Report: Survey shows Pakatan has to ease stance on ‘liberal issues’, Malay support still split

People line up to vote during the general election in Kuala Lumpur May 9, 2018. — Reuters pic
People line up to vote during the general election in Kuala Lumpur May 9, 2018. — Reuters pic

KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 — The Pakatan Harapan (PH) government has to tread carefully in the next five years, as a push towards more liberal policies could see them lose the already split bulk of Malay votes, according to a report in Singapore’s Straits Times (ST).

The report, citing figures from polling centre Merdeka Center, showed an obvious three-way split between the Malay votes in the country, where 30-33 per cent voted for PAS, 35-40 per cent backed Barisan Nasional (BN) and the remaining 25-30 per cent opted for PH.

The report quoted Merdeka Center’s research manager, Tan Seng Keat, who said while many did not favour the Goods and Services Tax (GST) and former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak, a significant proportion were still not fully onboard with PH.

He said this was due to a number of Malay voters believing PH was being controlled by DAP, a party where many of its members are Chinese.

“Propaganda indoctrination over all these years cannot change in just a few days of campaigning even with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad there.

“For them, Umno is a Malay party, a Muslim party, they feel safe,” Tan was quoted as saying in ST.

The report goes on to state that as PH tries to navigate cultural sensitivities, Umno and PAS will step in and try to woo back the community with race and religion.

This was evident in the backlash seen when Tommy Thomas was appointed as the Attorney General, and when DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng was made finance minister.

The report detailed how a majority of the Malay community were unhappy with the supposed animosity shown towards the Yang di-Pertuan Agong and the Malay Rulers by the public, which stemmed from apparent delays in the swearing in of and consent over government appointments, and the leak of the Agong’s supposed RM257 million expenditure bill.

Also quoted in the report was Amir Fareed Rahim, analyst at KRA Group political consultancy, who warned that should PH continue to push through what is seen as a ‘liberal’ agenda, such as demonising royals, and if Umno has not rebuilt itself in five years, the Malays will go with PAS.