KUALA LUMPUR, August 11 — With the Sabah state election looming and the possibility of a snap election, Barisan Nasional (BN) has set its sight to ensure there will not be three-cornered fights in the coming election within the loose Perikatan Nasional (PN) coalition.
In recent days, Umno Youth chief Datuk Asyraf Wajdi Dusuki said he wanted its PN partners PAS and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) to run under the BN banner in the next general election, lest a repeat of the 2018 general elections results.
The proposed move, according to Asyraf Wajdi, was to put a unified front and straight fights in all the federal and state seats to ensure a greater chance of victory.
This apparent proposal is seen as a means for PN to remain politically relevant by avoiding straight fights with their political allies but may also potentially portray component parties such as PAS and Bersatu as ‘lesser members’, analysts have suggested.
For Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) geostrategist Azmi Hassan, he said it does not add any value for these parties to employ a common symbol such as BN’s iconic white scales symbol despite having their own distinct meaning to their own respective supporters.
“In fact, agreeing to run under the BN banner in the next general election may portray PAS and Bersatu as the lesser members in PN,” he said.
He said Asyraf Wajdi’s suggestion was redundant as each party is well recognised for their own symbols as demonstrated via by-elections where the Umno-PAS’ Muafakat Nasional (MN) pact had participated.
Last month, Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi announced that his party will not join the PN coalition that controls the federal government but will instead focus on developing the MN partnership.
“It seemed odd that with BN not being a part of PN, then how come BN will be used as the symbol come GE15.
“It may be that Asyraf is in the opinion that the BN symbol is something that are well received by the voters as demonstrated by recent by-elections, so it’s natural that the symbol is used,” he said, drawing similar comparison with PKR’s symbol being used by the Pakatan Harapan coalition in the previous general election.
For Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Prof Kartini Aboo Talib Khalid, she said Asyraf’s proposal was nothing new in the country’s political landscape and would be advantageous to an extent.
“If you recall, Pakatan’s strategy in the 14th general election in 2018 which brought them victory was to contest under one flag, using PKR’s banner.
“So if Umno and PAS are attempting to imitate this strategy, it could be the X-factor for other small parties inside PN to take advantage of,” she said.
However, Kartini said if PAS and Bersatu allow factionalism to supersede the idea of alliances and shared victory, then using the BN logo could instead be viewed as discouraging.
“It will be seen as a struggle of power, but for what? This is the demand that requires every party to put aside its differences.
“If they can overcome this and work toward their mutual interests, then they have a strong competitive edge in the next general election,” she said.
Singapore Institute of International Studies’ Oh Ei Sun echoed Kartini’s sentiments, saying that Asyraf’s arguments for PAS and Bersatu to use the BN logo in the 15th general election are the positive aspects.
“However the main concern of PAS and Bersatu is the perception by their erstwhile traditional supporters to be subsumed under Umno’s leadership.
“This in turn would be interpreted as their respective distinct political images becoming affected,” he said.
Oh added that this is particularly important, as Umno is viewed as having been extremely pushy in attempting to assume supremacy in the ruling coalition.
“As I see it, it is a matter of PAS and Bersatu balancing between maintaining their alliance with Umno, while making sure they are not perceived as being subordinate to it.
“Should they manage to do so, it would make the parties a difficult triad (group of three) to politically contend against. Umno has the money and the machinery, PAS has the religious zealousness, and Bersatu the incumbency of the premiership,” he said.