PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Harapan (PH) has refuted a recent study which concluded that PPBM would have a fighting chance if it contests in mixed-race seats, instead of focusing on Malay-majority seats won by Umno at the last polls.
The study by Wan Saiful Wan Jan, who heads Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS), said PPBM, formed on the back of allegations of corruption in Umno, will do well if it is given a share of mixed-race seats to contest at the next general election.
But Salahuddin Ayub, who leads PH’s election machinery in Johor, said as a party trying to attract Umno supporters in the Malay heartlands, it made sense to allow PPBM to stand in Malay-majority areas.
He compared PPBM’s origins to that of his own party Amanah, formed by former leaders of PAS.
“This is similar to how Amanah was formed to continue PAS’ 13th general election success, where it obtained the support of the non-Malays instead of its traditional Malay support base,” Salahuddin told FMT.
In his study, Wan Saiful said PPBM would have a fighting chance in Johor, long regarded a bastion of Umno, if the party is given a share of mixed-race seats.
He said PH’s reliance on PPBM to secure Malay-majority seats has created a dilemma for the party.
This, said Wan Saiful, was because Umno had won those seats with big majorities, and it’s unlikely there would be a huge swing of Malay support at the coming polls.
“The areas where they are expected to win are also the areas that are the hardest to win,” he said.
“Thus, even though PPBM seems to be taking the challenge and the responsibility in their stride, this is clearly one heavy burden for a fledgling party to shoulder,” he said in the study published by the ISEAS–Yusof Ishak Institute.
Salahuddin said PH was looking to PPBM to secure the Malay votes due to suspicions among some Malays over DAP.
He said although there had been a swing of Malay support for DAP at the last polls, “it was not enough”.
“If we can get as much support in Johor as we did with the Malays in Selangor, then Johor will be our home.
“That’s where PPBM is very important. Their role is to help PH get more seats, and PPBM, being an Umno splinter, can convince the Malays to support us.”
He said this was also why Amanah threw its support behind PPBM chairman Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who was named as PH’s candidate for prime minister.
“PPBM joining us is important, because it sends a message that the political figures from the party will make sure the Malay rights enshrined in the Federal Constitution will be protected.”
PH is allocating 10 of Johor’s 26 parliamentary seats to PPBM at the next general election, which must be held by middle of this year.
They are Pagoh, Mersing, Tenggara, Sri Gading, Pengerang, Pontian, Muar, Simpang Renggam, Kota Tinggi and Tanjung Piai.
Most of the seats are Umno strongholds in Malay-majority areas, including Felda settlements.
In 2013, Barisan Nasional won 21 parliamentary seats in Johor, 15 of which by Umno.