The defeat of the Barisan Alternative candidate in Sanggang is a setback for democracy and political and economic reforms in Malaysia.
The Barisan Nasional leadership will interpret its success in Sanggang in almost doubling its previous 1,038-vote majority in the general election to 1,963-vote majority as an endorsement of its clampdown on democracy and human rights in the past four months and the continuation of the practices of corruption, cronyism and unaccountable governance.
The Barisan Nasional’s greater majority vote in Sanggang is caused by the ability of UMNO to win back the support of Malay voters it lost in the general election. Although there was a slight increase in the Chinese votes for the Barisan Alternative candidate in yesterday’s by-election as compared to the general election, it was not significant enough to influence the larger result.
DAP and the Barisan Alternative must draw the right lessons from the Sanggang by-election result, both in terms of strategy and tactics and in particular the answer to two important questions: firstly, why the Barisan Alternative had failed to increase or maintain Malay voter support and secondly, why the Barisan Alternative had not been able to make a greater impact on the Chinese voters to counter the MCA and Gerakan lies and falsehoods that a PAS victory will lead to the Chinese becoming an "oppressed race" where there would be no pork, no alcohol, no temples, no Chinese schools, women would have to wear tudung, pretty women cannot find work and there would be the chopping of hands and feet.