PN-PH coalition could break BN’s dominance

Even if PH moves alone, or with Muda, it is still insufficient

by FAYYADH JAAFAR / graphic by MZUKRI MOHAMAD

PERIKATAN Nasional (PN) and Pakatan Harapan (PH) may have to put aside their differences in order to gain voters’ confidence and form a government.

Dr Azmi Hassan, a senior fellow at Nusantara Academy for Strategic Research, said the Opposition has been taking advantage of Barisan Nasional’s (BN) flaws, but this could backfire on them.

“This means that they must collaborate in order to defeat BN. That is the crux. Because even if PH moves alone, even with Muda (Malaysian United Democratic Alliance), it is still insufficient.

“They require a broader organisation. Thus, PH requires PN or Bersatu (Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia) in this instance,” he said.

Azmi noted that the biggest issue for PN is its component party, PAS, that may likely leave the coalition if they collaborate. In this case, the Opposition’s situation will become even tougher.

“Politics is in constant flux. If this scenario occurs, the Muafakat Nasional may be resurrected. And if that occurs, the Opposition’s situation will become even tougher.”

According to him, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin’s move to meet other political leaders showed that he is trying to find a way out of his current predicament.

His meeting with Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, he said, reeks of desperation, considering that Parti Pejuang Tanah Air did not win a single seat in the Johor state election.

When many political parties announced their opposition to Muhyiddin as the future prime minister (PM), Azmi said it demonstrated that he was not only rejected as PM, but that the party (Bersatu) was viewed as weak by both allies and foes.

“When its top leader is rejected as an Opposition leader, it demonstrates that many believe Bersatu is incapable of making a difference in the country’s political arena.”

Strong Partner Needed

Following the Sheraton Move, Azmi said the alliance between PN and BN was made to set up the federal government and it would automatically dissolve upon the next general election (GE).

“Therefore, it is necessary for PN to form a coalition with another party to contest against BN. In this instance, PH can provide value to PN.

“If you look at the Johor and Melaka state elections, not only did they lose seats, but the votes they gained were insufficient to qualify them as the Opposition if they wished to go alone. However, I’m sure Bersatu aspires to be the government, whether it’s state or federal government.

“As a result, they require a strong partner capable of adding value. In this instance, PH can provide value to PN. However, the issue is whether PH is capable of accepting PN,” he explained.

Professor James Chin, Asian Studies professor at the University of Tasmania, said that PN is in dire straits and that they need a strong partner in order to have a chance of winning against BN.

“The problem with PN is that not only did they just lose, but they lost heavily. So many people think they’re not going to survive the next GE.

“The other problem with fighting the next GE is that they have limited resources because they’ve lost a couple of state governments,” he said.

Chin also touched on the shaky alliance between PN and BN as each coalition is working towards defeating the other.

“There was no doubt that they were a coalition in name only. Umno is working to kill off Bersatu and vice versa. There is no way they can work together after GE15 (15th General Election).

“It will either be Bersatu in power or Umno in power. It is not possible for them to come back to the sort of government we have now.”

Emerging PAS

For PAS, which has a strong base of support in the four northern Malay states, Chin predicts that it will keep growing its influence there. “So, in some ways, PAS is emerging as the strongest in PN.”

He said PAS is not a wild card, but rather a “very strong” player”, adding that the party has its own strength with loyal members and credible election machinery.

“Therefore, this is why (Parti) Amanah (Negara) has never done well against PAS. PAS is actually not weak.”

However, he noted that PAS’ greatest weakness is its inability to break out of the four Northern Malay states.

“So as long as you can’t break out and become a nation by organisation, you have no chance of forming a government; you will have to join somebody else.”

Professor James also touched on the potential for Pejuang to form a coalition with PH.

“This may sound crazy because Dr Mahathir caused the downfall of PH. But in politics, everything is possible.”

Prof Dr Kartini Aboo Talib @ Khalid, the deputy director of the Institute of Ethnic Studies at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, echoes Azmi’s sentiments about the Umno-BN-PAS relationship.

“PN consists of former Umno members and former PKR members; thus, they face a complex challenge to convince voters that they are not the ‘frogs’ (party hoppers) who care about their self-interest, but for the greater good.

“The future is bleak unless they can strategise themselves to work with the strong party to form a coalition. In Malaysia, no political party can fly solo without sharing power.”