SUNGAI PETANI, April 8 — The result of the Bukit Selambau by-election yesterday should be a lesson for everyone concerned.
Firstly, Independent candidates should take note that it is actually difficult for them to win although there had been some Independent candidates who had succeeded previously.
The eagerness of the 13 Independent candidates to contest in Bukit Selambau could have been induced by the success of the previous State Assemblyman for the constituency, V. Arumugam, who had won the seat as an Independent candidate.
He subsequently joined the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) but later resigned due to personal problems.
The 13 Independent candidates, eventually, lost their deposits in the by-election yesterday.
The presence of the large number of Independent candidates resulted in the Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Datuk S. Ganesan and the Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) candidate S. Manikumar ‘losing’ 1,321 votes, the total votes polled by the Independents.
“I will think again about contesting in future elections, but I will continue to be active in politics,” said the former Wanita head of the People’s Progressive Party (PPP), L. Sarala, the only woman among the Independents contesting in the by-election yesterday. She polled 49 votes.
For the BN, a lot can be learnt from the by-election this time around including a review of its machinery in approaching the grassroots in the constituency.
On the other hand, the opposition coalition machinery had been active all the time. In fact, before the nomination day, they had prepared a comprehensive study on the problems of the constituents.
A glaring example was when a storm damaged 40 houses in Kampung Bukit Rusa, the opposition coalition machinery had arrived first to render assistance to the victims while the BN machinery came only to observe the condition of the victims.
Looking at the number of votes received by Ganesan, it was obvious that even some of the BN party members had not given their votes to the BN candidate.
This was because the total number of BN component party members in the Bukit Selambau constituency is 15,751 comprising 7,328 Umno members, 2,043 MCA members, and 6,380 MIC members.
The BN candidate received 10,229 votes while PKR’s Manikumar polled 12,632 votes.
However, one lesson for the PKR is that the party appears to have several disloyal divisional leaders because as the by-election drew nearer, many had left the party.