Managing political upheaval as nomination day approaches

Talks of in fighting from both coalitions over seat allocations and candidates line-up, something that should be addressed before it escalates to political sabotage


As the nomination day for the 14th General Election (GE14) looms nearer, speculations and rumours remain rife from both sides of the political divide on who are the best candidates to gain electorates support and form the next government.

There have been talks of infighting from both coalitions over seat allocations and candidates line-up, something that observers believe should be addressed by contesting parties before it escalates to political sabotage.

Take Wangsa Maju, for example, members of Barisan Nasional (BN) component parties — Umno and MCA — have taken to public to air their grouses on who is better suited to contest for the parliamentary seat.

Such infighting, according to political pundits, would cause a dent for BN to wrestle back the seat from the Opposition.

Opposition coalition, Pakatan Harapan, was also not spared with grumblings of discontent among supporters after news that Rina Mohd Harun from Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia was named as the candidate for the Titiwangsa parliamentary seat, sidelining their preferred choice, new-comer Wan Saiful Wan Jan.

Titiwangsa is one of the hot seats in Kuala Lumpur where incumbent Datuk Seri Johari Abdul Ghani won with a majority of 866 votes, defeating PAS candidate Ahmad Zamri Asa’ad Khuzami in the last GE13.

A political observer from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Dr Jeniri Amir, believes that while such issues are normal in every election, it is not something that should be taken for granted by any parties, especially in the era of social media.

“These issues are not new, and not exclusive to one political party. But what is new is we have the social media, where information, or misinformation spreads fast. If the parties failed to manage it quickly, rest assured it would be fodder for the opponent party within minutes,” he said when contacted yesterday.

“This is the time when voters are looking at how they resolve this matter, whether it is done tactfully or not.

“Political parties need to think on how to appease their supporters and, at the same time, to remain appealing to voters at large,” Jeniri added.

So far, Pakatan Harapan have announced their candidates in several states such as Kuala Lumpur, Kedah and Pahang ahead of the nomination day next Saturday.

Both BN and Pakatan Harapan are finalising the candidates for Selangor, Sabah and Johor, three key battle-grounds in this election.

The Election Commission has set May 9 as the polling day.

On Sunday, Pakatan Harapan announced former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad as the parliamentary candidate for Langkawi, ending weeks of speculation.

BN secretary general Datuk Seri Tengku Adnan Tengku Mansor has also reportedly said not ruling out naming the full list of the party’s candidates earlier.

“I expect it to be a week or 10 days before the nomination day,” Bernama reported Tengku Adnan as saying.

Last week, it was reported that BN chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak was still finalising the ruling coalition’s candidates.

Yesterday, BN MPs had a closed-door meeting with Najib in Putrajaya, fuelling talks that the final list is almost ready.

Najib had said in March that BN would announce the names of its candidates earlier to allow the coalition to undertake early preparations and solve possible problems in certain constituencies.

The move to name the candidates early, Jeniri said, is one way to identify, address and mitigate any arising conflict.

“I think it is necessary to name the candidates early, given the duration of the campaigning period this time around,” he said.

“It will allow time and space for political parties to tackle head-on possible discord or sabotage from within. Also, it gives an advantage for candidates to start their groundwork, especially for first-time candidates,” the political analyst said.

“If you notice, some names have been thrown out in public as possible candidates. This all serves a purpose, to gauge ground sentiment.

“Political parties with late announcements stand to lose more this time around because they will not have ample time to make adjustments accordingly,” he added.