Kemaman poll reaction: Amid the factual blunder of PMX’s PolSec lies the element of referendum

IT seems that the Finance Minister’s political secretary Kamil Abdul Munim has erred by describing that PAS’ landslide victory in the Kemaman parliamentary by-election over the weekend as “wasn’t something extraordinary”.

This has prompted veteran journalist and blogger Datuk A. Kadir Jasin to offer Kamil a perspective after the latter having rejected the claim of PAS secretary-general Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan that the victory of Terengganu Menteri Besar (MB) Datuk Seri Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar on Saturday (Dec 2) was a referendum against the unity government.

“The statement of Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s spokesman contradicts the argument of Barisan Nasional (BN) chairman and UMNO president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi who had on Nov 13 expressed confidence in re-capturing Kemaman because the constituency is a stronghold of UMNO and not PAS,” penned Kadir in his latest Facebook post.

“Zahid described Kemaman not just as a fortress but a strong fortress. Such is the belief of the UMNO president even though it has been repeatedly contradicted. But when the results were announced, UMNO representing BN, Pakatan Harapan (PH) and the unity government lost badly … worse than during last year’s 15th General Election (GE15).”

For the record, BN candidate Raja Mohamed Affandi Raja Mohamed Noor lost with a margin of 37,220 votes with the former army general having polled 27,778 votes while Samsuri obtained 64,998 votes.

Although the turnout was low, the votes obtained by the Terengganu MB were higher. In GE15, the PAS candidate whose victory was annulled by the court, Che Alias Hamid, won with a majority of 27,179 votes.

Datuk A. Kadir Jasin

Referendum element

“In other words, the popularity of PN-PAS has risen a lot while that of BN-UMNO and its allies plummeted,” asserted Kadir. “If the BN candidate in last year’s general election Datuk Seri Ahmad Said (former Terengganu MB) obtained 38,535 votes, Raja Mohamed Affandi only obtained 27,778 votes or a drop of 10,757 votes.”

Added the National Journalism Laureate: “Because the BN-UMNO candidate also represents PH and the unity government, his defeat to some extent reflects the negative reaction to Anwar’s administration.”

Taking his argument to the next level, Kadir said many people are either not aware or have forgotten the political scene in Terengganu until PAS has become so strong.

“If I say, PAS’s strength in Terengganu has something to do with Anwar, surely some people will be shocked or don’t believe me,” quipped the former Bersatu supreme council member who has since pledged his allegiance to PH in the aftermath of GE15.

“For the record, UMNO ruled Terengganu from 1961 to 1999. In the 1999 GE, PAS won on a wave of reforms. At that time, PAS was a strong supporter of reform. So, it is not surprising that PAS was strong enough to defeat PH and BN.”

During GE15, PAS swept eight parliamentary seats and all state assembly seats in the six state elections on Aug 12. Only in the 2004 GE did PAS lose.

“It is true that Kemaman has become a PAS stronghold and that almost all of its voters are Malay but the referendum element against the unity government and the BN-UMNO leadership cannot be rejected or denied arbitrarily,” the former editor-in-chief of mainstream New Straits Times pointed out.

“This is not a trivial matter when within a year, the support for BN-UMNO declined by almost 11,000 (votes).” – Dec 5, 2023

Main pic credit: PAS’ Facebook

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