BUKIT MERTAJAM, 26 Aug 2008: Datuk Seri Najib Razak said the Barisan Nasional (BN) respects the decision of the voters in the Permatang Pauh parliamentary by-election on 26 Aug, which reflects that democracy is still alive in the country.
Commenting on the victory of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) advisor Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the by-election, Najib said it proved that the "democratic practice in this country is not flawed". He said this at a press conference in Bukit Mertajam on 26 Aug night.
Anwar won with a majority of 15,671 votes in the parliamentary by-election. He obtained 31,195 votes while BN candidate Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah received 15,524 votes and the Angkatan Keadilan Insan Malaysia candidate, Hanafi Mamat, had only 92 votes.
Congratulating Anwar for his victory, Najib, who is also BN chairman, said the BN respected the decision of the people in choosing Anwar as the member of Parliament for the constituency.
"As we have pointed out right from the start, we would be facing a tough challenge," he said.
In this by-election, the number of votes garnered by the BN dropped by 1,426 votes compared with the March 2008 general election. Najib said the BN would study and address the weaknesses of the coalition.
He added, however, that although the PKR had won the parliamentary seat, the number of opposition members of Parliament did not increase.
Najib said although the BN had initially expected to reduce the PKR majority, it failed because the sentiments of the Permatang Pauh residents for PKR were still strong.
"It’s still too early to state the factors for our loss," he said. "Although we lost, the BN will fulfil its pledges to the people of Permatang Pauh.”
Asked to comment on the level cooperation in the BN election machinery, Najib said: "Generally, it was good. But we will study the matter in greater detail."
Meanwhile, the Klang Member of Parliment, Charles Santiago from DAP, believed the BN had not taken the by-election seriously, which could lead to the defeat.
The BN seemed to be more interested in Anwar’s morality than in thinking about the rakyat’s welfare, he said.
"We (DAP) never doubt that Anwar would win. I feel the people in Barisan Nasional think that he (Anwar) will get lesser votes than his wife," Santiago said when contacted by telephone from Kuala Lumpur.
PAS Youth head Salahuddin Ayub described Anwar’s victory as the start of a major change for the people and country.
Meanwhile, Perlis PAS commissioner, Ustaz Hashim Jasin, said the PKR victory showed that the people rejected all the personal issues raised against Anwar. – Bernama