The Star Online, March 22, 2004
KUALA LUMPUR: The Barisan Nasional has won a massive victory in the general election and in the process recaptured Terengganu and is claiming victory in Kelantan as well.
The victory is a personal triumph for Prime Minister and Barisan chairman Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. He now has a clear mandate from Malaysian voters for his campaign for reforms.
The Barisan sweep in the Malay heartland was such that opposition PAS leader Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang lost his parliamentary seat in Terengganu.
The PAS election machinery was further torn apart when at press time unconfirmed results showed its list of casualties included vice-president Datuk Dr Hassan Mohamed Ali (Parit Buntar), secretary-general Nasharuddin Mat Isa (Besut), and central committee members Mahfuz Omar (Pokok Sena), Mohamed Sabu (Kuala Kedah ) and Datuk Taib Azamudeen (Baling). The party’s charismatic information chief Datuk Dr Haron Din lost in his bid for a state and parliamentary seat in Perlis.
PAS spiritual adviser and Kelantan Mentri Besar Datuk Nik Aziz Nik Mat managed to cling on to his Cempaka state seat.
Parti Keadilan Rakyat lost its parliamentary voice when all its candidates, including party president Datin Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, were rejected by the voters.
The DAP, which was routed in the 1999 elections following its electoral pact with PAS, improved its performance with the return of party chairman Lim Kit Siang and his deputy Karpal Singh to Parliament, but DAP secretary-general Kerk Kim Hock was beaten in Kota Melaka.
The Kota Melaka win was a particularly sweet one for the MCA, which has taken back the seat after 35 years.
Among the Kelantan winners, a big surprise was Datuk Ibrahim Ali in Pasir Mas. Ibrahim contested as an independent candidate following his removal as the Pasir Mas Umno division chief.
Another independent, Datuk John Ghani, who was Sabah Umno deputy information chief, denied the Sabah Barisan a clean sweep of all 60 state seats by winning the Kuala Penyu state seat. He has announced his intention to rejoin Umno.
The MCA also created history when its Sabah state chief Datuk Edward Khoo took the Kepayan state seat.
The party also won back its seats in Kelantan and Terengganu.
The first intimation of a Barisan sweep came at 9pm as news spread of the coalition gaining strongly in the two PAS-ruled states.
The first result of a Barisan winner came from, appropriately, Putrajaya, when just after 7pm Tengku Adnan Mansor was declared victor of the parliamentary seat, making him the first MP of the country’s administrative capital.
Abdullah and his deputy Datuk Seri Najib Razak easily won their Kepala Batas and Pekan parliamentary seats respectively.
The other Barisan leaders who won included MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting in Tanjung Piai, MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu in Sungai Siput and Gerakan president Datuk Seri Dr Lim Keng Yaik in Beruas.
The election was conducted smoothly except in certain places where the process was marred by confusion when voters complained that their names were not on the electoral roll.
In some cases, voting centres did not open because of computer glitches.
The Election Commission extended voting by two hours in Selangor while polling for the Sungai Lembing state seat in Pahang will be held on March 28 following complaints that a wrong logo was printed on the ballot papers.