By Neville Spykerman and Adip Zalkapli
SHAH ALAM, April 25 — Pakatan Rakyat MPs acknowledged today’s Hulu Selangor by-election loss was a clear wake up call for the fledgling coalition.
“If we are serious about going to Putrajaya, this (result) is an indication that we need to pull up our socks,” said Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
The PAS MP for Kuala Selangor said a frank post-mortem needs to be conducted to determine what went wrong during the campaign.
Dr Hatta Ramli said PR was handicapped because they could not counter the offensive by the Barisan Nasional (BN) media.
“BN engaged in open character assassination which we were not strong enough to counter .”
He said the government’s “gift” to voters including the RM50,000 to Felda settlers in Sungai Buaya were also factors that contributed to PR’s loss.
However the PAS Kuala Krai MP described the by-election as a sparring match before the real fight which is the next general elections.
“We are only pretending to fall,” he quipped.
DAP’s Charles Santiago attributed BN’s victory to pork barrel politics.
“It was basically a ‘buy-election’ with all goodies that BN gave out.”
The Klang MP pointed out the result showed that PR did well in urban areas but failed to win-over rural Malays.
BN Secretary-General Datuk Tengku Adnan Mansor admitted the level of support from the Chinese community had dropped compared to 2008 and BN won largely because of Malay and Indian votes.
"I'm not sure about the exact figure, but we lost a lot, in some cases we did worse than in 2008,"
With tonight’s victory, he said they were confident they could also win in the up coming Sibu by-election.
Tengku Adnan said they were unperturbed that the 1725 majority by BN’s candidate P. Kamalanathan fell short of the 6,000 majority announced earlier by the deputy prime minister.
"We lost by 198 the last time. With this majority, we are happy"
"We know the KPI, but at that time the state government was under BN control, but now the state government has the machinery to deny our 6,000 majority victory,"
Cameron Highland MP SK. Devamany said the win was one up for MIC, which suffered huge losses during the 2008 general elections.
“This proves that MIC is not a spent force and can still garner public support,” said the deputy minister in the prime minister’s department.
He said the win also indicates wide public acceptance of the prime minister’s 1 Malaysia concept and his reforms.
Tapah MP M. Saravanan said tonight’s result was a “big victory not to be underestimated.”
“PKR which leads the state government is strong and were giving out land titles to voters, even before BN started campaigning.”
The deputy federal territories minister said MIC was excited at the victory but could not afford to be overconfident.
PPP president Datuk M. Kayveas said the win dispelled the myth that PR could win by-elections hands down.
“It’s a step forward in the right direction because it proves that BN’s reforms are working.” he said.