, this by-election leaves us with the question of how the Chinese community voted.

According to Mukhriz, 60 percent of Chinese votes went to BN and Gerakan national Youth chief Tan Keng Liang maintained that the community "rejected" Pakatan Rakyat this time.

However, Mukhriz appears to base his information only on the polling centre at SRJK (C) Aik Min, which is a predominantly Chinese area.

This trend may not have been the same at the other polling centres.

"Also, for polling centres with more Chinese voters, for example, SRJK (C) Aik Min showed 794 Chinese voted for BN as opposed to 397 for PAS.

At SMK Sungai Limau, 874 Chinese voted for BN against 768 for PAS and at SK Sungai Limau, 963 voted for BN versus 627 for PAS.

However, PAS led with 677 votes against BN's 646 at  SRJK (C) Pei Hwa.

And, even for a Chinese majority area, the figures are too low to make an overall impact, especially after Muhyiddin approved an allocation of RM2.25 million for three Chinese schools, with RM1 million for SRJK (C) Aik Min, which only has 15 pupils.

Can the BN therefore still claim that it obtained a "victory over defeat" as Wanita Umno chief Sharizat Abdul Jalil touted? 

The outcome of the Sungai Limau by-election speaks for itself.

~ Malaysiakini

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