Bagan Pinang: Defeat despite best efforts

October 11, 2009

My Econs Class of 1963 and I

My Econs Class of 1963 and I

My classmates and I met for a reunion lunch last Wednesday (October 7) at Original Kayu Restuarant in Section ss2, Petaling Jaya.  At that time, we already felt that Pakatan Rakyat would face major political and bureaucratic obstacles in its attempt to win the Bagan Pinang by election. The chances of victory were rather slim, given 4,000-5,000 postal votes, the media blitz, and money that UMNO would pump in to prop up its candidate, Isa Samad, Calon Rasuah.

My classmates were of the view that the best PR could hope for was a reduction in the margin of victory. I was the only one who thought that the odds would be about even, but the result announced at 8 pm this evening showed that Isa Samad won with a majority of 5,435 votes. I was obviously too optimistic.

Yes, we lost badly in Bagan Pinang. UMNO-BN’s Calon Rasuah won by a landslide. It is true that we face many obstacles in trying to defeat UMNO-BN in their stronghold. But we as genuine democrats (in a country which practices  politics of  manipulation and voter intimidation) must respect the choice of the people of Bagan Pinang. It is obvious that corruption is still acceptable as a way of life for the people of Bagan Pinang.

We must learn lessons for this setback, yes only a setback, review our strategies and tactics, improve our machinery on the ground and boost our public relations. The public is perceiving Pakatan Rakyat as increasingly divided, indisciplined (i.e. incapable of managing some of our ego-centric ADUNs and MPs), and unable to govern.

Our strengths are in our conceptualization and articulation of ideas, but we  have yet to execute them to good effect. Fortunately, there is still time to make appropriate changes in the way we conduct our campaigns and interface with the rakyat who want to see change, not business as usual, although in Bagan Pinang, it was the business as usual UMNO-BN coalition that retained the ADUN seat .

For today, take a breather. To those who worked hard in Bagan Pinang we say “terima kasih daun kali kalau boleh kerja keras lagi”. I dedicate this poem, Ulysses, by Alfred Lord Tennyson to you all , supporters of Pakatan Rakyat, and my dear friends  in Barisan Rakyat Bloggers group for your hard work and dedication.

To my classmates (Class of 1963 Econs, University of Malaya)  who are truly Malaysians, I thank you for your friendship, support and understanding over the years. With us as still united as we were in the 196os, we will be strong in will to strive, to seek, to find and not to yield. That which we are, we are.--Din Merican

Alfred Lord Tennyson–Ulysses

Come, my friends.
‘T is not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down;
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles,
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and tho’
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven, that which we are, we are,–
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

by Alfred Tennyson

31 thoughts on “Bagan Pinang: Defeat despite best efforts

  1. People already rejected PAS islamic agenda. People rather voted a corrupt candidate than the extreme pas. For PAS, stop your nonsense such as banning mania and islamic state/law nonsense.

  2. In Bagan Pinang, PAS lost the Chinese vote because the memory of Hasan Ali’s absurd antics is still fresh (and the raucous calls from PAS Youth to ban a series of pop concerts didn’t inspire much confidence either). Why the Indians have swung back to BN is inexplicable to me. Perhaps Rosmah’s Swamiji is back on the job? 🙂 The results, of course, are immensely sobering to all of us. For a while towards the last couple of days it certainly felt as though democatic ideals and human values would prevail over pragmatism….

    To all who helped campaign in Bagan Pinang, thanks for putting up such a strong resistance!

  3. ” … but the result announced at 8 pm this evening showed that Isa Samad won with a majority of 5,435 votes. I was too optimistic.” Din Merican

    Usually under a Jeffersonian type democracy, by-elections would go against the incumbent party. In general elections the same voters would vote for the incumbent party.

    Obviously Malaysian democracy is not a Jeffersonian democracy.

  4. With all the machinery, money, and machinations BN would have won even if, putting a twist to the adage, mangy, half-blind, limping, disease-ridden dogs were put up as their candidates.

    And going by the last two bye-elections, that is just the type they seem to have come up with. Obviously, scraping the bottom of the barrel has its rewards in bolehland.

  5. Alarm bells should be ringing for the opposition. If a man who is corrupt can be elected with a landslide victory, what does this say about the general morality of us, Malaysians?

    Anyway I think there is a silver lining in the cloud. PAS has been humiliated showing that voters are more sophisticated now and will not buy their atavistic world view.

    PAS must learn that it is immoral to use Islam to garner votes. Islam is a personal matter and should not be exploited. Malaysians have shown in this election that a place in heaven is not really their concern. It is bread and butter issues. Money talks with Malaysians. No money no talk.

    PAS should be told in no uncertain terms that their divisive antics within Pakatan will NO longer be tolerated. If they don’t SHAPE UP they can SHIP OUT!

    A secular coalition is the only way forward for the Opposition. Pakatan Rakyar has to get every community, each with their different cultural and religious backgrounds behind them if they are to take on BN. No more pussy footing, ‘wayang kulit’ and divisive racial and religious talk.

    There has to be unity of purpose and an agreed united political philosophy. This will mean that the politicization of religion by PAS will have to be jettisoned; not that the coalition is abandoning Islamic values but more that it is being serious about unity, tackling corruption, practising good governance, equality and justice. If any Muslim had a brain he would realise that these are Islamic values which ultimately really matter.

    Praying 5 times a day in a ritualistic manner, dressing like an Arab and doing Umrah and Haj are ultimately pointless if you condone corruption and vote a Muslim the likes of Isa Samad.

  6. “PAS should be told in no uncertain terms that their divisive antics within Pakatan will NO longer be tolerated. If they don’t SHAPE UP they can SHIP OUT!”

    And where do you think their next port of call gonna be??

    The singular problem remains as that of mobilization of popular Malay support. It will be a fight over Malay dominated constituencies like this one and in the Malay hinterland.

    The Malay voters are apparently not convinced by the rhetoric of the Malay leaders within PKR that their interests would be safeguarded in the same way. Apparently they view corruption as a separate and independent issue.

    To many the trade-off between public service and the spoils of public office is a legit one. What is important is that for the most part they deliver.

    The Malays are not politically naive as they used to be. The tools Pakatan uses are the same tools UMNO-BN uses.

  7. Saya dan rakan-rakan saya ingin menyampaikan ucapan tahniah kepada YB Dato Hassan Ali, YB Sdr Dzulkifli Noordin, YB Sdr Nasharuddin Mat Isa atas kemenangan besar ini di Bagan Pinang. Syabas kerana telah ‘menghadiahkan’ kemenangan ini kepada UMNO.

  8. This calon rasuah’s case is nothing compared to ex-convict, power abuser and accused of sodomy, PKR’s calon at permatang pauh. It’s not working, Din. Isa is marking the return of popular grassroots representative.
    It is a much needed win to restore BN/UMNO’s strength. Now it’s interesting to see if the trend is gaining momentum for next by-election (?), or the current PR Government of Kedah is really serious now to force a new by-election.

  9. Post mortems, dissections and profanities rule eh? The writing was already on the wall, and soothsayers notwithstanding, the facts remain as the are. There has been no change in status quo in terms of seats in tne state assembly. The margin was unexpected, but Zorro et al had already remarked on this.

    Yes, they can stomach a ‘technically’ corrupt politician because despite his Napoleonic stature, he has a 22yr. record of nada – which to most, is better than the hee-hawing and mooing of the the somewhat bedraggled PR.

    Unlike most of you, I don’t want finger pointing and fingering – I think it’s a message from both the Malays and the Nons that PR was suffering from hydrocephalus (head swelling) which causes mental retardation. The electorate didn’t care 2 hoots about 1Malaysia, but they cared very much for their sanity and ‘way of life’ – poor as it may have been. There was no uplifting message to give them hope for anything new. They were thus more than willing to share the ‘crumbs that fell off the masters table’.

  10. We’ve a long and winding road ahead of us. Let us face it, these small town and estate dwellers, along with their village kindreds are not taken in too much at aspects of relevancy or efficiency. Neither are they keen on politics of accountability nor knowing fully well what a transparency policy means. Let alone the mantra of ‘ good governance’.

    While these political policies may augur well amongst the urbanites ,regardless of colour or creed, whom presumably are revolutionized enough hence better equipped mentally to comprehend such agendas.
    When faced with the devil-you-know vs. the devil-you-don’t dilemma, these semi-urban folks generally choose the better known devil. Mired between the battle of the senses and mind , their emotions erupts with gratitude the instant there are handouts. Anyone dressed in Santa claus costume(figuratively speaking) with a handful of goodies is deemed saviour. As for now, they are practical to a fault and not all that trusting of the visionary types.

  11. I know exactly how you feel. What does this election tells us? That’s it’s okay to be corrupt?

    I think there are many factors involved in this case and Pakatan have to look deep into them. The message is clear that the honeymoon is now over, Pakatan can no longer rely on sentiment and sympathy to win votes. What is needed is clear policy, good people, a united front and solid ground support. BN is its own worst enemy. Pakatan don’t really need to try hard to discredit them because they are doing a fine job themselves. All you need to do is just expose their weaknesses.

    One of the weaknesses of Pakatan is it’s people. Too many greedy frogs like Ali Hassan who are obviously waiting for the right time to jump back to Umno, after he’s done major damage to Pakatan that is. Just wait and see. Nothing short of a major overhaul of the coalition will do. Perhaps Pakatan should also reflect on whether it should be promoted as a strong opposition to check the BN, rather than the government it wanted to be. This will bring more sympathy and support from the rakyat and who knows, that might evolved into a win in the next GE. I believe that people have a higher tendency to vote for check and balance rather than vote to change the government that they have been living with for more than 50 years. As proven in Bagan Penang, they are more comfortable with the devil they know than the one they don’t, corrupt or otherwise.

  12. I said that post mortems will be interesting and I have not been disappointed. GERAKAN K has summed it up best of all. Voters not only prefer the devil they know but they also do not go for the PAS version of religion and that can only be a good sign for the country.

  13. this loss is good for more reasons then one . first , it tells us something about the malays , the chinese and the indians in the constituency both as racial groups and as malaysians . second , it is a reality check on pakatan coalition partners – the fact that they should grow up and realise that reality on earth is more important then the heavens which seems to be more important to some idiots like dr hassan ali in the coalition.

    and third , the constituents are capable of making up their own minds and dont need dr hassan ali’s idiotic antics.

    the constituents have spoken – dr hassan ali please depart for heaven soon with your ilk !!!

  14. It is back to the drawing board for PAS leaders and its strategists. Maybe, they should use the collective strengths of PKR, DAP and civil society to plan and execute future campaigns. PAS must also correct its image.

  15. “they should grow up and realise that reality on earth is more important then the heaven which seems to be more important to some idiots like dr hassan ali…” peach.

    Well said, peach. I can’t agree. Some of these Talibanistic morons in the coalition need to be re-educated. What matters most is here on earth not the hereafter. Hasan Ali and his ilks can frolic with their 72 virigins for all we care.

    Preaching the gospel will not bring food to the tables of the rural poor whose mode of living is “kais pagi makan pagi, kais petang makan petang”. PAS must appreciate this.

  16. Sometimes you need a little defeat to put things back in balance. I can just imagine the arrogance of PR if they had won BP. So, in a way, it’s a good thing we lost BP. The important thing is to win the war, losing a few small battles is good for us to reorganize our strategy and plans. And more important is whether PR learnt anything from a lost battle.

    Let’s see how well those who voted for BN in BP are taken care of.

  17. Din

    It seems clear to me that it is a referendum on PAS rather than the PR. PAS has been trying to prove to the rural Malays that it is more Islamic than UMNO. In the process politicians of the ilk of Hasan Ali and Nasharuddin etc, and also the PKR’s Zulkifli Nordin, MP for Kulim-Bandar Baru, have ignored the sentiment of the Malaysian public who want change.

    It is time that Ustaz Hadi and Tok Guru Nik Aziz did some house cleaning if they want PAS to be acceptable to all. Bagan Pinang clearly sent out the message that voters prefer the corrupt to the recent PAS march towards fundamentalism. PAS will lose its Non-Muslim friends in the PAS Supporters Clubs if it doesntt change and mend its ways. It must learn to be more inclusive in the modern context.

    While we can argue that the Bagan Pinang voters were wrong, the majority, being Malays, prefer the status quo to than the uncertainty and erratic behaviour of PAS leaders! If the ADUNs and the MPs of PR cannot get their act together, they might as well resign, and let BN take control and we go back to business as usual.

  18. Ditto that sirusa.

    The problem is about the open quarreling played up by MSM and repeated political suicide attempts and gaffes by PAS conservatives, PKR’s Zulkifli Nordin and Wee Chee Keong, and DAP’s Jeff Ooi, all of which is perceived as sheer hypocrisy. How can we stand with a house divided?

    Tian Chua’s excuse of allowing ‘debate’ because of democracies sake cannot wash, to the common man. They have not been inculcated with Platonic-Aristotelian values. There are angels, demons and the djinn – yes the common rakyat rather go with demons on earth than djinns that are divided. The collective consciousness of the opposition is not so ‘cohesive’ is it?


    salah sangka, may I suggest you go back to reading Malaysian History 101. T.N. Harper’s The End of Empire and the Making of Malaya should be a good start.

    Harper’s Book (available in soft cover at Kinokuniya, KLCC-Suria) is the first general social and political history of Malaya. Focusing on the years 1945 to 1957, the last years of British rule and the achievement of independence, it embraces a wealth of social, economic and cultural, as well as political themes. It contains new research on the impact of the Second World War in Malaya, the origins and course of the Communist Emergency, and the response of Malaya’s various ethnic communities to nationalism and social change. A concluding chapter takes these themes forward into the 1990s to shed new light on the emergence of this important Southeast Asian nation. Also read Tunku Abdul Aziz’s Straight Talk, collection of his articles which first appeared in the NST for his take on contemporary Malaysian issues.

    Don’t rely too much on the mainstream media (media arus perdana) as they will give you a jaundiced view of our political and historical development. It is not accurate to say rubbish to PKR, PAS and DAP. These parties are on the right side of history and time will prove that they are right in fighting for freedom, democracy and justice, and for advocating good governance and the Rule of Law for our country.–Din Merican

  20. Been trying to tell you fellas that PAS wont make it in the South. More so when they are playing up religious extremism fears on the non Malays.

    This should be a good lesson for Pakatan leaders. Wake-up, the opposition has no momentum left, the energy been spent in infighting, and in religious issues that dont bring dinner to the table.

    If Anwar wants to win the next GE, he has got to form an integrated party, one where religion and race issues are put aside.

    Otherwise, it will still be UMNO all the way. So Salah Jangka (great name!) aint wrong on his assessment.

  21. ” …. an integrated party … ” . – james

    james , this motley crew from DAP + PKR + PAS , seem to be like sergeant bilko ‘s crew on his warship. this motley crowd make anwar look like sergeant bilko sometimes . altogether , they dont have a finger on the nations pulse . instead they seem to have it in ilham’s butt . little wonder why ilham keeps repeating the same thing all the time .

    so how to ” mara ” kehadapan?

  22. Haha.. salah jagka, relak la.
    Ain’t no use to ‘marah’ kehadapan/kebelakang. The problems stem from an unexpected win, beyond their wildest imagination. Patience and preserverance. Pax.

  23. din ,

    with due respect , it is ” salah jangka ” and not ” salah sangka “.

    also , i dont dispute your last paragraph. but the people in pkr + dap + pas , must stop talking of and thinking just of pigs , heaven , cans of beers etc. they must transcend beyond this . and to go beyond pigs , beer etc , the best way to do it is for all 3 party’s to collapse into one . this way , lim kit siang and his gang will stop thinking and talking of pigs and other insular issues . similarly , PAS would stop thinking just of a can of beer or banning sisters of islam .

    instead, all these leaders will be forced to rethink the issues based on universal values . REMEMBER ALL THE PROPHETS WERE AT A VERY HIGH MENTAL PLAIN BEFORE THEY STARTING GIVING SERMONS . what are these commoners like dr hassan ali and other pretenders like him – they are not even on the same mental plain as the common human being . they seem to be on a plain lower then that – these idiots. and do u think they should be talking DOWN to the commoners ? instead of talking down to these commoners they should be listening !!!

    so until they raise above being a ” load of rubbish ” they will remain rubbish . we are all malaysians – not malays , chinese, indians , sarawakians or sabahans . SO PAKATAN MUST STARTED TALKING LIKE MALAYSIANS IF THEY WANT TO BE ON THE RIGHT SIDE OF HISTORY – PERIOD.

  24. Don’t take it too hard guys. Promises and more promises have been made to constituents. If these don’t get delivered between now and the next general elections, UMNO-BN would be facing the elections with their pants down. Guys like Ilham can then put their fingers back where they belong.

  25. How to Mara hadapan? Take out politics of religion and race. That means no shouting about NEP, bla bla bla, just a vision for all Malaysians. That is how I will do it. It means taking PAS to the cleaners too – out the door when any of those idiots mention religion. Otherwise it is just a major botch up waiting to happen, even if PKR wins the next election.

    But I suppose politicians takes the path of least resistance, as evident in Pakatan now.

    Or alternatively, just dont allow PAS to field in candidates outside of Kelantan. How bout that DIN?

  26. Hmm, makes me think that PAS would do well in a communist country. Here they would be able to focus only on heaven and God cos everybody is (supposedly) to be on equal footing economically. So, not much to worry about economics and politics, all they have to do is preach, preach and preach about God, no sex, no drinking and no to everything else and just pray, pray and more pray.

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