PETALING JAYA - The failure of Barisan Nasional to answer questions raised by the rakyat about 1MDB and GST was one of the factors for the defeat in the Permatang Pauh by-election, said Umno deputy president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.
The Deputy Prime Minister said rural and semi-rural voters were no longer interested in development issues and were more attracted to current issues, such as the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB).
"The 1MDB issue was not even touched throughout Barisan's campaign because it is hard to explain, causing us to become weakened and even exploited by the Opposition by linking the implementation of GST to solving 1MDB's debts," Utusan Malaysia reported Muhyiddin as telling reporters covering his three-day official visit in Milan yesterday.
PKR comfortably retained the Permatang Pauh parliamentary seat but with a smaller majority when its president Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail, 62, polled 30,316 votes to beat Barisan candidate Suhaimi Sabudin by 8,841 votes, lower than the 11,721-vote majority garnered by Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim in the 2013 general election.
Muhyiddin, who was Barisan election director for the Permatang Pauh and Rompin by-elections, said the results of both polls must be taken as a lesson as the rakyat demanded concrete and immediate action involving issues such as 1MDB that had become "toxic", causing negative perception in their minds.
"The reality is that the main question asked by the rakyat must be answered. It also means that each issue raised by the public towards the Government must be managed and addressed immediately.
"We cannot say that just because there are no by-elections, we can wait until the 14th general election to explain matters. We cannot do that as it will be too late," he said, adding that other issues such as the rising cost of living and hudud had also impacted Barisan's performance.
In a separate statement, Umno vice-president Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal said the Government's credibility would be questioned if the issue of Lembaga Tabung Haji's purchase of land at the Tun Razak Exchange from 1MDB was not handled properly.
"The issue has become a concern not only to me but also the public. I urge that the issue be taken seriously so that the public and stakeholders in Tabung Haji can continue to be confident about their investment," he said.