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Malaysia election: Mahathir loses in Langkawi, his first electoral defeat since 1969

KANGAR, Perlis - Former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad lost his seat in Parliament after residents of Langkawi on Saturday voted to put Perikatan Nasional (PN) in control of the island constituency.

It is the 97-year-old’s first defeat in Malaysia’s parliamentary elections since he lost in 1969.

The Langkawi seat was won by Datuk Suhaimi Abdullah from PN, with 25,463 votes, or 38.1 per cent of the vote share, on Saturday.

Tun Dr Mahathir managed to garner only 4,566 votes, or 6.8 per cent – less than the 12.5 per cent vote threshold required to keep his deposit as a candidate.

Armishah Siraj of Barisan Nasional (BN) came in second with 11,945 votes, or 17.9 per cent of valid votes.

In comparison, Dr Mahathir won 54.9 per cent of the 34,527 valid votes in the 2018 General Election, beating BN’s 29.1 per cent.

Dr Mahathir’s loss comes despite widespread appreciation for his contributions in Langkawi.

He is widely respected for bringing prosperity and development to the island by declaring it a tax-free haven in 1987, when he was Malaysia’s premier. The move drew a slew of tourism investments, including an international airport, ferry services and luxury hotels.

This loss deals a final blow to Dr Mahathir’s Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang), which contested a total of 121 parliamentary seats, 13 of which were in Kedah.

Kedah, which includes Langkawi, is Dr Mahathir’s home state.

Voters were unconvinced by Dr Mahathir’s promise of repairing the country’s economy and bringing back foreign investments and jobs by eradicating corruption within the government and cleaning up some RM42 billion (S$12.7 billion) in national debt racked up by former prime minister Najib Razak.

There were also voters who had grown disenchanted with Dr Mahathir’s leadership after he resigned as prime minister in 2020 and failed to hand over the reins of government to Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim as promised.

Shannon Teoh adds: In the race for majority in the national parliament, Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Perikatan Nasional (PN) were neck and neck with 82 and 73 parliamentary seats each, with the Umno-led ruling alliance Barisan Nasional (BN) trailing behind with only 30 wins.

PH chief Anwar Ibrahim won a four-cornered fight in Tambun with a majority of 3,736 votes, comfortably defeating his closest challenger Ahmad Faizal Azumu, a federal minister and former Perak Menteri Besar.

Former premier Muhyiddin Yassin retained his Pagoh parliamentary ward, which he first won in 1978, with a 10,007-vote majority.

Malaysia’s longest-serving MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah lost his Gua Musang seat in Kelantan to PN. The BN stalwart – who has held the seat for 12 terms since 1974 – polled 21,663 votes, which is just 163 votes fewer than the winning candidate Mr Mohd Azizi, who claimed 21,826 votes.

Ms Nurul Izzah Anwar, daughter of opposition leader Anwar, was defeated in the family seat of Permatang Pauh in Penang, once considered a bastion for their Parti Keadilan Rakyat, which leads PH.

Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari from PH secured 72,267 votes in Gombak, in a comfortable win over former mentor Azmin Ali from PN, who took 59,538 votes.

Caretaker Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin and caretaker Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz bettered BN’s performance in 2018, but lost in Sungai Buloh and Kuala Selangor, respectively, as their coalition failed to score a single win in Malaysia’s richest state.

Only the three Umno-held states held concurrent polls for their legislative assemblies and initial results showed the party had failed to hold Perlis, while it was not on course to gain simple majorities in Perak and Pahang.

malaysiaMALAYSIA GE 2022Mahathir MohamadMALAYSIA ELECTIONS