The octogenarian vehemently said: “Menang PN punya. BN bayang pun tak nampak. (PN surely wins. Even BN’s shadow can’t be seen).”
To him and others in the tiny state, the facts were simple. Perikatan Nasional (PN) had put in the work to win the state. Their representatives were well-known and made the rounds tirelessly, going house to house, as did a few reps from Pakistan Harapan (PH). Barisan Nasional (BN) reps? Nowhere to be seen, said dad and his friends.
What sealed the deal was PN’s coup in signing up Datuk Seri Shahidan Kassim when he was dropped by Umno and BN, which assuredly gave the former the Arau parliamentary seat plus the five state seats in the constituency.
With 15 state seats up for grabs in Perlis, BN was not able to win a single seat. PN emerged victorious with 14 seats, losing Indera Kayangan to PH’s Gan Ay Ling. Though Gan retains the seat she won in 2018 with a lower majority of 1,873 votes, compared to 3,177 in GE14, kudos to her for withstanding the PN tidal wave and being the sole non-PN representative in the northern state. She won against PN’s Ramoot Puan who garnered 2,957 votes, BN’s Lim Weng Khee (1,882) and Parti Warisan Sabah’s Atan Jasin (736).
The total wipeout of BN in Perlis can be attributed to the anger and dissatisfaction with the former ruling party over a few issues. The major issue, also true for other states such as Terengganu and Kedah where BN didn’t win a single seat, was the kleptocracy perceived still strong in Umno. This gained strength when party president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi decided to defend his Bagan Datuk seat despite numerous charges pending in court.
Thus, the rallying call Undi BN, Undi Zahid (a vote for BN is a vote for Ahmad Zahid), which saw the fall of Perlis to PN and the end of the road for Umno politicians such as Khairy Jamaluddin and Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz.
Then, the state issues revolving around Umno dropping the popular Shahidan and parachuting an outside candidate in the Padang Besar parliamentary constituency. The anger these two issues caused, plus the dissatisfaction that has been building up with ex-Mentri Besar (MB) Datuk Seri Azlan Man’s administration, were enough to shut out Umno and BN totally. Azlan, the state’s BN chairman, only garnered 2,996 votes compared to 7,325 votes for PN’s Fakhrul Anwar Ismail. Many were disenchanted with the former MB as he was seen as only looking after his and his cronies’ interests.
His candidate selection made things worse, fielding candidates deemed to kow-tow to him, as Shahidan and other expected strong first-time candidates were sidelined.
Can BN recover and win back Perlis in five years time?
Only time would tell. At the moment, many feel that PN should be given a chance to govern. The sentiment being even if they don’t bring much progress, at least they care for the rakyat more.
Therefore, Umno and BN have to pull their acts together, identify strong candidates from Perlis and start doing the groundwork from next year. (They can have the rest of this year to lick their wounds.) Failure to do so would see Perlis remaining in PN’s hands.
In the meantime, I’m going to sit back and cheer for the solo Opposition rep in my home state. No worries, she’s no stranger to working for the rakyat.
Hazatul Syima Haron is the executive editor, production, at The Malaysian Reserve.
- This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition