An analyst says Pakatan Harapan will have its hands full trying to retain its conventional base of supporters at the next general election.
Oh Ei Sun, a senior fellow at the Singapore Institute of International Affairs, said PH will be busy putting out fires in order to retain the votes of their supporters, some among them having grown disillusioned with the former government coalition.
PH should not fantasise about winning over conservative Malay voters, he said. At the 2018 general election, Umno and PAS accounted for more than 75% of Malay votes, but a split in votes between the two parties led to Pakatan Harapan’s victory.
“Umno and PAS both deployed many candidates in the same constituencies, but they altogether garnered more than 75% of Malay votes,” he told FMT.
Going into the next general election, there is less of a buzz of support for PH, he said, attributing it to a sense of futility among supporters from having seen elected representatives defecting to form “backdoor governments”.
Oh said there was an increasingly clear realisation that it would be nearly impossible for PH to win with an outright majority at the next general election, as the ruling Malay-centric parties come together as an electoral front.
“Fresh leadership may do some good in retaining some of PH’s conventional supporters who are disgusted by their previously elected traitors and the grandiose but empty promises made, by Anwar (Ibrahim) especially.
“But such new leadership would still have little appeal for the overwhelming majority of conservative voters who evidently still prefer the traditional distribution of handouts in exchange for votes.”
He also dismissed PKR secretary-general Saifuddin Nasution Ismail’s insistence that opposition leader Anwar could still produce the numbers to take back Putrajaya, saying this can only be done through “very attractive offers”.
“If they still intend to flip the Umno MPs, then very attractive offers ranging from immunities to positions of power must be expeditiously made. Else it’s back to licking PH’s own wounds,” he said.
Amanah president Mohamad Sabu had acknowledged that the opposition faced an uphill task to garner voters’ support at the next general election, saying some had given up on voting for their elected representatives.
But Saifuddin maintained that Anwar still had the numbers to change the government, saying this could be done either through statutory declarations or in the Dewan Rakyat.
Another analyst, Awang Azman Pawi of Universiti Malaya, said PKR had best close ranks and strengthen grassroot support to do its best at the next elections.
He told FMT that every general election had its key battleground issues, with the legitimacy of the current government a key matter that will be brought up.
“There are also issues over Covid-19’s impact on education and about managing the economy during this pandemic, including issues like the loan moratorium, lack of job opportunities, unemployment and businesses closing shop.
“So PH has more real issues to mount their election campaign on and not just the perception of regaining the people’s support, especially with various parts of the community reeling from the economic and social effects of the pandemic,” he said. FMT