PETALING JAYA • A top leader of Malaysia's ruling alliance Pakatan Harapan (PH) has stressed the importance of fulfilling its election promises, along with managing economic issues and racial ties in the aftermath of its first by-election defeat last week, since storming to power eight months ago.
"I believe this result will be a reminder to the leaders of Pakatan that we must be aware of the people's frustrations with regard to the economy and cost of living," Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said in a statement on Sunday. "We must work harder to fulfil the GE14 (last general election's) manifesto and handle issues of race or religion for the good of all."
The opposition Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition won by a big margin in the Cameron Highlands by-election on Saturday, its first victory after losing in four previous by-elections since the May general election.
BN leaders saw the victory as a referendum on the "poor" performance of PH since it came to power, especially the failure to fulfil several of its election promises, such as reducing the cost of living and removing highway tolls. Other BN leaders say the results showed that Malay voters are solidly behind BN, which is led by Malay nationalist party Umno.
BN candidate Ramli Mohd Nor, 61, won with 12,038 votes to the 8,800 votes polled by the PH's Manogaran Marimuthu. Independent candidates Wong Seng Yee and Sallehudin Ab Talib received 276 and 314 votes, respectively. The turnout was 68.8 per cent, with 21,428 votes tallied and 568 spoilt votes.
Mr Ramli's 3,238-vote majority is a sharp increase from the 597-vote margin secured by BN's C. Sivarraajh in the 14th General Election.
Meanwhile, other PH leaders chose to look to the positive side of the loss, saying BN and its ally Parti Islam SeMalaysia (PAS) had simply retained the same level of support, while PH received an increase in the percentage of votes.
PH leader and Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the four-party alliance secured 3 percentage points more votes in Cameron Highlands than in the last general election.
"I don't see how Barisan can take this as a big success because Cameron Highlands has always been a Barisan stronghold," said Mr Khalid Abdul Samad, the communications director of PH component Parti Amanah Negara.