KUCHING: Why did Pakatan Harapan (PH) lose in three by-elections in a row?
After losing in the Cameron Highlands and Semenyih by-elections earlier on, PH again lost in the Rantau by-election last Saturday.
PH candidate Dr S Streram was badly defeated by BN’s Mohamad Hasan, who won with a 4,510-vote majority in the Rantau by-election.
Mohamad, who is also the Umno acting president, garnered 10,397 votes to Streram’s 5,887 while independent candidates R Malar and Mohd Nor Yassin received 83 votes and 79 votes respectively.
According to some political observers and party leaders New Sarawak Tribune talked to, the PH coalition is fast losing the support of the people since it took over the government on May 9 last year.
Utilities Minister and Kemena state assemblyman Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom said the Pakatan Harapan’s losses were the results of its failure to fulfil its promises in the 14th general election’s manifesto.
“Besides that, the people also realised that there were many “U-turns” in its decisions, and no efforts were made to alleviate the problems the country faces such as the economic issues, high living costs and hardships,” he said.
Rundi added that there was also continuous in-fighting within Pakatan Harapan and the coalition seems to be unstable with an uncertain future.
“The younger groups who were promised the moon and the stars felt they had been cheated and misled by Pakatan Harapan while the Malays felt threatened.
“In short, Malaysians have lost confidence in Pakatan government, especially with the substandard performance of its ministers…we feel they are getting us nowhere,” he said.
Meanwhile, Assistant Sports Minister Datuk Snowdan Lawan said being knocked down three times was a sign of people beginning to lose their confidence in the PH government.
“If I am lied to once or twice, I may still trust you, but thrice, I will ignore you totally,” said Snowdan when commenting on the PH’s loss in the Rantau by-election following losses in Cameron Highlands and Semenyih earlier on.
“This is the problem when you had a “shadow manifesto” and you cheated the people and made many U-turns just to hide your lies.
“This is the situation PH is facing now. It cannot deliver,” added the Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) youth chief.
Worst still, Snowdan said, the people were struggling daily to survive the high costs of living which has remained unresolved ever since the PH government took over.
He said the failure of the PH government to get a two-thirds majority in the Parliament to amend Article 1(2) of the FC (Federal Constitution) was a major blow to PH.
“Parliamentarians from Sarawak are now no longer subject to Malaya’s fancies,” he added.
Parti Bansa Dayak Sarawak Baru (PBDSB) secretary general Anthony Nais said PH’s defeats in three by-elections showed to a certain degree the people’s dissatisfaction with its performance.
“Unfulfilled election promises, appointment of clown ministers, spiralling prices of goods and costs of living and grouses of the people are taken lightly.
“Besides a functional government, we need a government for the people, of the people and by the people.
“You cannot please everybody all the time but you sure can tell by the actions and reactions of the people somewhere along the way, things must have gone wrong,” added Nais.
Veteran political observer Datuk Peter Minos said PH’s loss in Rantau meant that the coalition was becoming unpopular.
“It looks as if the peninsular voters, especially the Malays are truly unhappy and frustrated with PH.
“But why so? What went wrong with PH?” he asked.
“Worst of all, of course, the ways and actions of DAP which really spoil the name and image of PH. DAP does not seem to realise it but the Bumiputeras perceive it as an arrogant party. Sarawak DAP leaders are endlessly attacking and hammering Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS).”
Minos said initially PH was credited for pulling down former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and his kleptocratic ways but PH turned out to be a party that had failed to honour its promises.
“PH made many promises but it has failed to achieve anything, so the people are very disappointed.
“Even those who supported PH once are running away. The public perception now is that there is no difference between PH and Barisan Nasional (BN),” added Minos.
According to him, life under PH is getting harder by the day.
“Some even say that PH is worse than BN. At this rate, I see PH is doomed. It will be a one-term party. I do not see how it can improve its image and name. So long as DAP is in PH, the coalition will decline and even face a slow death,” he added.
Meanwhile, PKR president Anwar Ibrahim was quick to say that PH’s defeat in the Rantau by-election was a reminder for the ruling coalition to focus on the people’s plight.
He said the defeat was a reminder to PH leaders to continue giving appropriate attention to the people’s concerns about the economy and the costs of living.
Anwar, who campaigned relentlessly for the PH candidate, said he respected the people’s decision and congratulated Mohamad for retaining the seat.
The PKR leader also believes that PH could bounce back from its third consecutive by-election defeat.