KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 — Political observers believe Perikatan Nasional (PN) is currently trailing behind its political rivals, namely Barisan Nasional (BN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH), in terms of its chances to win the next general election (GE15).
Responding to the outcome of the PN convention yesterday, all four pundits contacted by Malay Mail agreed that apart from Tun Dr Mahathir Mohammad’s Gerakan Tanah Air (GTA), Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is the weakest coalition compared to PH and BN.
Azmi Hassan, a senior fellow at Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research said that the uncertainties that loom over the future of PN could be a worrying problem for the coalition going into GE15.
Compared to the recent PKR convention and Umno’s narrative of pushing for early GE15, he said that PN’s inaugural convention yesterday showed that its rivals are way more focused on conquering Putrajaya again.
“It is indeed a tame affair as far as GE15 is concerned, this is a worrying trend for PN because by this time, they should have their own strategy to prepare their members to be ready for the next general election,” he said.
Echoing Azmi, University of Malaya socio-political analyst Awang Azman Pawi said that PN currently only relies on PAS’ grassroots strength in the context of the Peninsula, which holds much less impact, especially in the urban areas.
He said that PH, with the likes of the newly minted PKR deputy president Rafizi Ramli exposing BN’s leader’s involvement in the littoral combat ships (LCS) scandal, has at least boosted their cyber war campaign and is currently back to being a force to be reckoned with and can beat PN as the main alternative side.
“PN, as a coalition, is facing difficulties to stand on its own, and will be a better alternative to BN than PH because Rafizi’s reappearance at this time has a big impact when PH’s political campaign starts.
“This is because the roots of PN depend on PAS alone. Even Muhyiddin’s Pagoh area is not guaranteed to be won by Muhyiddin,” he said referring to the PN chairman’s parliamentary seat.
However, despite no clear path set after the PN convention, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia political analyst Kartini Aboo Talib said that the coalition is just being flexible for opening the door to other political parties.
She said that to be willing to work with a “clean-changed” Umno means PN wants to distance themselves from the kleptocracy label.
“Muhyiddin is a mature politician. As Bersatu president, he knows the lesson from both state elections in Melaka and Johor and will now look for a robust and reliable partner other than PAS.
“PN (Bersatu and PAS) was poor in both state elections despite ongoing court cluster issues in Umno,” she said.
She also commented on the party’s disunity when it comes to forming alliances and the logo as it shows that the different ideologies within the coalition are almost like a time bomb.
“Disunity means Bersatu and PAS will not last long as a party coalition. Perhaps, with the current development, they can negotiate and strengthen their position as PN.
“The date for GE15 is still speculation until the Parliament is dissolved officially. So the room for negotiation is still open and possible,” she added.
She was referring to a few PAS speakers, including the Islamist party’s youth chief Ahmad Fadhli Shaari, who during the convention openly said that the coalition needs to consider working with Umno again.
Commenting on forming alliances, Universiti Malaysia Sabah Lee Kuok Tiung said PN has to strategise properly and take matters like locality into account.
“We must understand they should team up with other teams or alliances. Don’t put all the eggs in one basket. For example in the Sabah context, it’s better for GRS to team up with BN to win 15-16 seats out of the 25 seats.
“Any calculations must be realistic. Always remember in politics you’ll have bargaining power only if you have seats (assemblyman or MP),” he said in reference to Gabungan Rakyat Sabah.
Yesterday, the five-party PN coalition marked its second anniversary.
Some 1,300 delegates from Bersatu, PAS, Gerakan and Sabah-based entities SAPP and Star gathered at Malaysian Agro Exposition Park Serdang (MAEPS) for what could be the coalition’s last major bash before GE15 is called.