The outcome of the Tuesday's Manik Urai by-election was a complete surprise to many of us.
If you believe the Pas hype -- the party had in its hands 2,000 votes (majority) an hour before polling ended -- you'd think Pas would be romping home with a big win.
On Umno's side, grassroots leaders talked of "reduced majority", although top party leaders indicated that it had a 'good chance' of winning. Nobody quite believed that. And if you did, you'd be disappointed simply because you'd wish that Umno could've done a little better, and win.
The results -- Pas won BUT by a miserable 65-vote majority.
( Pas candidate Mohd Fauzi Abdullah obtained 5,348 votes while Barisan Nasional's Tuan Aziz Tuan Mat, 5,283. In last year's general election, Pas' Ismail Yaakob defeated Mohamed Zulkifli Omar of the Barisan Nasional (BN) with a majority of 1,352 votes.)
How bad is it for Pas?
Pas spiritual leader Nik Aziz Nik Mat is not about to be pushed to a corner and take the blame. A little responsibility, perhaps, but not sole blame.
He is blaming it on Umno' money politics.
If that is so, then, the voters are a very corrupt lot too. I'm not inclined to believe that they are.
In this round, I'd have to disagree with Nik Aziz.
Or, was it wrong for the voters to have been convinced by Umno that it could help change their lives for the better?
If it were money politics, as described by the Tok Guru, Umno would have been slaughtered. No mercy.
You cannot deny Umno's markedly improved performance. And credit MUST surely go to Mustapa Mohamad, Kelantan Umno chief.
Pas has a lot of work to do now. A lot of cleaning up.
And it's really not complicated to understand what happened and why. But Pas must accept the reality, the truth, no matter how ugly and how brutal. the sooner it works to mend fences and rectify the situation, the better it is for the party.
A combination of factors - Pas' "unholy marriage" with DAP is not going down well among many Malays; as well as the infighting and rift in the party. And of course, Tok Pa.
That said, Umno must get over the high, the jubilation. And quickly. Yes, it is a moral victory. Still a defeat.
Whether this is a signal of what's to come remains to be seen and depends on how Pas overcomes whatever shortcomings.
Besides, nothing is permanent.