KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 3 — Gerakan must prove it can win over non-Malay voters in the upcoming state elections.

Failing to do so, the party does not have much worth to its coalition Perikatan Nasional (PN), several political analysts told Malay Mail.

However, even if Gerakan does not perform well, they would most likely still be welcomed by PN as a coalition partner as the latter needs them to keep up appearances that PAS are friendly with all races.

“Realistically, Gerakan couldn’t be said to represent non-Malays if it doesn’t deliver. Non-Malays supporting PN do so because they are happy to be led by the Malay-led political establishment, for example those in Dewan Himpunan Pendokong PAS (DHPP), and/or because they are disillusioned with Pakatan Harapan (PH) whom they see as having reneged on promises,” said Universiti Sains Malaysia’s political science professor Ahmad Fauzi Abdul Hamid.

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“So these non-Malays will vote for PN come what may, regardless of whether PN fields PAS, Bersatu or Gerakan candidates. If Gerakan adds any value to PN votes by raising non-Malay support beyond the said cohorts, it’ll have to prove that by winning a good number of seats in the state elections.”

Gerakan will be contesting 36 seats in four states, comprising 19 seats in Penang, eight in Selangor, six in Negeri Sembilan and three in Kedah. The party did not win a single seat at the 15th general election (GE15) in which it contested as a component of PN.

Many of its members were split whether to stay or leave PN after the state elections.

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Among them were Federal Territories Gerakan chief Datuk Lau Hoi Keong. Hoi Keong said he only temporarily backs the idea for Gerakan to be in PN alongside Bersatu and PAS, which is the stance of incumbent president Datuk Dominic Lau.

Gerakan president Datuk Dominic Lau (2nd left) together with Datuk Micheal Gan Peng Lam (right), Liang Teck Meng (2nd right) and Datuk Loi Hoi Keong (left) after submitting a nomination form for the party’s candidate selection in Kuala Lumpur, July 8, 2023. — Picture by Miera Zulyana
Gerakan president Datuk Dominic Lau (2nd left) together with Datuk Micheal Gan Peng Lam (right), Liang Teck Meng (2nd right) and Datuk Loi Hoi Keong (left) after submitting a nomination form for the party’s candidate selection in Kuala Lumpur, July 8, 2023. — Picture by Miera Zulyana

Lau has also irked the ire of PAS by deciding to contest the Bayan Lepas seat in Penang. Lau was accused of using back door channels to be nominated for the seat, a claim he has denied.

Lau will be going up against incumbent Bayan Lepas assemblyman Azrul Mahathir Aziz from Amanah in the state polls.

Despite all that, associate professor at the School of Social Sciences in Universiti Sains Malaysia, Penang Azmil Tayeb said Gerakan will still be in PN after the state elections because PN need them to look like they are a party that’s inclusive of all races.

He said Gerakan was a token party of PN and is there to show PN are friendly with other races and not just Malay-Muslims.

“I highly doubt they can sway non-Malay votes to PN. Non-Malays are solidly with PH and there are no signs some of them will switch their votes to PN. Apart from that, Gerakan is a token party within PN.

“It’s there just to show PN is not completely a Malay-Islamic coalition. Even if Gerakan doesn’t win any seat as projected, it will still remain in PN simply because it has nowhere else to go,” he said when contacted.

As for Singapore Institute of International Affairs senior fellow Oh Ei Sun, he said Gerakan’s assets would be attractive to PN now that some of their accounts were frozen by the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) pending investigations into its chairman and former prime minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin.

PN chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang and Gerakan president Datuk Dominic Lau during a press conference at Perikatan Nasional headquarters in Publika, June 22, 2023. — Picture by Hari Anggara
PN chairman Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, PAS president Tan Sri Abdul Hadi Awang and Gerakan president Datuk Dominic Lau during a press conference at Perikatan Nasional headquarters in Publika, June 22, 2023. — Picture by Hari Anggara

He also said that PN needs Gerakan as a tool to make them seem not so Malay-Muslim centric. Oh however, stopped short of predicting Gerakan would be able to convince non-Malays to support PN.

“As long as the abundant party assets are still intact it would have its tremendous attraction,” Oh told Malay Mail.

“In any case, PN needs a non-Malay decorative political apparatus, so Gerakan still has its place in PN.”

When asked if PN could be tempted to ignore the party at future elections if they failed to win any seats Oh said: “Sure, they don’t need to give Gerakan any seat to run. Just appoint one or more Gerakan senators and make them very junior ministers or deputy ministers.”

On March 10, Muhyiddin was charged at the Sessions Court here with four counts of corruption to solicit bribes amounting to RM232.5 million and two counts of money laundering involving RM195 million.

On March 13, he was charged at the Shah Alam Sessions Court with one count of receiving RM5 million in proceeds from unlawful activities.

Bersatu has challenged the MACC’s decision to freeze its bank accounts for investigation purposes but the Attorney General (AG) has objected to the application for leave.

In April, Senior Federal Counsel Shamsul Bolhassan, on behalf of the AG, told the High Court that this was because the issuance of the freezing order was not amenable to judicial review.

Gerakan are sitting out the Kelantan and Terengganu state elections set to take place on August 12 with early voting on August 8.