PETALING JAYA, April 10 — The Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad-led Opposition pact has come together to contest under Parti Keadilan Rakyat's (PKR) logo, a move that some say is being used to hide the dominance of Chinese-based DAP in the loose coalition.
Meanwhile, DAP is leading the assault on Johor by banking on the Chinese voters’ anti-government sentiment which the party took advantage of successfully in the 2008 and 2013 general elections.
It will continue to do the same this general election but without the party's logo — the rocket.
Whether this will dilute support for the party and affect DAP's performance in the polls is up for debate. Older voters may think party leaders have compromised on their principles and are playing to the gallery to attract Malay voters just to take Johor.
However, older voters are no longer that important as both sides of the political divide are courting women and younger voters who account for more than half of the 11 million-plus voters in the country.
But DAP is dead set on stealing the Chinese votes in Johor while its partners Parti Amanah Negara (Amanah), PKR and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia (Pribumi) go after the Malay votes. In this way, they hope to pull the carpet from under BN and Umno in this die-hard Malay heartland of Umno.
Whether the latter is possible is still a question mark as the war between the Malay parties in the state is expected to be fierce with even the Tengku Mahkota Johor weighing in with his opinion.
Besides Johor, the pact is also attacking Perak which it once held but lost due to defections in 2009; Pakatan Harapan feels it has a good chance of wresting it back from BN in the coming general election although it failed in 2013.
Kedah is expected to see another fierce battle with the Dr Mahathir-led Pribumi leading the charge. The objective is to take back the Malay heartland which they claim BN took "by force" from Datuk Seri Mukhriz Mahathir.
Even though Mukhriz was not popular when he was the mentri besar there, the fact that Dr Mahathir is contesting Langkawi has made the voters in the state pretty excited.
And the use of the PKR logo — with no rocket in sight — will make them feel, rightly or wrongly, that Dr Mahathir is in charge of the pact.
PAS is not expected to be a threat even in three-cornered fights in Malay constituencies as it is no longer considered relevant in the current political landscape where the narrative is focused on personalities and the economy.
With religious issues pushed to the back burner, PAS’ aim to become a third force and kingmaker looks pretty insignificant.
PAS is expected to retain Kelantan and may not even get to give BN a fierce fight given its weakened position, as the recently dissolved parliament did not debate its RUU355.