By Aathi Shankar
Pakatan Harapan is panicking upon seeing the consolidation of the Umno-PAS political alliance.
The way PH went on the offensive to belittle, ridicule and slam the Umno-PAS combo clearly showed that the ruling federal coalition was shaken although not necessarily stirred.
Who won’t be!
Umno-PAS is a formidable political force to be reckoned with that PH cannot ignore or brush aside with disdain.
Umno-PAS pact is based largely on Malay-Muslim unity, a crucial electoral factor, isn’t it?
Although PH won the 14th General Election (GE14), it didn’t win the majority Malay votes.
At a glance, Umno’s popular vote tally in GE14 was 2,548,251, followed by the DAP with 2,098,068.
PKR received 2,096,776, PAS got 2,041,580 followed by PPBM with 696,087 and PAN 648,274.
PPBM’s vote bank is a little over a quarter of Umno’s while PAN’s vote bank is bit under a third of PAS’.
The analysis showed that BN, mainly Umno, won 35% to 40% of Malay voters, followed by PAS at 30%-33% and PH combined at 25%-30%.
Had it not been three-corner duels in many Malay-Muslim majority seats in GE14, PH will not be the federal government today.
PH, consisting of PKR, DAP, PPBM and PAN, actually crawled over the finishing line with 45.56% popular votes.
A political block needs at least 112 parliamentary seats to form the federal government with a simple majority.
On GE14 election night of May 9, 2018, a wobbly PH barely scraped past the post with just 113 seats, comprising PKR 47, DAP 42, Pribumi 13 and PAN 11.
A year later, however, PH boasts 130 MPs, due to party hopping by political opportunists.
Umno won 54 federal seats on election night but now left with 38 as 16 MPs had defected – 12 frogging into PPBM and 2 others claiming to be independents.
Led by Tun Mahathir Mohamad, PH captured the federal government on an anti-Barisan Nasional (BN) wave.
Initially, thanks public prolonged euphoria over BN’s historic defeat and extended political honeymoon period doled to a new government, PH enjoyed considerable public support at least until the end of 2018
Since the beginning of this year, however, nothing seems has gone right for PH.
PH currently faces growing trust deficit and a downturn in public support.
Disgruntled people have taken PH to task for failing to fulfil its pre-election promises, flip-flopping in its policies and making U-turns on many previous BN policies that PH leaders condemned outright in the past.
Promises to cut down the cost of living; reduce prices of goods and services, especially fuel; erase National Higher Education Fund Corporation (PTPTN) loans; abolish highway tolls; provide free education; among others, have all gone down to the drain.
Mahathir’s subsequent statement to ridicule election manifesto as “not a holy book that one must adhere to” did not go down well with the voters.
In other words, Mahathir is saying that PH had conned its way to Putrajaya.
Voters felt insulted and humiliated by PH false election promises.
Now they yearn for retributions, hence growing public distrust and discontent.
The immediate post-GE14 reaction by a jubilant and triumphant public was to predict a premature demise of BN.
PH really thought Malaysia’s 7th Prime Minister (PM7) Mahathir, who was previously PM4 for 22 years, would finish off BN, especially Umno.
If Umno was wiped out from the country’s political landscape, PH was confident it would rule the nation for decades to come.
Such hopeful thoughts proved to be fallacious and premature because of Umno’s resilience and due to the emergence of a new phenomenon called ‘Bossku’.
Former Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak’s roadshow as the boss for the masses really caught the public imagination, especially among Malays.
Riding on Najib’s reinvigoration and popularity, Umno steadily started to regain lost electoral grounds, winning 3 consecutive by-elections in Cameron Highlands federal constituency and state seats of Semenyih and Rantau.
Political observers claim that the Umno-PAS pact boosted by a strong tie-up with major parties from Sabah and Sarawak, could win between 145 and 170 parliamentary seats if GE15 was held tomorrow.
Umno-PAS combo will be the favourites to win seats with 70% to 75% Malay voters while having a strong fighting chance in seats with 60% to 70% Malay voters.
Umno-PAS pact could enjoy another advantage in GE15 with the introduction of the new voting age limit of 18 as a big majority of the next generation of new voters are Malays.
By 2020, Malaysia is being projected to have 2.6 million teenagers aged 15 to 19, comprising nearly 2 million Malay-Muslims, followed by some 500,000 Chinese and 170,000 Indians.
Umno-PAS appeal to Malay-Muslims because the pact talks about issues close to their hearts – Malay and Muslim rights, interests and benefits, in a cohesive united tone, something that PH can’t do.
BN has already proven to be a past master in consensus and conciliatory politics.
PH, on the other hand, has had been marred and mired by hostility and distrust among partners from the beginning.
PPBM, PKR, DAP and PAN could not agree on many things including on subjects of equality, meritocracy, the national language, Islam, vernacular schools, education, Unified Examination Certificate (UEC), and the list goes on.
Thus, Umno-PAS, or BN-PAS, is a win-win formula for all.