BN candidate Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh, handpicked by outgoing Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Badawi, was defeated in what has been described as a crucial parliamentary by-election, by PAS's Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut.
The wrong choice of candidate, it seems, has been cited as one of the reasons for BN's loss. Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid was perceived as being less friendly, due to his serious demeanour. Concerned about this perception of its candidate, the BN machinery was said "to scramble " to dismiss such notion and explained to voters that his natural look should be used as the main consideration when they cast their votes. And while Wan Ahmad Farid was seen as unfriendly and even "arrogant", Pas believes its choice of candidate had worked to its advantage.
ZUBAIDAH ABU BAKAR: Not the time for witch-hunt but to delve into party woes
THE more questions asked, the clearer it is that the personality of the candidate could not have been the only reason for Barisan Nasional's defeat in Kuala Terengganu.
It would thus not be fair for Umno members to point fingers at Datuk Wan Ahmad Farid Wan Salleh. It would equally be off the mark to lay the election loss at the feet of Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, with whom Wan Farid has been closely associated. Will the media also be a target of the blame game?
Before Umno members go witch-hunting, they should do a muhasabah diri (self-examination) of the roles played by those involved in the by-election.
Was the election machinery well oiled, yet lagging in strategic planning, implementation and sophistication compared with the opposition's? Pakatan Rakyat has attributed the victory of Pas candidate Mohd Abdul Wahid Endut, who is Wakaf Mempelam assemblyman, to its highly organised machinery and teamwork. Was there a lack of commitment on the part of Umno campaigners to prevail despite the party leadership having declared Kuala Terengganu a must-win seat?
Deputy Prime Minister and Umno deputy president Datuk Seri Najib Razak said many factors had contributed to the BN's failure to retain the seat it had won in the March 2008 general election with a 628-vote margin.
The answers to the questions could shed light on the actual reasons for the defeat on Saturday and pave the way for solutions to address the weaknesses. Wan Farid lost to Wahid Endut of Pas by 2,631 votes while independent candidate Azharudin Mamat @ Adam polled 193 votes.Tens of thousands of Umno members were in the Terengganu state capital but many, including party leaders, were mere political tourists.
There were campaigners who toiled and sweated, but they were outnumbered two to one by those who went binge shopping on Terengganu songket and batik, and spent hours at hotel coffee houses discussing the impending Umno elections.Large groups also spent their time trailing Abdullah, Najib and other party leaders when their opponents were out in the field bringing in votes.
An estimated 10,000 BN members were in Kuala Terengganu on nomination day but more than half were gone the next day. It appeared that the big Umno crowd, with their luxury cars congesting the roads, only came together when party leaders were in town. These are not the sort of people to put up posters or distribute flyers or to stop at warung or gerai to have tea with the locals.
In the opposition camp, university professors, doctors, lawyers and other professionals joined forces with party workers to display posters and hand out election pamphlets. Most of the party workers were young and manned their operation centres round-the-clock.
On the BN side, very few centres remained open after midnight. Members of the press and those who came to observe the by-election were baffled when Umno members packed Sultan Ismail Nasiruddin Shah stadium to watch a performance (read here) of songs and dances organised by the Information Department.
Isn't the last 24 hours of campaigning crucial?
Umno should stop looking for scapegoats and address the roots of its problems. Until it does, it will not succeed in removing the perception of arrogance and elitism that hangs over it. The NST
Pasqual's BN would have had better chances if the candidate was not Wan Farid
Nobisha's Rakyat Nak Monsoon Drain, Umno beri Monsoon Cup!
Lawyer Kampung's The blame game