Home TA Online Semenyih by-election result a serious wake-up call for PH

Semenyih by-election result a serious wake-up call for PH

A long queue waiting at the crowded Penang General Hospital - ANIL NETTO/FILE PHOTO

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The Pakatan Harapan has to reevaluate its socio-economic policies if it wants to win over more Malaysians, says Anil Netto.

So Umno has won in Semenyih but what must alarm Pakatan Harapan – and the many who voted for change last year – is the 5% drop in the share of votes it received.

My take is that of course, the race and religion rhetoric might have had some impact, including the race-based fear of losing out under a new administration. This no doubt has to be managed astutely. We could also point at the superficial Bossku effect. But we would be limiting ourselves if we stop our analysis there.

The reality is that some don’t think they are any better off under the new government. So Pakatan Harapan had better reconsider its socio-economic policies, which have largely failed to capture the imagination of the people.

The government needs to focus on what ordinary people need the most: improved schools and hospitals, affordable homes, efficient public transport and affordable nutritious food.

  • So forget the third national car project and crooked bridge. Tinkering with highway toll rates is not going to win mass support either.
  • Stop thinking of new airports and other massive concrete infrastructure. Focus on the needs of the common folk.
  • Forget mySalam, which will mainly benefit a private insurance firm, and stop focusing on medical tourism, which contributes to the medical brain drain. Focus instead on universal public healthcare for all. Many ordinary folks frequent the crowded general hospitals and can see for themselves if there has been any difference since regime change. Are there any noticeable changes? Or do people still have to wait and wait and then pay extra for better quality medicines outside (if they can afford it, that is) and all sorts of other medical apparatus.
  • Build genuinely affordable housing – not the RM250,000-RM400,000 variety.
  • Forget the extravagant RM46bn transport (or developers’ land reclamation?) proposal that will literally dump sand in the rice-bowls of fishermen in southern Penang Island. Not the best way to win votes, is it? Instead focus on sustainable mobility for the whole state at a fraction of the cost.
  • Ease the problem of poverty faced by the bottom 40% of the population.
  • Look into the high cost of food – don’t look down on farming and fisheries. We need to make the country self-sufficient in food, instead of converting more and more agricultural land to industrial land and so-called “mixed development” ie mostly high-end property development. Think of food security and resilience in this era of climate change.
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The table at the bottom shows how Pakatan’s share of the popular vote has slipped from 50.8% in 2018 to 45.6% this time around – a drop of 5%. (That is even lower than its 47.5% share in 2008 though back then it had Pas in its ranks instead of Bersatu now.) Not quite disaster – but it is still a serious wake-up call.

Conversely, the Umno-Pas share rose by 4% from 46.4% in 2018 to 50.4% now. We know what that means if a general election is held now.

PSM’s share of the vote also fell from 2.8% to 2.2% this time around.

19,780 – Umno (50.4%)

17,866 – Pakatan (45.6%)

847 – PSM (2.2%)

725 – Independent (1.8%)

39,218 – Total valid votes (100%)


Pas 0.0 0.06,96615.1
PSM 0.05,56815.21,2932.8
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