While Malaysia’s parliament currently hangs in the balance after yesterday’s election, with neither Perikatan Nasional (PN) or Pakatan Harapan (PH) coalitions having the majority to form a government (despite their leaders’ claims), what is most shocking was the crushing defeat for Barisan Nasional (BN), the right-wing alliance led by the once undefeatable Umno party.
Out of the 191 seats that Barisan Nasional contested in the 15th general election (GE15), it only won 30.
The results of GE15 on the election commission’s website show that PH wins the most seats at 82, followed by PN (73) and BN (30).
Meanwhile, Islamist party PAS is currently the largest party in parliament with 44 MPs followed by DAP (40) and PKR (31).
Screengrab from the Election Commission’s results of the 15th general election
BN chairman Zahid Hamidi issued a statement last night in which he acknowledged that his coalition recognised the vote outcome but refrained from admitting defeat.
“BN considers that the result of GE15 as a big signal given by the people towards us.”
“Nevertheless, BN will commit to continue contributing to see that a stable government can be established, we are ready to set aside our previous differences in sentiment,” he said in the statement.
PN, led by former prime minister Muhyiddin Yassin, delivered the biggest blow to Umno after it reduced support for the grand old party in its historical bastions.
The PN alliance comprises a Malay-centric party (Bersatu), which portrays itself as anti-corrupt, and an Islamist party (PAS) that has touted shariah law in the past.
Malay Muslims form the majority community in Malaysia followed by ethnic Chinese, Indians and other minorities. Race and religion remain sensitive and divisive issues in the country.
Annuar Musa, former BN secretary-general, expressed his displeasure with the party’s appalling GE15 performance, calling it a “nightmare”.
“At last, the nightmare scenario I predicted and asked to avoid has become a reality. This is very disappointing.
“The Quran spoke the truth. Divisiveness will weaken you and sap away your strength,” he said in a Facebook post.
Annuar was surprisingly dropped as a parliamentary candidate in GE15 despite being the incumbent Ketereh MP, allegedly due to his questionable loyalty towards Zahid.
Annuar further said that he had attempted to build rapport and collaborate with other parties but was branded a traitor despite his desire for racial harmony.
“So, where do we go next? Forming a new alliance with a coalition that we rejected? Are we going to go against the decision made during our annual general meeting?
“Back down, enough with this destruction and listen to the voices of the people and understand their needs. Stop being arrogant,” said Annuar.
It is speculated that BN’s defeat came as a result of widespread Malay rejection of Zahid’s leadership.
The embattled Umno leader, who is facing 47 charges of corruption, fought tooth and nail by removing those who were vocal against his leadership prior to the election.
Many suspect the 69-year-old desperately pushed for holding the general election as soon as possible in hopes that the charges against him would be dropped if Umno won.
However, it seems like that plan has backfired and is likely to result in the end of Zahid’s reign as Umno president. Although he will remain as the Bagan Datuk MP after winning a 348-vote majority in GE15.
There have already been calls from Umno leaders for Zahid to step down.