Monday March 10, 2008
Negri has been Barisan stronghold for past two decades
SEREMBAN: Unbelievable. That was how Datuk Seri Mohamad Hassan described the performance of the Opposition in his Negri Sembilan state which has been a Barisan Nasional stronghold for the past two decades.
“We had anticipated losing five state and a parliamentary seat at the most ... this is unbelievable,” he told a press conference early yesterday when all the results were in.
The Opposition won 15 out of the 36 seats in the state – its best performance ever.
He was especially startled over the Umno losses in Ampangan and Sikamat.
Some party insiders said the dropping of senior party members and retaining of others had caused a rift within the party but others blamed the national winds of change that were blowing.
Even the DAP, which won 10 of 11 seats it contested, were surprised at how well they did.
“No one in the DAP had dared to dream that we would win this big,” said the party’s Seremban candidate John Fernandez who defeated the hugely popular Datuk Yu Chok Tow.
Umno may have won in 17 other seats but significantly, the PKR and PAS had made inroads in the state, winning five seats.
State DAP chairman Anthony Loke Siew Fook said he had always been confident that the party would win at least six state seats.
The only seat the party lost was in Chennah where its youngest candidate, How Wee Shiong, 27, lost to Barisan’s Siow Shen Tin by a 1,298-vote majority.
However, Loke was quick to admit that the DAP did not win the seats solely due to the swing in Chinese votes but had the support of the Malays especially in the Seremban parliamentary seat.
MCA’s Yu said the loss was totally unexpected.
“I was stumped when told that the Opposition had won in some of the state seats in the constituency. This is shocking,” said Yu who held a state exco post before the dissolution of the state assembly.
State PKR chief Datuk Kamarul Baharin Abbas, 60, who unseated MIC vice-president Datuk S. Sothinathan for the Teluk Kemang parliamentary seat, finds it difficult to comprehend why so many were shocked over the Opposition’s victory.
The PKR also won the Chuah, Sikamat, Ampangan and Port Dickson state seats.
PAS, which never won a seat in Negri Sembilan, also made it this time when its 39-year-old candidate Mohamad Taufek Abd Ghani won the Paroi seat.