The writing’s on the wall already. GE15 will see a head on collision between Barisan Nasional on one side and the Opposition on the other, with a sprinkling of independents in between just to spoil the votes.
There have been lots of hints of a grand coalition between Perikatan Nasional (comprising Bersatu, PAS, GERAKAN), Pakatan Harapan (comprising PKR, DAP, Amanah, Warisan), PEJUANG, MUDA and a couple of new parties being established as we speak. All ready to take the bull by the horns for GE15.
Barisan Nasional (comprising UMNO, MCA, MIC, and perhaps GPRS) is expected to go solo looking at their strong credentials during the recent by-elections and State Polls which they have won handsomely with strong majorities and popular votes. Other BN loyalist parties like Makkal Sakhti and Parti Cinta Malaysia are hoping to earn a seat or two to fill the gaps from Gerakan and other groups that were part of the coalition before. However, this may or may not happen as component parties like MCA and MIC may put up a strong protest with the view that they have been gaining strength via their victories and support in the said by-elections and State polls as compared to the bashing that they received during GE14. But both MCA and MIC have to accept the reality that they are still suffering a trust deficit, at least where Chinese and Indian voters are concerned.
The Kingmaker For GE15
The kingmaker this time will be Sarawak’s GPS who are expected to have a friendly get-together with BN, but things may change anytime and they might also go solo now that their Chief Minister is officially called the Prime Minister, reflecting their push towards autonomy. However, the latter is most unlikely to happen before GE15 as they need stronger representation in Parliament for the moment. But should BN fail badly in GE15, then the likelihood that the push towards autonomy may become stronger and a reality now that neighbouring Indonesia has moved its capital to Kalimantan in Borneo.
From the three-day UMNO General Assembly sessions, it is apparent that Malaysia’s biggest political party in terms of parliamentary seats (this was the status after GE14, but later some of its MPs jumped to Bersatu, making them lose out to DAP in terms of number of MPs) and grassroot members, is pushing for Parliament to be dissolved and elections to be held this year, a year ahead of the final term of this current government which is a strange mishmash of Cabinet members from different political affiliations.
The Prime Minister is from BN, and, together with a few other senior ministers from BN, are friendly and almost subservient towards other MPs from PN. And word among political circles is going around that 10 MPs from Bersatu are most likely to withdraw from the party to either set up their own party or to have a strange partnership with another party? Will BN, for instance accept the likes of Azmin Ali and Hamzah Zainuddin, for instance? We doubt it, but stranger things have happened and politics is so fluid.
As for the Opposition bloc, the mishmash is even more profound. Mahathir has been quoted as saying that his PEJUANG party has not disregarded the possibility that a strong coalition will happen among Opposition parties in order to trash BN, just as they did in PRU14.
“Mahathir must remember, however, that he is no longer the poster boy for the Opposition as he was in GE14. At that time, everyone of the Opposition parties looked up to him to deliver Putrajaya, which he did. But today, however, his popular rating, even among the Opposition groups, is at an all-time low,” said a political observer who spoke on condition of anonymity.
This professor added that if you were to compare Mahathir’s rating with that of former premier Najib Razak now, it is like a 360 deg turnaround.
“Will Mahathir/Pejuang be able to convince the other parties in the Opposition bloc to work together this time? And what new issues will they bring up to convince the voters now? For pre-GE14 they were marketing 1MDB, corruption, integrity, playing the race cards to death. What is the platform they are going to use now?
“Will he work with Anwar again? Not to mention Muhyiddin, PAS, DAP – will they work with him? And will they want to work with Anwar now? These are strange bedfellows, but for the purposes of claiming Putrajaya once again, there is a possibility that certain kind of arrangements may take place.”
He added that voters have hopefully learnt their lesson from backing any unholy alliance that can only bring about disaster as we have seen from the time the PH government took over in May 2018 to the time that Mahathir resigned in Feb 2020, bringing down the gov’t then to make way for PN.
Cover All Angles
“While BN is gaining strength, mostly due to great strategies by Najib and the BN leaders, they must also look to cover all angles: Voters are fed up, low turnout of voters in the recent Johor Polls is an indication of protest votes. BN cannot depend on the Chinese votes as they will go back to DAP if the Opposition get together once again.
“Issues should no longer be race-based. The youths are party-less right now. They want to vote on what’s in store for them, who can bring about a better future for them. They are tired of politicking over good governance,” he pointed out.
A political observer and social activist, lawyer Kamarudin Ahmad, agrees that it will be an uphill battle for BN in the coming GE15. However, its impressive track record will give BN an advantage over the opposition coalition.
Kamarudin Ahmad: An uphill battle for BN, but they have got the track record to show for it … We need a strong gov’t for stability and economic growth
“GE15 will likely see a clash of the Titans between BN and the opposition party PH (if they are going under that banner again). It’s likely that BERSATU, PAS, MUDA, WARISAN and PEJUANG will join the opposition bandwagon,” he added.
“Although GE15 will be an uphill battle for BN facing such a formidable coalition, they will however have the following advantages:
1.Disappointment of the voters with the failure of PH-led government. GE14 manifesto was not fulfilled. The economic situation got worst under the PH government. The internal bickering in PH finally led to the downfall of the gov’t;
2.The success of BN in seven previous by-elections is an indicator of the change in the voters’ mood. A clear change in voters sentiment happened during the Melaka State Election where UMNO/BN candidates won big. And the tremendous victory in the recent Johor State Election signify a swing of the voters for BN.
3.The failure of PN to perform as a coalition of the major parties UMNO, BERSATU, PAS sends a clear signal that the country needs a strong government for social stability and economic growth. BN has the track records to provide the much-needed stability;
4. Perikatan Nasional under Mahyuddin (Muhyiddin) failed as a government with poor management of the Covid-19 pandemic. The proclamation of Emergency was the final straw that led to the downfall of PN gov’t. The resignation of Mahyuddin did not lead to a change in the government when Ismail Sabri, the new PM, retained almost all cabinet ministers appointed by Mahyuddin. This situation ruffled UMNO leaders with calls for Parliament to be dissolved from all quarters during the UMNO convention,” Kamarudin added.
Now the ball is in PM Ismail’s court. If he calls for election now, he can ensure that BN will have stronger chances to redeem their loss in GE14. To wait another six months, maybe longer, will be a possible death knell for BN as the Opposition will get their act together once again and possibly be able to convince the voters that they are God’s gift to the country’s current woes, despite showing a poor outing the last time.
As another person just said: With Rafizi Ramli back in PKR and active politics, one can now expect more lies to surface. After all there was video proof of his claim that “kerja kita hanya untuk memfitnah” (our job is only to slander), which they did exceedingly well pre-GE14, and the rest, they say is history. – New Malaysia Herald
Datin Hasnah is the co-founder and CEO of New Malaysia Herald based in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
With an extensive background in mass communication and journalism, she works on building up New Malaysia Herald and it’s partner sites. A tireless and passionate evangalist, she champions autism studies and support groups.
Datin Hasnah is also the Editor in Chief of New Malaysia Herald.