PH urged to address setbacks after Sungai Bakap defeat

PH urged to address setbacks after Sungai Bakap defeat Inset from left: Anis Anwar, Mohammad Tawfik

SHAH ALAM - Following the defeat to Perikatan Nasional (PN) in the Sungai Bakap by-election, Pakatan Harapan (PH) is advised to address the political setbacks sustained.

This is crucial to prevent the impact of the Sungai Bakap polls from extending to other areas in the state, which could affect PH's performance in future elections.

University of Malaya political science, public administration, and development studies lecturer Dr Mohammad Tawfik Yaakub said that the unity government, particularly the DAP leadership, must be prepared to take drastic action to see PH continue to be accepted by the public.

"Referring to PH's defeat in Sungai Bakap, it is not an exaggeration to suggest that the Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow should be replaced or that he should resign and take responsibility for the defeat.

"Under his leadership as Chief Minister, PH's performance in Penang has declined, especially during the 15th state election, where they lost 11 seats to PN," Tawfik told Sinar.

Tawfik added that PN's success in nearly doubling their majority in the Sungai Bakap by-election, coupled with PH's decline in support from Chinese voters, suggests a shift in voter sentiment.

"PN's success in increasing their majority by almost double indicates a shift in votes from various segments of the electorate, including Chinese, Malay, and Indian voters, showing that today's voters are pragmatic.

"They vote with wisdom to express protest and openly voice their life concerns in the election.

"This can be seen as the second green wave hitting Penang, and for the first time, a significant majority was obtained by the winning candidate in a by-election compared to Pelangai and Kuala Kubu Bharu previously," he said.

Tawfik also warned PH against assuming Chinese votes as a fixed deposit in every election.

"Evidence from the Sungai Bakap by-election shows that Chinese voters not only had a low turnout as a sign of protest but there was also a swing vote in several polling districts shifting towards PN.

"The most alarming aspect of Chinese politics is that they can change direction if their businesses are affected and unprofitable due to unfavourable policies," he said.

He further stated that Chow's time leading the Penang government should end, suggesting new leadership to restore support.

"The suitable candidate to replace Chow is the Tanjong Bunga assemblyman, Zairil Khir Johari.

"He is a young leader of mixed Chinese and Malay Muslim heritage and can restore Malay support, especially from the mainland of Penang.

"Zairil's appointment can also ease the perception that Malays are being sidelined and address the view that development in Seberang Perai is not as robust as the island part because the majority of its population is Malay," he said.

To restore its reputation, PH is advised to balance development projects between the island and the mainland, Seberang Perai, and address key issues such as water supply.

"For example, change and add LRT Penang routes in Central and Northern as well as Southern Seberang Perai to open up more rapid development opportunities in areas with a Malay majority and seats controlled by PN.

"This will soften the hearts of voters in those areas and make them happy with a state leadership that does not practice favouritism in carrying out development projects.

"Also, solve the water issues quickly, especially in Sungai Bakap, even though they lost in the by-election, to correct the negative perception of voters and the public that the ruling party only makes sweet promises during election campaigns," he said.

Providing adequate and higher allocations to Opposition state assembly members, especially PN, would demonstrate that the Penang government does not neglect Opposition areas.

Meanwhile, O2 Research chief researcher Anis Anwar Suhaimi outlined several follow-up actions that PH can take following last Saturday's defeat in the Sungai Bakap by-election.

"PH needs to clearly and accurately understand the message from the people in the ballot box.

"Without an understanding that reflects the people's voice, they will tend to develop strategies that deviate from the appropriate solutions or conduct analysis and interpretations that only please themselves.

"PH as a government should also focus not only on closing leakages but also on expanding the economic pie.

"This is because economic competition often invites racial sentiments when discussing their respective rights and interests.

"PH needs to understand the behaviour and culture of each ethnic group, especially in economic and development matters, as each group demands different forms of development," he said.

Anis Anwar added that PH needs to communicate clearly and in detail with the public, especially in the implementation of new government policies and how the government would handle the public's discomfort during the transition.

He also mentioned that PH needed to regain the support of the 2018 Barisan Nasional voters, which has eroded since the 15th General Election.

"With the support of these voters, they should be able to navigate the country's politics comfortably this term," he said.

When asked about the inappropriate remarks made by PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli during his campaign in Sungai Bakap, Anis did not deny that it was a political blunder used by the Opposition to attack the government's administrative credibility.

"Maybe Rafizi intended to speak casually as a politician rather than a minister, but it also reflects an emotional expression due to his inability to convince people about the policy developments being implemented.

"Rafizi should campaign casually and explain the government's achievements at each stage and how his economic restructuring and reform formulas will progress and have an impact within the targeted timeframe.

"If the explanation is made in that approach, there is a high potential for the public to have a better sentiment towards Rafizi compared to his somewhat defensive attitude," he added.

  • https://www.msn.com/en-my/news/national/ph-urged-to-address-setbacks-after-sungai-bakap-defeat/ar-BB1pDCsg?ocid=00000000

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