Expect tense political atmosphere post-GE15

Big win for PN is due to the Malay sentiment that was pervasive in GE15 


MALAYSIA’S political scene is expected to be very tense in the next few days following the hung Parliament outcome of the 15th General Election (GE15). 

During Saturday’s polls, it saw some fierce competition between Pakatan Harapan (PH) and Perikatan Nasional (PN), with PH eventually emerging as the coalition bloc or parties with the highest number of parliamentary seats at 82 seats (including one from the Malaysian United Democratic Alliance and five from Sarawak DAP), beating out its closest rival PN who managed to secure 73 seats. Barisan Nasional (BN) came in third with 30 parliamentary seats. 

Commenting on BN’s huge loss in GE15, an analyst claims the devastating defeat was due to internal problems between its candidates (pic: Bernama)

As no single coalition managed to secure the minimum 112 majority seats in the Dewan Rakyat, they will now need to negotiate with potential partners to form a multi-coalition government. 

According to a seasoned political analyst, PN is riding on the Malay tsunami and the frustrations of the community over inactions and failed policies to address their needs. 

“However, PN cannot form a government on its own, even with the help of Gabungan Parti Sarawak (GPS),” the analyst who wished to be anonymous told The Concurring with the statement, economist Dr Nungsari Ahmad Radhi said he too had expected that the Malay will swing away from Umno, however, not to the extent that it all went to PAS resulting in the party under the PN coalition won 49 seats in GE15 compared to the 18 seats the party had previously won in GE14. 

“The Malays who are largely marginalised economically because of past policies have been fed with Malay-Islamic political fodder and similar public institutions from schools to government bodies. 

“So, when they feel threatened or pressured for whatever reason, they resorted to PAS, and they were sufficiently disgusted with Umno and the likes of PKR are seen and ‘Make America Great Again’ crowd rejects the Democrats,” he noted. 

According to Awang Azman, PN uses ethnic and religious sentiments to get support

On the hung Parliament scenario, he said the result depends on who GPS, Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS) and BN want to partner with, either PH or PN. 

Universiti Malaya political analyst Prof Dr Awang Azman Awang Pawi said the big win for PN is due to the Malay sentiment that was pervasive in GE15. 

“It seems that the Malay and Islamic sentiments are so strong for PN, and Umno must accept defeat this time. PN used ethnic and religious sentiments to get support,” Awang Azman told TMR. 

Therefore, the narrative used by PN without a doubt attracted Malaysian voters who are predominantly Malays and Muslims. 

Additionally, he noted that PN also utilised social media platforms to attract more voters to support the coalition. 

To resolve the hung Parliament situation, he opined that PN may offer some lucrative benefits to GPS, especially in terms of power. 

“So, PN is expected to work together with GPS and GRS in forming the federal government, while PH will also try to persuade GPS and BN to work together,” he added. 

Commenting on BN’s huge loss in GE15, the analyst claimed that the devastating defeat was due to internal problems between its candidates. 

Singapore Institute of International Affairs political analyst Dr Oh Ei Sun also did not expect PN to show a strong showing in GE15. 

His view based on GE15 result was the electorates were generally divided into two major camps — one for PH and the other conservative PN. 

Meanwhile, he expects PH to face an uphill struggle to join or form a ruling coalition. 

“They would do their utmost to make sure that PH — which they view as too reformist and liberal — a threat to their vested interest, is excluded, despite PH having won the most seats,” he told TMR. 

Oh expects PH to face an uphill struggle to join or form a ruling coalition

Centre for Market Education CEO Dr Carmelo Ferlito, on the other hand, said the unclear scenario in the country’s political scene may create a certain nervousness in the markets. 

“This will affect the currency and investors’ investment decision, at least until the government is formed,” Ferlito said. 

Meanwhile, he also expressed his concern about the country’s constancy of policies if a new coalition is to be formed post-GE15. 

“The points that I see are not a matter of a team majority, but the matter of a consistent majority. 

“To form a government majority with several different parties may compromise the consistency of policies.” 

Nonetheless, he hopes that the new government will have the strength to take bold and unpopular decisions to put Malaysia back on track, as 2023 is expected to see a high degree of volatility and uncertainty. 

Separately, the Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (Ideas) said the negotiations between the coalitions in forming the federal government are based on policy and not patronage-type appointments. 

Ideas CEO Dr Tricia Yeoh said in a coalition of coalitions, it is widely expected that Cabinet, government-linked companies (GLCs) chairs and statutory body positions will need to be provided as a form of reward to the most number of senior party representatives as possible. 

“Forming the coalition government is the most urgent over the next few delicate days, and we would caution against money politics being used in this process, where smaller parties must exercise wisdom in using their kingmaker position and power. 

“As such, Ideas encourages the parties to negotiate on the grounds of laws and policies that are crucially needed to address both economic and institutional reforms for the future,” she said in a statement.

  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition