KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 9 — The use of two logos by Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the Johor state election could be to gauge which would be more effective in the 15th general election, academics said.

They believed the coalition and its parties could be using the state election as a proving ground for strategies that could be deployed in the national elections.

According to Associate Prof Awang Azman Awang Pawi of Universiti Malaya (UM), the outcome of the Johor state election would also not affect the contest for the general election.

“This will also be an experiment to determine which logo is more relevant and most accepted by voters based on the results of the Johor state polls, and whichever logo has the most influence and support, it is expected to be used for GE15,” he told Malay Mail when contacted.

Awang Azman was commenting on the PH’s announcement that it would contest in the Johor state polls using two separate logos, with PKR to use its party logo while DAP and Amanah will use the PH logo.

He said the use of the PH logo could also be related to future negotiations with other Opposition parties such as the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance (Muda), Parti Warisan, and Parti Pejuang Tanah Air (Pejuang).

Should they agree to cooperate, Awang Azman said the PH logo could be used by all.

Mazlan Ali, a senior lecturer at Perdana Centre with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia, said PKR’s decision to use its own logo was tactical.

“PKR has decided to go with the PKR logo as the logo has long been used there and it stands out more than other party logos (within the coalition).

“At the same time, their supporters are familiar with it as it is an established logo.

“There are views that using the PH logo is confusing, but it is a very insignificant number,” Mazlan said when contacted.

Mazlan, who has been studying local sentiments, added that another reason for PKR’s decision to use its own party logo could be due to pressure from the grassroots.

“All three parties (DAP, Amanah and PKR) are actually very comfortable using the PH logo, but in this context, it is likely due to pressure from the grassroots that is a push factor for PKR to use its own logo,” he said.

Moreover, he said a party’s logo no longer played a strong role in influencing voters as they are more concerned with which party would be able to establish a stable government.

He also said the separate logos did not reflect disunity among PH parties.

“The people today want to see who can establish a stable government.

“Just like in Sarawak (state polls), why did GPS win so comfortably? It is because they portray unity and there were no differences  visible among the parties which form the coalition.

“This convinced the people that they are able to form a stable government,” he said.

He also agreed that PH’s decision could be its way of testing which logo was better received by the voters, citing the Melaka state polls which concluded recently was not sufficient to create a benchmark.

In the Melaka state polls, PH contested using the coalition logo.

“There were debates about the logo during the Melaka state polls, and some have blamed that the PH logo was one of the Opposition coalition’s downfall in the state election.

“But the Melaka state polls isn’t enough to be a benchmark of which logo is more effective as there were many other factors more major which caused their defeat and one of them was low voter turnout.

“The turnout of Chinese voters was only 55 per cent and these are the voters which brought PH’s victory during the GE14, while outstation voters reflected their loss of interest in politics,” said Mazlan.  

He added that PH did not lose severely, as the seats which they lost were just by slim majority.

“DAP still managed to secure their seats as they were all Chinese majority constituencies, but PKR lost as some of the voters were Bersatu supporters during GE14 (Bersatu is no longer part of PH).

“Umno’s voters did not increase,” he said.

A premature state election was triggered in Johor last week after caretaker Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Hasni Mohammad from Umno sought the dissolution of the state assembly despite still holding a one-seat majority.

The Election Commission is scheduled to meet today to decide the nomination and polling dates for Johor.