Permatang Pauh by-election: A quick analysis


Wan Azizah polled 58.0 per cent of the valid votes cast, compared with Anwar’s 59.2 percent at GE13. So that’s a little slide. If we include spoilt votes, then she polled 57.1 per cent compared to Anwar’s 58.6 per cent.

The BN’s share of the valid votes actually crept up from 40.5 per cent at GE13 to 41.1 per cent this time (or from 40.1 per cent to 40.4 per cent, if we include spoilt votes).

So there is much for both sides to think about.

PKR’s problems with Pas and Anwar’s missing charisma may have contributed to the slide for PKR. Also, many younger out-of-town voters – perhaps those working in KL – may have failed to return home especially after the long weekend a few days earlier, during which some might have preferred to return. So that’s 14 per cent fewer voters.

But PKR can draw heart from its performances in the kampungs, thanks especially to the effort put in by its women’s wing in cooperation with the Pas women’s wing who worked hard among small groups of women to get them to go out and vote. Speakers from the progressive faction of Pas participated in the ceramahs in the last week especially to minimise the fallout from the friction between PKR and the Hadi faction of Pas. Surprisingly, the Pas stronghold of Permatang Pasir actually contributed more than half of PKR’s winning majority.

The BN cannot draw comfort despite its small increase in the share of its votes. It wasn’t able to capitalise on Anwar’s forced absence despite its entire machinery being concentrated in the area.

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This could be because of the GST, the higher cost of living and corruption, Mahathir’s constant sniping at Najib over 1MDB, Altantuya, etc. Plus the anger over repressive laws being used against opposition politicians and activists.

What do you think?

If you look at the percentages in terms of all votes cast (including spoilt votes), we get the following:

Final result 2015 by election:

Dr Wan Azizah (PKR) 30316 votes (57.1 per cent)
Suhaimi (BN) 21475 (40.4 per cent)
Salleh Isahak (Independent) 367 votes (0.7 per cent)
Azman Shah Othman (PRM) 101 votes (0.2 per cent)
Spoilt votes: 843 (1.6 per cent)

Total votes cast: 53102 (100 per cent)
Registered voters: 71890
Voter turnout: 73.9 per cent (GE13 88.3 per cent)

Majority: 8841

GE13 (2013) result

Anwar Ibrahim (PKR): 37090 (58.6 per cent)
BN: 25369 (40.1 per cent)
Independent: 201 (0.3 per cent)
Spoilt votes: 672 (1.1 per cent)

Total votes cast: 63332 (100 per cent)
Registered voters: 71699
Voter turnout: 88.3 per cent

Majority: 11721

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  1. 3 Options for the Progressive faction (lost in 2015 Muktamar) in PAS:

    1) Remain in PAS
    – It will become difficult for Selangor and PKR to continue. The conflict will still keep in the loop and it bother us as voters. PR will still lose if we don’t end this saga completely
    2) Form a new Islamic party
    – Honestly, it is bad idea in the long term. Malaysia need transform into new politic where no religion and race, but a progressive, professions and intelligent country.
    – However, in the short term, this is what needed for rural area.
    3) Absorb into DAP and PKR
    – Only if they can truly fight for secular democracy, to increase faith of Muslims spiritually but not attempt of Islamic enforcement in governance.
    – DAP is okay as they already have matured organisation, while it would be unstable for PKR as they suffering faded leadership and may cause more internal issue.

    What is your view on this, Anil?

  2. According to a survey by think tank Institut Darul Ehsan (IDE) on May 3, 63% of the 1,075 Permatang Pauh voters polled said Dr Mahathir’s attacks against Najib influenced them to support Pakatan Rakyat candidate Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah.

    When asked if GST would push them to support PR, 73% said ‘yes’, the survey showed.

    These 2 factors (1MDB and GST) will continue to haunt Regime Najib despite great fanfare (and more from the propaganda effort from Lim Kok Wing soon) on the glossy presentation of Rancangan Malaysia Ke11.

  3. BN’s attempt to convince voters during the Permatang Pauh by-election that government services is not subjected to the GST is exposed after the Johor Sultan expressed unhappiness about it, said Penang CM Lim Guan Eng.

    Lim was referring to Penang BN chairperson Teng Chang Yeow who during that campaign accused the chief minister of misleading the public when he said the GST would also cover government services.

    In a statement today, he held that Teng and BN were shown to be clearly lying, now that the Johor sultan had expressed his displeasure that the public or the state government has to pay GST for government services and works provided to the public.

  4. Tabung Haji-1MDB link fulfills Rahman theory and spells the end of materialistic patronage political party in Malaysia?

    • Damage control by UMNO now, but they didn’t reveal who want to buy the land at such exorbitant rate unless it’s another government agencies using the rakyat money. Anyway, damages already done, if opposition didn’t raised this issue, they might just slip under the carpet, 1MDB issues will keep arising until the next GE and only need rakyat to open their eyes bigger and see that they want this government to continue.

  5. Yes I agree that the ‘first past the post electoral system is not appropriate in today’s fast changing world, where people within a society tend to hold a far wider range of views and opinions, than in the past, when two parties could provide two very different party manifestos going into an election.

    New Zealand made the change to proportional representation when it became apparent after several elections that the outcome was minority government. Today, New Zealand uses the system whereby there are Electorate Members of Parliament and party list Members of Parliament. Each party, if reaching a threshold of 5% of the total vote can bring into parliament the number of members based on their parties percentage of the overall vote.

    This has meant that historically smaller parties like the Greens from the left and smaller parties from the right are now represented in parliament. Very rarely does a major party (in the New Zealand context, Labour and National) have the numbers to govern alone and must rely on coalition government. This tends to give the smaller party more voice and impact on legislation. It has also meant that the major parties economically have moved to fight the middle ground.

    Given the multi-cultural society of Malaysia, the time is now ripe to examine the ongoing consequences of sticking with the first past the post electoral system. It is not democratic because it denies the voice of so many people. Barison National does not meet the needs of a coalition government because the policy decisions and regulations that are promulgated by this grouping is dominated by UNMO, a Malay party. It is very clear that the Chinese and Malay are no longer mainly supporting BN.

    In a fully functioning democracy, all the people’s voices are important, not just the majority. Any decision made by a Parliamentary democracy must ensure that no people within the society governed is disadvantaged.

    It is important that to understand that politics is an action that every person in society participates in every day because it is simply “…the practice and theory of influencing other people” ( We simply ask people to represent our views in Parliament, a place that should remain sacred to its role of inclusive discussion and mature decision making, taking into account all views expressed in the chamber.

    • Politics is not just the art of influencing other people, Michael. Reduced to brasstacks, politics is “who gets what, when and how.” Reduced to such essentials, you can see that it is a place where horse-trading takes place.

      I was in New Zealand when it mulled the shift from the “first-past-the-post” system to the mixed member proportion system. Yes, they have done it quite well, to the extent that almost all views are represented.

  6. “Frankly speaking I rather ride on a unicorn or a centaur than a devil in disguise like PAS. I would rather see Lynas, some untransparency or misgovernance than see PAS hudud and an Islamic state which is very real looking from the 2 by election results. Anyway I still believe the coalition, BN UMNO, MCA, MIC, Gerakan and 18 coalition can still ride over PAS, PKR and the chauvinistic DAP. Teluk Intan and Pmtg Pauh have shown that there is a swing of Chinese and non Malay votes towards BN. We have had 56 years of secular governance and I would not want it to turn it any other way with Pakatan DAP, PKR and PAS in charge,” so wrote Yang.

    In the paragraph quote above, Yang seems to prefer opacity and misgovernance than hudud and an Islamic state when the choice is clearly not that distinct between the two poles he has unilaterally erected. To justify opacity and misgovernance is to sell our beloved country and our people short, very short indeed.

    Our country and our people deserve the best in transparency and governance. A fortiori, because we are a multi-racial, multi-cultural and multi-religious country that can operate as a city on the hill, an example for the entire world.

    Malaysians can doggedly insist on transparency and good governance without having to deal with hudud and an Islamic state, the latter of which are just ideas being thrown into the political arena incapable of implementation purely because of our country’s position as a destination for foreign investments and all that it portends for jobs and economic growth.

    Contrary to the views expressed by Yang, therefore, I see a lot of hope in this country presented by the swings in both the Malay and Chinese electorates in Permatang Pauh.

    The swings just mean that the Malay electorate can be persuaded to change their minds after 58 long years of sustained political indoctrination, first by the Alliance and then by the Barisan Nasional. That they swung towards the Opposition to negative the Chinese swing shows that they are a lot more politically sophisticated than their Chinese compatriots. The low turnout may well mean that the Malays can even merajuk and refuse to cast their ballots. This unique Malay capacity to merajuk is also a good sign.

    To my mind, this means that the Malay electorate, hitherto seen as “an Umno bastion,” is no longer that. It is ready to be tapped. To my mind, if the DAP and the PKR, jointly or severally, can formulate plans for the future of Malaysia, I am sure that the Malay electorate is ready to offer their support.

    My take of the Chinese electoral swing in Permatang Pauh is that it is nothing new. Since Merdeka, the Chinese electorate has been known to be volatile and swing as and when they feel like swinging. The Chinese concept of loyalty just does not extend to exercising the ballot. In fact, if you study the electoral results, this volatility has been instrumental in the Chinese being systematically marginalised over the years since the traumatic year of 1969.

    • H”We have had 56 years of secular governance and I would not want it to turn it any other way”

      What ‘secular’ you are talking about?
      The emergence of G25 contradicts your argument. would not exist if the BN coalition is effective and fair to all rakyat and the river of justice can flow smoothly.

    • For Chinese everywhere in the world, if you give them a nice “rice bowl” (education opportunities, ease of doing business, cultural freedom & Chinese language usage), they will follow you to the edge of the earth. No need for “hau soi tor kor cha” political ceramahs which they never believe till you show the real stuffs.
      And they will smile … camouflaging their contempt for those selling the slippery snake oil of political evangelism or trying hard to sell the same bluffs (again & again)…

      • ‘For Chinese everywhere in the world, if you give them a nice “rice bowl” (education opportunities, ease of doing business, cultural freedom & Chinese language usage), they will follow you to the edge of the earth’.

        What about the people of Hong Kong? Aren’t they also Chinese?

      • Yang, Tunglang’s perspective probably holds true for the 1990’s era with the baby boomers’ and the Gen-X’s generations’ willingness to trade their political, social even their economic rights to a certain extent for the limited opportunities and freedom as described. The recent actions of the people of Hong Kong are in all possibilities a depiction of the mindset of the younger generation of the ethic Chinese not just in Hong Kong, but the world over. They no longer adopt the ‘migrant’ mentality but see themselves as rightful and equal citizens of their respective lands. And above all else, they are increasingly aware that their fate and destiny cannot be separated from the government of the day; thus their increasingly active and vociferous position in the issues pertaining to governance and politics.

  7. More malay votes would have gone to PKR if Tabung Haji announced a week earlier its decision to purchase (bail out?) TRX land from 1MDB. Now more people are beginning to worry that their EPF money could end up be used to rescue 1MDB, thus are desperate to make quick full withdrawal by age 55.

    • Mahathir dakwa Tabung Haji memang ‘bailout’ 1MDB

      It has been revealed that senior Tabung Haji executives – CEO Tan Sri Ismee Ismail, deputy CEO Datuk Johan Abdullah, investment panel member Tan Sri Abdul Samad Alias and director Tan Sri Mohd Irwan Siregar Abdullah – also hold top positions in 1MDB, where Ismee is a director in the state investment fund, Johan is chairman and both Abdul Samad and Irwan sit on the 1MDB advisory board.

    • Mukhriz Mahathir wants the Finance Ministry to explain the cheap price at which it sold land for the Tun Razak Exchange to debt-ridden 1MDB. 1MDB had paid RM64 per square feet for the land against the RM2,773 per square feet in the Tabung Haji purchase.

      Mukhriz “Kalau TH sanggup bayar harga begitu tinggi utk tanah kepunyaan 1MDB, apa alasan Kem Kewangan jualnya pd harga begitu murah kpd 1MDB dulu?”

      Did 1MDB actually make any money from its investment or it just made money from getting government land at a great discount and then selling them for profit? Can this fall under the Anti-Profiteering Act?

  8. My only prediction why the majorities dropped in both by-elections are probably due to many voters did not return home because of working far away from Penang But in GE you will see the rise in voters percentage..

  9. USM’s Prof Dr Sivamuragan (Anil probably knows him) was the guest commentator for RTM regarding the by election. He’s too reserved in his views not to cross the RTM’s protocol ?

    Calvinsankaran or Yang when they have polished their Bahasa can also apply to be the commentator for RTM ?

  10. Why PKR didn’t win bigger from GST, repressive law and other BN woes. This surely must be a bad sign for PKR and DAP and a good sign for PAS. Pakatan must learn Pmtg Pauh lessons, analysts warn.

    • Another sign is that MCA is still irrelevant to the chinese community despite its persistance in scaring the chinese voters with hudud threat.

  11. To many they thought they have killed the devil but in fact have let in a more devious one unknowingly, PAS. When BN UMNO won with reduced majorities in Rompin, many were quick to point out that it’s due to the GST, 1MDB, UMNO governance or the repressive law that led to the slide. What about the reduced majorities incurred by PKR Azizah. Is it because of GST, 1MDB, the repressive law or UMNO governance? By right Azizah majorities should have been increased is it not !!! No !!!. The result of the by election show that the above issue are very insignificant

    In fact the results in Rompin and Pmtg Pauh have proved one very significant thing. It signals the rise of PAS and the Malays moving towards PAS and Islam. It signals a more radical shift by the Malays towards Islam and an Islamic state as what is now happening in many Muslim countries. Look at the IS fighter that were arrested. They are young, intelligent and educated. As DAP & PKR dig up more issue on 1MDB, GST, Christianity, bible, allah or cross or the dirts of UMNO, you will see more Malay shifting towards PAS which they will now regards as clean and uncorruptible. They would not trust DAP & PKR..

    In Rompin despite a lower turnout, PAS votes increase compared to the last election. In Pmtg Pauh out of the 8841 majorities more than 5000 came from PAS. Their votes also increase compared to PKR & DAP that have slide while UMNO votes increase slightly. In fact the Chinese votes did swing to BN substantially while PKR Malay support also slide substantially. It is PAS that come to the rescue. Take of PAS majorities and Azizah will be staring into defeat. Frankly speaking, I really underestimate PAS and their support. In fact I have come to realize that the skirmishes between PAS & PKR may actually be a sandiwara to potong trip PKR supports.

    With the result we should now be very afraid. PAS really does not need DAP. In fact DAP and PKR will now need PAS. As PAS move towards the stronghold of UMNO and should they be able to defeat UMNO in their areas, PAS would soon be the majorities’ holder in Pakatan. I dread the day when PAS start to gain a foothold in Sabah and Sarawak. Where would that leave DAP. DAP would soon become another barking dog while many UMNO and PKR supporters would be moving more toward PAS. Anwar would soon go into oblivion. If this state of affair come into being, we should be very afraid which is why DAP, the Chinese and non Malay should not be too overjoyed over this Azizah victory.

    Frankly speaking I rather ride on a unicorn or a centaur than a devil in disguise like PAS. I would rather see Lynas, some untransparency or misgovernance than see PAS hudud and an Islamic state which is very real looking from the 2 by election results. Anyway I still believe the coalition, BN UMNO, MCA, MIC, Gerakan and 18 coalition can still ride over PAS, PKR and the chauvinistic DAP. Teluk Intan and Pmtg Pauh have shown that there is a swing of Chinese and non Malay votes towards BN. We have had 56 years of secular governance and I would not want it to turn it any other way with Pakatan DAP, PKR and PAS in charge.

    • The fact is Umno supports PAS to implement hudud in Kelantan. Also Umno has never come out to openly support G25 for moderate Islam. It was the Umno folks who create the cross fiasco in Taman Medan. Jakim under Umno has made Islamic policies affecting non Muslims eg. the new concert guidelines. Umno in Melaka is pushing for no sale of liquor in Malay majority area….

    • When you see Niao Kong jumping up & down against hudud, you are seeing an opportunistic chauvinistic snake-oil politician blowing hate-flames from its nostrils. Knowing the fact that many non-Muslims fear the hudud’s unknown rule of law, tis a ripe time to make a hero of ‘itself’. But has it forgotten the timed-marriage of political convenience tango-ing towards the Jalan-Jalan of Putrajaya? A vow of 2 worlds, one “Oil Can Mix With Water” entity to garner massive support for a Malaysia Baru (until siapa yang sebenar?).
      We don’t make these unholy vows, so why must we seksa sendiri while the real culprits can drive Merc along Gurney Drive to chiah hong?
      Let Karma do the fine job of putting these political idiots to quarrel among themselves.

      Kopi-O smells nice at midnight.

  12. My take on PP result.

    1. If we look at the overall percentage of votes gained, actually they are very much same as in the 2013 GE. In fact there is small drop for PKR (58 vs 59.2) and a small increase in BN’s votes (41.1 vs 40.5). Statistically and practically these are not significant enough.

    2. Looking at the voters’ turnout it was 74% which is way lower than the GE’s number but not unusual for a by-election. Without detailed data it is hard to interpret who stayed home but most likely it is mixed.

    3. If I am to interpret the result, I would say that the result is bad for both parties. PR should have gotten far more votes due to sympathies to Anwar, GST,1MDB, Tun Mahatir’s attacks, Najib/Rosmah factor and the turmoil & disunity in UMNO. However there is no real gains made by PR despite the relentless attacks and demos. On the other hand, BN should have exploited the hudud issues and the resulting DAP/PAS friction to gain more Chinese and PAS conservatives votes. However the results indicate that the Chinese still voted overwhelmingly for PR and PAS somehow managed to get most its supporters in Pematang Pasir to come out and vote.

    However on the balance of things and based on the prevailing political condition, I think BN will be happier with the result as the voters’ support has not dropped significantly as they feared. It is a Pyrrhic victor but nevertheless it should come as a relief. Had PR done better, Najib and BN would have been under far more pressure.

    It certainly seems that PR’s hard work and drama on GST and Najib/Rosmah has not brought any dividends at all. They need to re-think their strategy of demonising BN and instead focus on what they can do better than BN. But then with CM’s Developers First policies aren’t exactly a selling point.

  13. I think the important point to note in the 2 by elections is the subtle shift of the Malay electorate away from UMNO. Prominently in Rompin but much lesser in Permatang Pauh. If the outcome of these 2 elections are reflected nationwide, or at least in the Peninsular, we can see UMNO losing many seats to the opposition. In fact UMNO risks losing seats where its majority in the previous round is less than 4000 votes which basically means we can have a new government in Putra Jaya after GE14 as the East Malaysians may easily be enticed to join the Peninsular winners once UMNO no longer command significant majority support among the Malays in the Peninsular.
    Looks like BN just scored an own goal with GST that it cannot backtrack without significant and damaging erosion to our sovereign rating which may render dire consequences to our economy.

    I believe Tun Dr Mahathir is dead right about PM DS Najib.
    If DS Najib leads BN to the polls in 2018, we shall have a new government in PutraJaya and a fitting close the the RAHMAN prophesy.

  14. The small changes in percentages really don’t matter as there is a clear winner.
    What is more disturbing is the aggression and potential for politically-motivated
    violence as shown by the video.

    The British have a lot to teach us about democracy and elections:

    Of course, the British still have the archaic (and very unfair) first-past-the-post electoral system.
    Which we in Malaysia have also inherited.
    This system should be abandoned for a “proportional representation” system as in the
    Federal Republic of Germany.
    Also, archaic institutions such as the House of Lords in UK and the Senate in Malaysia should be
    abandoned for a single chamber Parliament (as in New Zealand).


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