Anwar Ibrahim is back in Parliament bagging 71% of votes cast in the Port Dickson, despite a lower turnout.
He improved on PH’s performance in the 9 May 2018 general election, when the PKR candidate, Danyal Balagopal, collected 59% of votes cast. But his tally of 31,000-plus votes was lower than the 36,000-plus picked up by Danyal at the general election.
The combined share of the Pas candidate and Isa Samad dropped to 27% from the 41% total that Pas and BN bagged at the general election. This suggests that the race-religion combination has not made any headway in the new Malaysia – or in Port Dickson at least. You would have thought that Pas would have grabbed a large chunk of the votes from the 18,515 votes collected on 9 May by BN, which stayed out of the Port Dickson by-election – but the Islamic party didn’t.
Despite his large majority, Anwar will have to reflect on the misgivings that many urbanites and activists harbour about him. Some of them are the same people who used to support his cause during his many trials and tribulations since 1998. Maybe they fear that he is now pandering to the old guard who indulge in the politics of race and religion instead of moving forward with the rest of the rakyat in the new Malaysia and consolidating our democratic gains. They base their perceptions on what he has said, who he has met since his release from prison, his dismissive remarks about Bersih, and how he seems to be in a bit of a hurry. Or perhaps they think that Mahathir has a better chance of pulling Malaysia forward. Oh, the irony of it all!
The coming months will determine which Anwar we will see. Hopefully, Anwar will be committed to the reform agenda of the movement that was galvanised by the injustice he suffered all those years ago.