KUALA LUMPUR - Malaysia’s opposition Perikatan Nasional (PN) on Wednesday gained a major victory in a parliamentary ward considered to be a stronghold of Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s Pakatan Harapan (PH), underlining the impact of a “green wave” of support that PN is gaining in many Malay heartlands in the country.
Datuk Azman Nasruddin won the Padang Serai ward in Kedah by a commanding 16,260 vote majority, the biggest recorded in the ward since 1995. He was a former PH leader who defected to PN as part of the departures that crippled PH administrations at both federal and state levels in 2020.
His win means PN has swept 14 out of 15 parliamentary seats in Kedah in the 2022 General Election, and the “green wave” of renewed support for the two-year-old coalition has shown no signs of abating, despite PH and Barisan Nasional (BN) forming the federal government on Nov 24, five days after the elections resulted in a hung Parliament.
The Padang Serai election was delayed after PH’s initial candidate for the ward, incumbent Karupaiya Mutusami, died days before the polling day on Nov 19, forcing the Election Commission to postpone the polls.
Datuk Seri Anwar’s Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) had won the Padang Serai seat for three consecutive terms since 2008, and the seat was considered one of the strongholds for the PKR-led Pakatan Harapan coalition. During the general election, PH managed to retain only the Sungai Petani parliamentary seat in the northern state.
Mr Azman’s win means PN – the only party sitting in Malaysia’s opposition bloc – now has 74 seats in Parliament, just seven behind Mr Anwar’s PH. The latter managed to become Prime Minister after stitching together support from BN and several regional parties to achieve a two-thirds majority in Parliament.
The result will also put PN in good stead for six state assembly elections that are due to be held by the second half of 2023.
Three of those states – Kedah, Terengganu and Kelantan – are already controlled by PN and if the recent national polls were anything to go by, it is the favourite to retain the states comfortably. PN won all 22 parliamentary seats that were contested in Kelantan and Terengganu during the elections.
The other three states that will hold assembly elections are led by PH – Selangor, Penang and Negeri Sembilan. After making inroads in several Malay heartlands in Penang and Selangor during the general election, PN will now look to increase its presence in both states.
In the other vote held on Wednesday, the BN coalition retained the Tioman state seat in Pahang, official results showed, beating a strong challenge from PN. The election was delayed due to the death of PN candidate Md Yunus Ramli just a day before the earlier polling.
After forming the federal government together, PH and BN decided to withdraw their respective candidates from the race in the two seats, with PH making way for BN in Tioman and BN paving way for PH in Padang Serai. The withdrawals among the ruling partners worked out in BN’s favour in Tioman, as it won the seat with a slim 573-vote majority against PN. However, BN’s withdrawal did little to tip the scales in favour of PH in Padang Serai, where it lost big.
BN’s Tioman win means it now has 17 seats in Pahang, which it rules along with PH. The win increases the BN-PH total in the state to 25 seats, against PN’s 17 seats.
PN is primarily led by former premier Muhyiddin Yassin’s Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia and Parti Islam SeMalaysia.