COMMENTARY, Oct 18 — The Melaka state election scheduled for November 20 can be considered a curtain raiser for the coming general election.
The election may see Barisan Nasional (BN) contesting against PAS and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Bersatu) which will probably be working together; and Pakatan Harapan (PH). This is the likely scenario in the coming general election as well.
Muafakat Nasional (MN), which was a coalition formed by PAS and Umno, seems to no longer be a factor as PAS secretary-general Datuk Seri Takiyuddin Hassan said the party will field candidates in the Melaka election and that they may work with Bersatu.
Umno president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi also said that Umno might go it alone in Melaka.
However, the situation may still change as on the ground members of both Umno and PAS have taken to MN. If that is the case, expect Umno to form the next government and MN will be the game plan come the next general election.
While Zahid’s statement has yet to be endorsed by the party’s supreme council, PAS may decide on the matter at its annual general assembly (AGM) on November 8 in Rusila, Terengganu.
Meanwhile Bersatu wants to contest but lacks the campaign machinery, thus working with PAS is the best way forward.
PAS has no strongholds in the state, but its pockets of members and supporters can help add the number of votes to whichever party it works with.
An Umno-led BN is expected to contest all 28 state seats where 13 Malay-majority seats may see Umno facing either PAS or Bersatu while DAP will face MCA and Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) may face three-cornered fights against Umno and Bersatu, and Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah) may face PAS.
The present count is Umno-led BN has 13 seats, PH has 11 (DAP—seven, PKR – two and Amanah – two) while the other four are now considered Independents of which two were Umno, one was Bersatu and one Independent.
Issues will centre on state Umno leadership as this was what brought down the state government and the feud stemmed from former Chief Minister Datuk Seri Idris Harun being dissatisfied with then-Chief Minister Sulaiman Md Ali.
Given this scenario, the state election will determine how well Umno is accepted by the people of Melaka as there are strong whispers people on the ground want a young and vibrant state leadership.
Melaka Umno is lacking in young blood, but this state election may force the party leadership to field such candidates with the view that the next general election will see an increase in young new voters.