Malaysia

Barisan, Mah regain Teluk Intan after six years with 238-vote majority

Mah celebrates after defeating DAP's Dyana Sofya by a 238-vote majority in the Teluk Intan by-election. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, May 31, 2014.Mah celebrates after defeating DAP's Dyana Sofya by a 238-vote majority in the Teluk Intan by-election. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Afif Abd Halim, May 31, 2014.Barisan Nasional (BN) candidate Datuk Mah Siew Keong has won the Teluk Intan by-election, defeating DAP's Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud with a majority of 238 votes.

The Election Commission officially declared the Gerakan president the winner with 20,157 votes against Dyana's 19,919. There were 550 spoilt votes.

Mah had previously been the member of Parliment for Teluk Intan after winning the seat in the 1999 and 2004 general elections.

In the last two general elections, Mah lost to M. Manogaran (in 2008 by a 1,830 vote majority) and Seah Leong Peng (2013, 7,313 majority), both of DAP.

The announcement of the official result was delayed by more than an hour as the initial counting of votes, which concluded just before 8.30pm, showed that BN had won by the same slim majority.

The DAP said at the time that they might consider asking for a recount due to the very low majority.

"We are disappointed with the results, but I think we knew it would be a tough fight right from the beginning," DAP election strategist Dr Ong Kian Ming told The Malaysian Insider at the DAP's operation centre in Teluk Intan.

"I think Dyana is a candidate who fought well and represented herself well. So I hope that this can represent the spirit of the party moving forward even though we have a temporary setback."

DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng said the party would take some time to examine the results before deciding whether to challenge it.

He said he believed DAP lost because Dyana was a new and young female candidate, the voter turnout was low, and BN had promised development for Teluk Intan should Mah win.

"We don't deny this is the first time we were bringing in a Malay candidate, and the voters are not familiar with her," Lim told reporters.

"We have to work harder to convince people that development is our right, and not the privilege of the BN government."

'Knocked down barriers'

In a statement released tonight, Dyana called the result a "victory in defeat".

"In spite of the tremendous odds stacked against us, we managed to knock down barriers previously thought impossible, and that is the real victory," she said.

Lamenting on how close she came to winning, she said she still felt proud that her team had given their all "against the might of the entire federal government machinery".

"Despite the negative and malicious campaigning, the people of Teluk Intan have shown their strong support for the ideas, struggles and principles that my party and I stand for. Nonetheless, I congratulate Datuk Mah Siew Keong on his victory," she added.

Dyana also considered the result a great personal achievement as well as a progressive step forward for the party.

"I accept the outcome positively, and vow to strengthen my resolve and continue fighting for the hopes and dreams of all Malaysians. I would like to take this opportunity to thank the party leadership for their unflinching support, the campaign team for their tireless commitment, and our volunteers who sacrificed so much time and energy.

"I would also like to thank our coalition partners, the leaders from PAS and PKR, and in particular, the local Teluk Intan PAS machinery and the PAS Muslimat, for all their efforts and solidarity.

"Finally, I would like to extend my most sincere appreciation to each and every voter of Teluk Intan. You have let me in to your lives and I will continue what I have started. This is not the end but merely the beginning," she said.

She expressed the hope that "thousands, if not millions of Malaysians also believe in the goal of 'Malaysianising' Malaysia", promising that a day will come when "we will all roar together for a new Malaysia".

Turning point for Gerakan

Meanwhile, Bernama reported Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak congratulating Mah and Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who led the BN campaign, as well as the BN election machinery for their hard work.

Najib said it was "sweet" news to him on the final night of his official visit to China in conjunction with the 40th anniversary of Malaysia-China diplomatic ties.

"I am very thankful to Allah... I am very happy to know the BN won, although by a narrow majority. But under the democratic system, even one vote is good enough for victory," he told Malaysian journalists accompanying him on the trip.

Bernama also quoted Mah as saying that he believes this win, albeit narrow, is a turning point for Gerakan.

"I am proud of the cooperation and support from all BN component parties that led to this victory," Mah told reporters shortly after being declared the winner.

He is also expected to rejoin the Cabinet soon as a minister following Najib's promise on Thursday.

According to Bernama, the PM had said that as Gerakan was a founding party of the BN coalition, it was normal practice for the president of a component party to join the Cabinet.

After retaining the Teluk Intan parliamentary seat in 2004, Mah was appointed Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister, and from 2006 to 2008, he was Deputy Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister, all under the Tun Abdullah Ahmad Badawi administration.

The final official voter turnout at the Teluk Intan by-election was 66.7% with 40,236 of 60,438 registered voters coming out to cast their ballots. The previous general election saw an 80.7% voter turnout. – May 31, 2014.

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