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BN or PH for Selangor?

  • PAS will only outright show its pro-Umno stand as soon as GE14 is over, provided that it wins big in Selangor.

By Associate Professor Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi

BN only won 12 out of the 56 state assembly seats in Selangor through Umno in GE13, managing only 39% of popular votes while then Pakatan Rakyat garnered almost 60%.

MCA and MIC failed to win any seat in the state.

DAP and PKR won 15 seats each but after Khalid Ibrahim left his party, PKR has been left with only 14.

Meanwhile, PAS also won 15 state seats in Selangor, allowing Pakatan Rakyat to form the state government.

PAS nevertheless left following the internal conflicts within the pact, while the dissident in the party came together to form the splinter unit Amanah.

The Islamic party left Pakatan after a squabble with DAP, meaning it will now pose a threat to Pakatan Harapan in the state. Only two of the original PAS assemblymen have joined Amanah while the remaining 12 are still with PAS.

Now the question: Will BN be able to wrestle back the state administration from Pakatan Harapan?

To form a strong government, any coalition will have to win at least 37 state seats for a comfortable two-thirds majority advantage, while a simple majority will require at least 28.

If BN and PAS win 15 seats each, it will be enough for them to form a coalition government in Selangor.

PAS' strength lies with its solid election machinery and grassroots with experiences in political mobilization and campaigning on voluntary basis.

The same goes for Umno and BN. Umno may win the 12 seats they are currently holding plus three additional seats they lost in the last election by a thin majority or in mixed constituencies with a significant Malay voter population such as Gombak Setia, Kajang and Seri Andalas.

PAS' reliance on Pakatan could be easily seen from the fact the number of seats they won increased more than twice from six in 2008 to 15 in 2013.

If PAS were to clash with Amanah in the coming general election, it is anticipated that they will lose between 20% and 30% of votes. In constituencies they won with thin majority in 2013, they might go to Umno instead this time.

Because of this, PKR is trying not to give Amanah a chance to contest in Selangor because the more seats Amanah runs, the more votes will go to Umno.

One of BN's formulas of success is through the redelineation of constituencies and voter mobilization, including moving Malay voters from black areas to grey areas in hope of winning those seats. Such mobilization of voters from unsafe to safer constituencies will ensure BN's triumph.

It is said that Kuala Kubu Bharu has seen a 26% increase in voter population while voters in Batang Kali are said to have been moved to Kuala Kubu Bharu. Such mobilization happens outside the knowledge of the voters involved.

Meanwhile, Bukit Antarabangsa may also fall as a result of redelineation.

PH's strength lies with the vast experiences of PKR and DAP. PKR has leapt into the phase of maturity since the party first formed the Selangor state government in 2008.

Political mobilization has been going on more systematically even though the party lacks the devotion of PAS grassroots.

Azmin Ali's administration is still popular and widely received by the voters in the state. Many of the state's policies are seen as having brought well-being to the people in Selangor, including many initiatives to help the targeted groups.

When Putrajaya handed out RM1,500 twice a year to civil servants, the Selangor state government offered three months of bonus.

Selangor is now the largest contributor to the country's economy at more than 20% of national total. Consequently, the voters should be able to evaluate in a more rational manner the advantages of a government under Pakatan Harapan.

DAP, meanwhile, is overwhelmingly supported by Chinese voters in the state, thanks to a powerful anti-MCA sentiment. Even though MCA boasts a much larger membership, many support DAP without having to become party members. As if that is not enough, the party also has a team of volunteers ready to help.

The trend to reject MCA is expected to remain strong this time round, and only fewer than 13% of Chinese voters are expected to vote for BN. Both MCA's president and deputy president have relied on large Malay voter population to win the election.

Chinese voters will also likely take out PAS in 13 constituencies with about 30% of Chinese voters. Between 25% and 30% of voters' strong support for PKR, PPBM and Amanah will ensure PH's victory in these constituencies.

But, Umno will not let this happen.

When PH raises the issue of inflation and GST, BN will exploit the recent hike in GST rate in neighboring Singapore.

Racial and religious issues will continue to be manipulated by BN to woo conservative and undecided voters in Selangor.

DAP's focus will be in Taman Templer, Lembah Jaya, Paya Jeras, Sri Serdangm Meru, Cempaka, Dusun Tua and Tanjung Sepat where the strength of Umno and PAS are almost equal, and PKR, Amanah and PPBM will have to help rally the Malay voters behind DAP.

Meanwhile, Umno and PAS will clash with DAP in three-cornered fights where the chances of winning will depend on a number of factors such as the area, voter sentiment and the candidate fielded.

There have been strong rumors some of the PAS elected reps in the state may jump ship, which the party itself has refuted. Sure enough PAS will not want this to happen before the election. As such, the party leadership is expected to offer attractive deals to retain the reps, as any crossover in the run-up to the election is not going to be good for the party.

In the meantime, PAS is also aggressively building up its influences by mobilizing its election machinery and grassroots. Even though PAS is reluctant to seal an official cooperation with Umno despite a strong tendency for PAS to form a coalition government with Umno in Selangor and Kelantan post-GE14 because it cannot rule alone without Umno.

PAS is unlikely to seal an official tie-up with Umno before the election to avoid suspicion by their conservative members. This will invariably thin down their support.

Therefore, PAS will only outright show its pro-Umno stand as soon as GE14 is over, provided it wins big in Selangor.

Both BN and PH have equal chances to win in Selangor although PH has an edge being the incumbent state government, hence better access to the resources.

As for BN, they will need to mobilize federal resources not only in the form of cash handouts but also the redelineation exercise, ethnic sentiment and religious issues to win the election. Moreover, this will also depend on the voter inclination which will only be known after the state legislative assembly is dissolved.

(Associate Professor Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi is currently serving at the Department Of Socioculture, Academy Of Malay Studies, Universiti Malaya.)


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