AUG 26 Every election produces winners and losers. Here is The Malaysian Insider's take on who emerged from Permatang Pauh with credit and who should hit the soul-searching button.
- Anwar Ibrahim The Barisan Nasional threw the kitchen sink and everything in it at him but by next sitting he will take his place in Parliament. This all but completes his rehabilitation from a political has-been 10 years ago to possibly the next prime minister of Malaysia. He now faces the near impossible task of persuading at least 30 BN MPs to cross over to Pakatan Rakyat and forcing the collapse of the Barisan Nasional by Sept 16. But for today at least he can savour the taste of victory. And yes, the debate on who should be the prime minister-in-waiting is over.
- Pakatan Rakyat For the past two months, there have been serious questions over the future of this alliance. Some Pas leaders seemed keen on joining forces with Umno, concerned that Malay rights and the position of Islam were being diluted in Pakatan Rakyat. DAP and Pas also disagreed publicly on who should be the prime-minister-in-waiting and squabbled over the spoils of Election 2008. Guess what? All the differences were forgotten as members of PKR, DAP and Pas descended on Permatang Pauh. They outwitted and outfought the formidable BN machinery.
- Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat When others wavered, the Pas spiritual leader stood firmly beside Anwar, campaigning tirelessly and defending the Opposition icon against the sodomy charge. By far, he was the single most powerful antidote against Saiful Bukhari Azlan swearing on the Quran that he had been sodomised by Anwar. He has emerged with reputation and image among PKR supporters burnished.
- Umno The charade is over. This is a party without spirit. This is a party without a leader. Ministers, deputy ministers and other senior party officials all campaigned in Permatang Pauh but it was more out of duty than anything else. There was no fire in their bellies. Some could not care less how Datuk Arif Shah Omar Shah performed in the polls. They showed up in the constituency to canvass for support in the upcoming divisional elections in October. One former menteri besar, eyeing a top position in the party, holed up in a hotel and dished out cash to streams of divisional officials. This is a party made of politicians who are consumed with their own interest and completely detached from reality. This could be the beginning of the end of this once powerful party.
- The Barisan Nasional machinery There was a time when the Opposition used to shudder at the prospect of facing the formidable machinery, the women who used to campaign tirelessly from dusk to dawn, the men who braved the elements to tear down Opposition posters and ferry voters to the polling station. Not anymore. Dispirited, they just did the bare minimum in Permatang Pauh. In fact, it was the Pakatan Rakyat machinery which caught the eye. Their workers displayed the spirit of volunteerism which was once patented by the BN. How the mighty have fallen.
- Abdullah Ahmad Badawi He was not in charge of the BN by-election team but the president of Umno and the chairman of the BN will not be able to absolve himself of blame for this dismal showing. The unvarnished fact is that he has not been able to inspire his party or the ruling coalition since March 8. If his party workers are listless, it is because they do not see him as a general capable of galvanising the troops in the face of an enemy's onslaught. If his coalition partners are feeble, it is because they do not see him as a leader capable of reviving the BN. In all likelihood, there will be calls for him to speed up the transfer of power.
- Najib Razak Without a doubt, the deputy prime minister is hurting. The uninterrupted stream of attacks on his character, his wife and allegations that he was involved with the murdered Mongolian model Altantuya Shariibuu have damaged him in the eyes of the public. His words once used to carry weight but now they ring hollow. His decision to swear in a mosque that he was not involved with Altantuya did not find popular support. Still, he remains best placed to take over from Abdullah. But he will need much repair to his image before he can claim to have the support of Malaysians.
- Saiful Bukhari Azlan He claimed it was a coincidence but his decision to swear on the Quran on the eve of nomination day that he was sodomised by Anwar does not look very clever now. A snap poll of 544 Malay voters by the Merdeka Centre painted him as a pawn in a political game. He should stay out of the limelight till the trial begins.