With PAS-DAP split, Pakatan's Putrajaya dream now laid to waste, analysts say

PAS and DAP's long-drawn dispute over key ideological differences that culminated last weekend in a split between the two will now serve to benefit BN, observers say. — Picture by Marcus Pheong
PAS and DAP's long-drawn dispute over key ideological differences that culminated last weekend in a split between the two will now serve to benefit BN, observers say. — Picture by Marcus Pheong

KUALA LUMPUR, June 11 — Without PAS and DAP in cooperation, Pakatan Rakyat (PR), once deemed the only formidable opponent able to evict Barisan Nasional (BN) from Putrajaya, could lose all the gains it made since its formation seven years ago, analysts said.

PAS and DAP's long-drawn dispute over key ideological differences that culminated last weekend in a split between the two will now serve to benefit BN, the observers said, although even the ruling pact is seen to be at its weakest today.

Merdeka Center director Ibrahim Suffian said the outcome of the 14th general election, which must be called by 2018, will now depend mostly on what PAS plans to do in the coming weeks and months — whether to stand strong with PR or stick with its decision to end all cooperation with the DAP, which may see PR’s house of cards eventually collapse.

But without PAS, Ibrahim said multi-cornered fights will be inevitable in the federal polls and this would put the fledgling opposition pact at a great disadvantage.

“The destruction of Pakatan certainly improves BN’s chances in GE14,” Ibrahim told Malay Mail Online.

“If PAS ends up as an independent non-cooperative opposition party, then it will unintentionally assist BN in winning if it starts fielding candidates in PKR seats as what happened in Kota Damansara,” the political analyst added.

BN won the Kota Damansara state seat in the 13th general election in a multi-cornered fight that was contested by both PKR and PAS.

PAS approved a motion without debate at its muktamar last week to end its relationship with the DAP but to remain in the PR opposition pact with PKR, after the DAP cut ties with the Islamist party’s president, Datuk Seri Abdul Hadi Awang, over the push to enforce hudud in Kelantan.

Independent analyst Khoo Kay Peng said it will be harder for the opposition to win the 14th general election without a united front.

“But there is still a chance for electorates to support anyone but BN if they keep creating bigger controversies,” he said.

The BN government is plagued with controversies surrounding the debt-laden 1Malaysia Development Bhd (1MDB) and former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s calls for Datuk Seri Najib Razak to step down as the head of the government.

Dr Arnold Puyok from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak predicted that BN will still retain federal power despite the anti-BN sentiment over the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and the government’s handling of 1MDB.

“Regardless of what Mahathir said, BN will still win unless there is a drastic change in the electoral system and a seismic change in East Malaysia,” Puyok told Malay Mail Online, referring to BN’s dominance in rural areas.

The political analyst also said Umno will remain non-committal about hudud, even as the BN lynchpin has yet to state its official stand on the controversial Islamic penal code.

“This is part of the strategy to win over the moderates in Umno and to maintain support among the conservatives,” said Puyok.

PKR, PAS and the DAP worked together in the 2008 general election, known as Malaysia’s political tsunami, that robbed BN of its customary two-thirds parliamentary majority, and went on to formally band together as PR in Election 2013 that wrested seven more federal seats than in 2008.