As expected, Barisan Nasional cruised to victories in both by-elections in Galas, Kelantan, and Batu Sapi in Sabah.
The mood in the Barisan Nasional camp is obviously buoyant and everybody seems to be in the mood to celebrate especially since the victories coincided with the Hindu festival of Deepavali, which marks the victory of good over evil.
But just because of that coincidence, Barisan should not treat the by-election victories as victories of good over evil.
To treat the Opposition as evil would be the downfall of the ‘good’ guys.
This is simply because the victories are not reflective of the situation in other parts of Malaysia.
In Galas, which was a Barisan stronghold and a state seat within the Parliamentary constituency of Gua Musang where Umno veteran and Kelantan prince Tengku Razaleigh has reigned as king for many years, it was Ku Li’s charisma, influence and stature that won over the Orang Asli and Chinese voters (and some Malay voters too) that resulted in the Barisan victory.
Barisan’s Abdul Aziz Yusoff polled 5,324 votes against Dr Zulkefli Mohamed from PAS who obtained 4,134 votes.
In Batu Sapi, some observers say it was the emotional factor that pulled in the sympathy votes since fielding the widow of the late Batu Sapi MP, Datuk Edmund Chong Ket Wah, ensured that voters would be sympathetic to her cause (if at all she had a cause).
Barisan candidate Datin Linda Tsen Thau Lin of PBS won the Batu Sapi Parliamentary seat - she polled 9,773 votes to defeat PKR’s Ansari Abdullah (3,414 votes) and SAPP president Datuk Yong Teck Lee (2,031 votes).
Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin was quick to state that while the wins in Galas and Batu Sapi could bolster the coalition’s chances in the next general election, it should not take things easy.
“Barisan can’t take things for granted, we still have a lot to do,” the Deputy Prime Minister said at the MIC Deepavali open house at the Putra World Trade Centre in Kuala Lumpur on Friday.
He is right - Barisan cannot take things for granted. Two victories in battles (in rather remote battlefields) do not mean Barisan can win the war.
Can Barisan win the battles in the urban areas? Can Barisan win the battles in Chinese-majority seats? Can Barisan win back the States and seats now controlled by Pakatan Rakyat?
Can Barisan win over the support of impressionable, rebellious and disenfranchised Malaysians? Can Barisan win over the support of the young voters who have grown up from adolescence to adulthood in an atmosphere of cynicism, skepticism and disbelief?
Despite the easy victories in the two by-election battles, it will still be an uphill battle for Barisan in the next general election.