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Barisan Nasional Won Bagan Pinang By-Election

Barisan Nasional’s (BN) Tan Sri Mohd Isa Samad has won the Bagan Pinang by-election by a landslide of 5,435 votes, snapping its losing streak in peninsula Malaysia since Election 2008.

The huge margin of victory will give Umno in particular a big boost, which it hopes will mark the party’s revival.

BN retained the Bagan Pinang state seat after Isa polled 8,013 votes to 2,578 votes for Negri Sembilan PAS chief Zulkefly Omar. The margin of victory was more than double BN’s win in last year’s elections.

When met by reporters after his victory was announced, Isa said: “This is a sign of a good beginning, the Chinese, the Indians, and also the Malays are now supporting BN”.

Today’s results will also mark the return of Isa to active politics since his suspension from Umno in 2005.

A mentri besar for 22 years, he left the state administration after the 2004 general elections to become the federal territories minister. But he resigned from the government after he was suspended from Umno for his involvement in vote buying — a widespread practice which the party is trying to curb through a constitutional amendment expected to be passed early next week.

Early analyses suggest BN won in all polling streams, and wrested back the Indian votes it lost last year. Indian votes were seen as significant because they accounted for 20 per cent of the electorate.

Umno officials say the turnaround suggests Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s intense courtship of Indians contributed to their support for BN here.

The party also made gains in the crucial postal votes from army personnel. Isa took 3,521 postal votes while Zulkefly received just 601 votes. Last year the postal votes tally was 3,080-1,189 in BN’s favour.

Umno will be hoping today’s victory, which was expected, can be the catalyst for the party’s revival of fortunes. The party ran an efficient campaign by rallying around Isa’s popularity in the constituency.

Umno’s party machinery has been energised in anticipation of today’s win and leaders will be hoping this will put it in good stead to stop Pakatan Rakyat’s (PR) momentum.

Still, the election of a tainted politician, who won on his personal popularity in a small state seat, is likely to reinforce negative perceptions of Umno nationally. A recent poll by the independent Merdeka Centre showed a majority of voters in peninsular Malaysia did not approve of the candidacy.

With Isa’s win, Umno may find it harder to shake off the image many Malaysians have of them as being tainted by corruption.

But Najib will be hoping that a reenergised Umno and an improving economy will be enough to swing the pendulum back in favour of Umno and BN by the time the next general elections are called.

Source : The Malaysian Insider

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