Pakatan Harapan parties will struggle to build on the successes of the previous two elections now that they must likely contend with both PAS and Barisan Nasional, according to political experts.
The pact’s inability to convince PAS to join a larger Opposition coalition is set to cost them support, particularly among rural and Malay voters who have traditionally supported either the Islamist party or Umno.
Having already won over the majority of urban areas, the Islamist party’s rejection of any cooperation with the pact will make the challenge of winning over rural constituencies that much more difficult.
“Rural Malays, which make up majority of parliamentary seats, see two things as essential: Malay privileges and special position of Islam. Pakatan Harapan and Dr Mahathir (PPBM) can offer neither.
“Amanah may pick up a few urban Malay majority seats… even that is doubtful,” Oh Ei Sun, adjunct senior Fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore told Malay Mail Online when contacted.
He said that rural votes will mostly likely go to Umno or PAS due to their championing of Malay and Islamic rights, while Pakatan Harapan’s harping on BN’s alleged corruption scandals has done nothing to address the lack of support from the community.
“I even suspect PPBM and Pakatan Harapan may not come to agreement on seat allocation,” Oh added.
Faisal Hazis, associate professor at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Institute of Malaysian and International Studies, said that the only way for Pakatan Harapan to have any chance at winning federal power was to secure votes in the rural Malay heartland.
Potentially squaring off against both PAS and BN in three-cornered fights will make this a very difficult task, he added.
“Without a strong opposition, or electoral pact, it is a foregone conclusion that they can’t win,” he told Malay Mail Online when contacted.
For PAS, Faisal said that the party’s change in stance on cooperation with Umno is a telling sign that their allegiance is no longer with their former allies in the opposition.
“The disappointing thing is that PAS knows they only made inroads in the last GE because of a common platform between opposition parties. They (PAS) might as well join Umno and make it clear to everyone,” he added.
But another analyst, Ooi Kee Beng, believes that PAS’ influence among Opposition supporters will be limited, and that voters will not be taken in by the party’s push for a stronger Islamisation agenda.
“Outside of politics, Malaysian society is a moderate one, and political parties cannot take an extremist line without paying the cost for it. We must not forget East Malaysia and the new dynamics there either.
“Demands for more autonomy in the face of stronger Islamisation on the peninsula have to be factored into the equation,” the deputy director of Singapore’s ISEAS-Yusof Ishak Institute told Malay Mail Online.
Last week, PAS president Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang said his party will not work with any party that allies with DAP and Amanah, after former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad gave the Islamist party one month to decide on joining PPBM and Pakatan Harapan.
Hadi said this applied not only to Dr Mahathir’s PPBM, but also PKR that is in Pakatan Harapan with the two parties.
On February 1, PAS and PPBM formed a joint committee that was tasked with framing an outline for political cooperation between both parties ahead of the 14th general election that must be held no later than August next year.
The Islamist party fell out with secular DAP in 2015, leading to the breakup of the Pakatan Rakyat partnership formed after the landmark Election 2008 that denied the ruling BN its customary two-thirds control of Parliament for the first time in decades.
PPBM president Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin previously proposed a new political pact called Barisan Rakyat or the People’s Front, which would ostensibly include his party, PAS and the entirety of Pakatan Harapan.
Source : SHAZWAN MUSTAFA KAMAL @ Malay Mail Online