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Date: 01 Dec 1999
PAS Wins Big
The real winner in the 10th General Elections is clearly PAS - not UMNO or the Barisan.
PAS has captured Terengganu besides strengthening its grip on Kelantan. It has increased its parliamentary seats from 7 to 27 - a jump of almost 300 per cent - an astounding achievement by all counts. It has defeated a Menteri Besar and made mincemeat of all UMNO ministers in Kelantan. It also obtained a majority of parliamentary seats and a third of the state assembly seats in MAHAFIRAUN's home state of Kedah.
UMNO has suffered a defeat at the hands of PAS as never before and must be reeling from it in spite of all the claims and pretences. UMNO's total parliamentary seats has been reduced to 77 from 88. And the Barisan Nasional itself is down to 148 seats from 162 won in the previous elections.
PAS has made dramatic inroads into previously impregnable UMNO strongholds in Pahang, Perak and Selangor and will pose a very serious and real threat to UMNO in the next elections.
The swing of votes from the Malay community in the Peninsula to the opposition is very significant. Besides the outright defeat of UMNO's candidates, the popular vote of its successful candidates has been drastically slashed. Even its strongman, UMNO vice-president Najib Tun Razak was just spared a humiliating defeat by scraping through with a wafer-thin margin.
The Chinese swing to the Barisan was solid and it was their support that saved the Barisan Nasional. Obviously, the Chinese have succumbed to the "politics of fear and terror", which was effectively exploited by the MCA and Gerakan. Their campaign that a vote for the DAP was a vote for PAS, which would lead to an Islamic state, persuaded the Chinese to punish the DAP for its association with PAS. Little did the Chinese realise that by punishing the DAP, they have inadvertently paved the way for what they had feared most.
The strong presence of PAS in parliament will be a constant challenge to UMNO for the Islamic cause. UMNO has not stated that it is against an Islamic state and if it spurns the efforts of PAS, UMNO stands to lose even more miserably in the next elections. UMNO will have to become even more Islamic for its very survival.
As a result of this inability to see the larger picture especially the need for a multi-ethnic opposition front, two fearless voices that consistently spoke out against the abuses of the BN have been sidelined and silenced. Alas, the door was also closed to new voices from decent, caring, and articulate individuals whose presence and insights would have made our Parliamentary proceedings and politics at large more meaningful.
Everything said and done, at the end of the day, we get the government we deserve and deserve the government we get.
P. Ramakrishnan President