By Nor Baizura Basri
JOHOR BAHRU: Pakatan Harapan (PH) retained the Pulai parliamentary and Simpang Jeram state seats with comfortable majorities in by-elections today.
Suhaizan Kaiat and Nazri Abdul Rahman, both from Amanah, triumphed in three-cornered fights by obtaining a majority of 18,641 votes and 3,514 votes respectively.
In Pulai, former Johor State Assembly Speaker Suhaizan polled 48,283 votes to beat Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) Zulkifli Jaafar, who obtained 29,642 votes, and independent candidate Samsudin Mohamad Fauzi, who got only 528 votes.
In Simpang Jeram, Muar Municipal Council’s former engineer Nazri obtained 13,844 votes to defeat PN’s Dr Mohd Mazri Yahya, who received 10,330 votes, and independent candidate S. Jeganathan, who had 311 votes.
Both the independent candidates lost their deposits as they failed to obtain at least one-eighth of the valid votes.
Socio-political analyst Associate Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said the victories proved that the PH-Barisan Nasional (BN) alliance was accepted by the people of Johor, which is known as an UMNO fortress.
He said it also showed that the people’s confidence in Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim was increasing despite efforts by the opposition to carry a different narrative.
“The important thing is the results show that voters want the Unity Government to keep its 148 seats in Parliament. That shows the people’s desire to maintain the Unity Government,” he told Bernama when contacted last tonight.
Suhaizan’s victory makes him the first MP to be elected with the support of the PH-BN alliance, which is part of the Unity Government.
The Universiti Malaya Malay Studies Academy sociocultural lecturer and Democracy and Election Centre research fellow also said the opposition campaign using several issues including the recent court decision involving UMNO president Datuk Seri Dr Ahmad Zahid Hamidi failed to sway voters.
“The opposition failed in carrying this narrative because it is clear the people accepted and respected the court process and decision,” he added.
The Election Commission (EC) said in a statement that the voter turnout in Pulai was 47.33 per cent and in Simpang Jeram, 60.85 per cent.
There are 166,653 registered voters in Pulai and 40,379 in Simpang Jeram.
In the 15th general election in November last year, the late Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub retained the Pulai seat with a 33,174-vote majority after polling 64,900 votes to beat Datuk Nur Jazlan Mohamed (BN-UMNO) and PN’s Loh Kah Yong.
In the Johor state election in March last year, the Amanah deputy president also won Simpang Jeram for the second straight time with a majority of 2,399 votes, polling 8,749 votes to beat Zarul Salleh of PN and Datuk Lokman Md Don (BN-UMNO).
Salahuddin, who was Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister, died on July 23, triggering the two by-elections.