SIBU, May 16 — The DAP pulled off a surprise win in the Sibu by-election today, defeating Barisan Nasional’s (BN) SUPP by 398 votes in a hard fought race, official results show.
DAP 18845 votes
BN 18447 votes
Independent 232 votes
DAP won with majority 398
BN had earlier been expected to retain its Sarawak stronghold but lost despite the best efforts of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
The Sibu vote is seen as a bellwether for the Sarawak state elections which must be called by next year.
Today’s result is significant in that Pakatan Rakyat (PR) has snapped a streak of successive defeats to BN in recent by-elections.
The count now is 8-3 in favour of PR in terms of wins in by-elections held since Election 2008.
Today’s result is also a setback for Najib who had personally campaigned for BN and had placed his own reputation on the line.
Najib has been counting on Sabah and Sarawak as BN’s fixed deposit, but today’s result shows a major swing from 2008 when BN won the seat by more than 3,000 votes.
Today’s result also raises two thorny issues — how to deal with the Tan Sri Taib Mahmud factor and whether to push for state polls which sources say had been slated for October this year.