Friday, May 22, 2009

Bukit Gantang : PAS admits drop in Malay votes

By Adib Zalkapli

TAIPING, April 8 – Despite increasing its margin of victory by almost 100 per cent in the Bukit Gantang by-election, PAS today admitted that it lost some support among Malay voters. The party also suffered a minor setback in Changkat Jering, the state constituency which was represented by former PKR man Osman Jailu, who quit the party last February to back a Barisan Nasional-led government.

Party officials attributed the reduced support in Changkat Jering to BN’s strategy of fielding a local candidate. When the outcome of the election was announced last night, Datuk Seri Nizar Jamaluddin defeated local boy Ismail Saffian from Barisan Nasional by 2,789 votes.

“The drop in Malay votes, as claimed by analysts, was not that much. We expected to get around 40 per cent but we got 43 per cent,” said Perak Pas deputy chief Asmuni Awi when presenting the party’s early assessment of the by-election. In the general election last year, the Islamist party obtained 47 per cent of the Malay votes. “Even if we lost some Malay votes, the urban Malay votes saw an increase, due to better access to information,” said Asmuni.

Pas however managed to get an increase of the Chinese votes from 65 per cent last year to 75 per cent this time around. He said the political crisis, which was triggered by the takeover of the state government by BN and Nizar’s refusal to step down, had contributed to the outcome.

“If every party understands the message of the people, the dissolution of the state assembly must not be delayed,” said Asmuni, reiterating the party’s stand that the by-election was a referendum on the newly-formed Perak government. He admitted that the battle was close but was happy with the outcome.

“This has been an Umno stronghold. We had never made inroads here until the last general election,” said Asmuni. – The Malaysia Insider

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