Pakatan Harapan’s latest loss in Kimanis – the fifth in a string of losses – is putting pressure on the coalition, say analysts, pointing to underdevelopment, internal political conflict and unfulfilled manifesto as some of the reasons for their defeat.
Universiti Teknologi MARA (UiTM) Faculty of Communication and Media Studies lecturer Assoc Prof Datuk Dr Ismail Sualman said the prolonged issue of underdevelopment, internal political conflict and unfulfilled manifesto pledges by the Pakatan-led government may have influenced Warisan’s loss in the Kimanis by-election.
“Although Umno’s win in Kimanis may not represent the whole Sabahan support, the result gives a signal to Pakatan to look into what they can change internally in order to gain political support, ” he said.
The political analyst urged the parties in Pakatan to sit together to solve the uncertainty and instability affecting the coalition.
“The issues arising from the much-discussed handover of leadership from Tun Dr Mahathir to Anwar Ibrahim is causing the coalition’s integrity to be questioned, and it is crucial for them to resolve this, ” he said.
In Beaufort, political analyst Rahezzal Shah said Barisan Nasional’s win in the Kimanis by-election has changed the dynamics of Sabah politics.
He said the win by Sabah Umno’s Datuk Mohamad Alamin was a boost to the party which was at a low after the 2018 general election following a spate of defections to Pakatan.
“It boosts Umno’s confidence especially in Sabah and dispels the common belief that Sabah Umno is buried after the 2018 exodus that left them almost paralysed, ” said Rahezzal yesterday.
Sabah Umno saw a massive exodus of its top leaders in December 2018 including its state chief Datuk Seri Hajiji Mohd Noor who joined Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia when it spread its wings to Sabah in April 2019.
Sabah Umno also lost most of its partners after GE14 with Upko under Datuk Wilfred Madius Tangau becoming partners in the Parti Warisan Sabah-led state government.
Other component parties to leave after the fall of the Barisan state government were Parti Bersatu Sabah (PBS), Parti Bersatu Rakyat Sabah (PBRS) and Liberal Democratic Party.The Kimanis by-election saw Barisan working loosely with PBS and PBRS as well as former Kimanis MP Datuk Seri Anifah Aman, who left Umno in September 2018, that some observers believe could see a new political alignment between local-based opposition parties and Barisan.
On the issue of the controversial Sabah Temporary Pass (PSS) issue that dominated the Barisan campaign against Warisan’s Datuk Karim Bujang, Rahezzal said that they would have to see if the state and federal governments would delay or shelve the PSS.“Would the government postpone the implementation of PSS? This again depends on whether voters were actually swayed by PSS or other issues?
“The best way to know this is by comparing previous election data in Kadazandusun areas as many believe that the issue had more impact among the Kadazandusuns compared to the Muslim bumiputra areas, ” he said referring to the Kimanis voters who comprised about 20,000 ethnic Brunei Malays and some 20,000 bumiputra Muslims.
Rahezzal said that most people believe PSS was one of the major issues that affected voters but there was some indication that there are other issues that were brewing steadily against both the Warisan-led state government and also Barisan.
“Both Warisan and Barisan should be careful in assessing this result and not focus solely on PSS as the key determinant, ” he added.
Tan Sri Rahim Thamby Chik, formerly from Umno but who has joined Bersatu, said a tectonic shift in the Malaysian political landscape was probably inevitable, as the Tanjung Piai and Kimanis by-elections reflect overwhelming disenchantment against Pakatan.
Pakatan, he claimed, has become a political liability to Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad.
“Pakatan Harapan is no longer an asset that could be utilised to fulfil the aspiration of the people who voted for change to enjoy a better life in GE14.
“Dr Mahathir needs a more healthy and stable alliance to ensure people’s aspirations and expectations are fulfilled, ” he said when asked to elaborate on a statement posted on his Facebook.
He said a healthy alliance that was devoid of internal power struggle and dirty political games was desperately needed, adding that Pakatan had paid a high price because of such behaviour.
Political analyst Prof Dr Sivamurugan Pandian said that the outcome in Kimanis was a sign that Umno still had a strong hold over its loyal supporters in the constituency.
“Both parties put forward good candidates and machinery, but the results show that Pakatan has to re-evaluate its position and campaign strategy in Sabah.
“I think Warisan should focus on what they can and have done for the state, rather than focus on the faults of the previous government, ” he said.
The Universiti Sains Malaysia social science lecturer said in the Kimanis by-election campaign, Warisan president Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal focused at length on blaming the previous government.
Sivamurugan said despite Warisan’s hold on the state and good ties with Pakatan, the party failed to convince voters to support the ruling government.
“Although many have left Umno in Sabah, the party managed to retain its support and base in the constituency, ” he said.
Sivamurugan also said Warisan should have better ties with Bersatu, in order to achieve better support in future.
“Pakatan will be under pressure after losing the by-election, as the impression may be that the party is losing momentum, trust and confidence of the people, ” he said.