Johor Elections

KUALA LUMPUR: It is useless to pin Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) poor performance in the recent Johor state election on lower voter turnout in order to cover up other faults, said Democratic Action Party (DAP) secretary-general Lim Guan Eng in a Monday (Mar 14) press statement. 

Mr Lim said the party rejected the excuse that a new wave of COVID-19 infections was the sole reason for the poor electoral turnout, and called for opposition parties to face up to reality that they bore some responsibility for their losses. 

This was in addition to his allegation that the winning Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition had “played dirty” with “abuse of government machinery, media and practising money politics”. 

“Lack of opposition unity caused by failing to use a common logo, a common vision, or any discussion of a MB (chief minister) candidate and the fragmentation of opposition support with many opposition parties contesting against each other did not help,” Lim said. 

He pointed to Sabah-based Parti Warisan, which debuted in Peninsular Malaysia with the Johor state election, that had contested six seats against PH incumbents.

“A Big Tent approach of all genuine opposition parties opposed to BN, excluding Perikatan Nasional (PN), must be pursued,” Lim added. 

Lim, who is the Member of Parliament for Bagan constituency in Penang, added that there was an urgent need for the opposition parties to think as a coalition, instead of focusing solely on their own narrow interests. 

“Adopting an ostrich in the sand approach by not admitting weaknesses and failures of communication will not help to win the next general elections,” he said. 

On Sunday, Leader of the Opposition Anwar Ibrahim said Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) accepted the decision of Johor people and congratulated BN for its victory. 

“We are very worried about the percentage of voter turnout which was very saddening and could also threaten the democratic process,” Mr Anwar wrote on Facebook. 

Voter turnout was 54.92 per cent, according to the Election Commission. 

Last Saturday, the incumbent BN coalition won 40 out of 56 seats, cruising to a landslide victory. 

For PH, DAP contested 14 seats and won 10, while PKR and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) only won one seat each. 

PH’s campaign was bogged down by issues such as the lack of a common logo, as PKR had used its own party logo while Amanah and DAP contested under the coalition’s logo.

PKR and newcomer Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (MUDA) also contested against each other in the Larkin state seat even though MUDA had an understanding with PH in the Johor polls. 

In addition, other opposition parties such as Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang) led by Dr Mahathir Mohamad and Warisan led by Shafie Apdal also joined the fray, which split the opposition’s votes in BN’s favour.