Malaysia Chronicles 22 June 2015

If Umno continues to self-destruct with infighting and corruption allegations, and BN remains in disarray, pundits are convinced the opposition stands a chance to take Putrajaya in the next general election.

“BN component parties have problems, MIC has become a joke but nobody bothers to talk about it,” said Wan Saiful Wan Jan, who heads the Institute of Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) think-tank.

He was referring to MIC leadership tussle, where president G Palanivel has suspended his deputy, Dr S Subramaniam. However the latter claims he is the new acting president and that Palanivel is no longer a member of the party.

Wan Saiful added that MCA is not in a healthy state either, while in Umno, Prime Minister Najib Abdul Razak is under continual attack from former premier Dr Mahathir Mohamad.

“It’s quite positive that the opposition stands a fair chance to take Putrajaya if Umno continues to destroy itself.”

However, Wan Saiful added this is also subject to how soon the new opposition coalition is formed and if it manages to tackle its challenges head on.

Attacks on Najib

Political analyst Tang Ah Chai reckoned that the issues brought by Mahathir and other detractors pose a threat to Najib and his administration.

“Mahathir continues to play up the issues of debt-laden 1Malaysia Development Berhad (1MDB) and the luxurious lifestyle of Najib’s family. He has attacked Najib alone, but left BN and Umno untouched.

“If Najib fails to handle this diligently, he will not only strike the rakyat as an incompetent leader, but will be perceived and labeled as a leader with integrity issues,” added Tang.

Citing the former Sarawak Chief Minister Abdul Taib Mahmud, where the opposition had mounted a sustained attack on his integrity, Tang warned that the premier may face the same experience if he fails to resolve this issue. At this point, Najib’s (photo) refusal to step down favours the opposition pact, he reckoned.

Tang however said it was too early to tell if the opposition will make it to Putrajaya.

“When Mahathir took up the issue of 1MDB, it became a hot issue as the rakyat generally shared his views. However the opposition has failed to harp on it for its benefit, but instead were busy with their internal problems,” he said.

As they gear up for the battles in the next general election, they need the support from the civil movement and voters to materialise political change.

The political tsunami wouldn’t have happened in 2008 and 2013 poll without the people changing their mindset and believing they could bring change through their votes, he asserted.

However he noted the opposition-ruled states have failed to showcase they are different from the BN-led government in term of integrity and moderate governance, citing the alcohol ban issue in Selangor as an example. Thus they are unable to convince the public that they will make a better government.

“However, politics is not static, it is full of changes. We will see what happens in the next two years,” he said.

Tang expected with new seats established following redelineation of constituency boundaries and realignments in opposition politics, there may be friction between the opposition parties in negotiating for seats.

This would could be an issue in seats eyed by two or three parties, now that comradeship of the Pakatan coalition longer binds DAP, PKR, and PAS.

“We may witness three-corner or multi-corner fights if Pakatan no longer functions,” he predicted.

Progressives may make presence felt

Political analyst Wong Chin Huat said if PAS fields candidates in seats contested by the new party mooted by the PAS progressive faction, then they will be treated as ‘spoilers’.

PAS may choose to stand against the progressive faction, but will not be successful especially in the mixed seats, he said.

In fact, 90 out to 222 seats won during the last election were marginal parliamentary seats, where the candidates only manage to secure 40.2 to 55.8 percent votes, according to Wikipedia. Out of this, 59 marginal seats were held by BN while 38 held by the then Pakatan coalition.

Out of the 38 marginal seats, 13 were held by PAS.

In the Sepang parliamentary seat, PAS candidate and progressive leader Mohamed Hanipa Maidin only secured 49.1 percent or 36,774 votes in a multi-corner fight; In Kuala Krai, PAS’s liberal leader Mohd Hatta Ramli, only got 27,919 or 51.2 percent votes then.

Wong however does not see the new party mooted by the PAS’s liberal faction quarrelling with PKR or DAP.

It will probably concede a few seats to its allies as they may be not ready to challenge all the seats contested by PAS.

S’wak not affected if Pakatan dissolves

The demise of Pakatan would not affect Sarawak, as PAS is as good as non-existent in the state, said Professor Jayum Jawan.

“I don’t see PKR and DAP having any problems when comes to seats negotiation,” said Jayum, who is the deputy head (politics, security cluster and international cluster) of the National Professors Council.

“This is because they have their own niches in Sarawak which do not conflict with each other,” he told Malaysiakini.

“With Pakatan’s demise, they may still cooperate with each other in the next state election,” he added.

But, DAP has yet to make traction beyond the rural constituencies, and the issues brought by PKR were not accepted well among the Dayak communities, Jayum (photo) argued.

“PKR talked about human rights, religion and international issues, which appeals only to urban people. DAP has no place in rural areas. The scandals surrounding Najib such as 1MDB and his family’s extravagance, had only made impact in urban areas.

“Even so, Chinese voters who reside in the urban areas had spoken at last general and state elections,” he said, adding DAP, which basically won all the Chinese seats in the last election, may not be able to go further than that.”

‘Bread and butter’

Jayum added that the Dayak community in the rural areas cared much more about bread and butter issues. They were not bothered if the wife of the prime minister wore diamond rings.

“Adenan will win in the next state election. There is no question about it. But the question is whether Adenan would be able to garner two-thirds of the state assembly,” he said.

This is because Parti Tenaga Sarawak (Teras) , the splinter party of SPDP and The United People’s Party (UPP), the party that broke away from SUPP, were fighting each other, he said, adding this was the only reason that may set BN back in terms of seats gained.

However, despite people still talking about former chief minister Taib Mahmud who is now governor of Sarawak, he is no longer a factor in the next state election.

“He may interfere (in state affairs) behind the scenes, but Adenan should be thankful Taib knows how to conduct himself after leaving office,” he said.

Generally, the mood in Sarawak is good for a snap poll, and a good time for it is after Hari Raya, he noted.

“Adenan is widely accepted and the Dayak people are warming towards Najib – at least they listen to him.

“So, instead of having a situation forced on you to dissolve the state assembly, why not make your own call?” he suggested. – M’kini

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