KUALA LUMPUR: The future of Malaysian politics still depends on PAS, the Islamist party, even if Pakatan Harapan and Parti Pribumi Bersatu Malaysia choose to work together, said a political analyst.
Prof Jeniri Amir remarked that any opposition coalition without PAS would find it difficult to win rural votes.
“Rural areas have been safe deposit boxes for Umno to continue forming the government.
“They vote for BN as they are of the view that if they continue to vote BN, they will continue to get amenities and development.
“The Opposition can only grab enough seats if the rural people give them votes.
“If the situation is right, and if PAS joins hands with the Opposition pact, they can oust BN.
“It now all depends on how PAS plays its cards.
“If PAS works together with Pakatan and Amanah, the united force can influence rural areas,” he told FMT.
Jeniri was commenting on the meeting yesterday of former Opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim and his nemesis, Dr Mahathir Mohamad, in the witness room at the High Court here.
They shook hands and exchanged pleasantries.
Anwar was there to seek an injunction to stop the National Security Council (NSC) Act from being implemented.
Observers had stated that the meeting augured well for Mahathir’s proposed Bersatu to work with Pakatan in the next general election.
Jeniri said if PAS starts to work with the Opposition pact of Pakatan Harapan and Parti Perbumi Bersatu, BN will have to stand up and take notice.
“When these two political giants meet, BN has to buck up.”
Jeniri said the landmark handshake was a calculated move by Mahathir.
“For Mahathir to meet Anwar, it shows he is going all out to fulfil his agenda. And the best way to do that is align with Anwar or it will be impossible to oust BN.”
Ultimately, Mahathir has to portray to Malaysians that both of them can work together.
This is because for a man like Mahathir to shake hands with his former bitter foe was shocking and historical, Jeniri said.
In Sabah and Sarawak, he said, voters will continue to vote for BN because they are well represented by local parties like Parti Bersatu Sabah and Parti Pesaka Bumiputera Bersatu.
“The local parties deliver what the people want.”
For BN to stay afloat in the peninsula, Jeniri said the ministers have to seriously tackle national issues hovering around 1MDB, the RM2.6 billion donation that was channelled into the prime minister’s personal bank accounts and higher cost of living.
“These are the main issues for BN to deal with during the coming general election. BN ministers should not take these issues lightly.”
He said BN members were doing their best to explain the matter, but people were not convinced enough on the measures taken to reduce the cost of living and the handling of the 1MDB issue.
“BN is successful in rural and suburban areas where people are hoping for development.
”BN does a lot of ground work in rural areas by dealing with bread and butter issues among rural folks.”
Jeneri said if Mahathir’s Bersatu worked well with Pakatan Harapan and PAS by increasing their presence in rural areas before the general election, they could influence rural voters.