PPBM – boon or bane for Pakatan Harapan?

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SHAH ALAM: Political analysts are at odds over whether PPBM will benefit or hurt the opposition coalition of Pakatan Harapan (PH) in the 14th general election (GE14).

Some say PPBM has been successful in attracting Malay voters, specifically those in the rural areas, where PH previously met with no success.

However, there are those who say PPBM’s dual-status membership where non-Bumiputeras may join the party but are not allowed to vote or stand for posts, may turn away those previously loyal to the coalition.

Speaking at a forum on PH and Barisan Nasional (BN) at Kumpulan Media Karangkraf here today, Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) lecturer Professor Azizuddin Mohd Sani, International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) lecturer Maszlee Malik, and Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) chief executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan discussed whether PPBM was a boon or a bane for PH.

Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) chief executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan
Institute for Democracy and Economic Affairs (IDEAS) chief executive Wan Saiful Wan Jan

Wan Saiful pointed out that in politics, it was important to separate the idealistic from the realistic. He said that it was often idealism that turned the majority of voters away.

“In PH’s case, what is ideal for many loyal PH supporters is to see the four component parties (Amanah, DAP, PKR and PPBM) equally powerful. In reality, however, this will only backfire for PH because the majority of Malays want a Malay-dominant party,” he said.

“It’s been decades and many Malays are still worried about this. All BN has to say is that DAP and PPBM are equal and PH will lose.”

Maszlee agreed with Wan Saiful but said PH had already taken heed of this when it decided on its latest leadership lineup while at the same time balancing the worries of its older supporters.

International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) lecturer Maszlee Malik
International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM) lecturer Maszlee Malik

“That’s why they put up older people, politicians the people knew and also didn’t put up as many Chinese.

“The lineup shows that they are aware that in order to please the Malays, they must put up Malays but, at the same time, they didn’t let go of their emphasis on multicultural politics.”

Earlier this month, PH announced its lineup of Anwar Ibrahim as its leader, and Dr Mahathir Mohamad as its chairman. Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail was named president, assisted by three deputies, Muhyiddin Yassin (PPBM), Lim Guan Eng (DAP) and Mohamad Sabu (Amanah).

PKR deputy president Azmin Ali and his PPBM counterpart Mukhriz Mahathir were named as vice-presidents, along with DAP’s Chong Chieng Jen and Amanah’s Salahuddin Ayub. Former deputy minister Saifuddin Abdullah was named chief secretary.

Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) lecturer Professor Azizuddin Mohd Sani
Universiti Utara Malaysia (UUM) lecturer Professor Azizuddin Mohd Sani

Professor Azizuddin Mohd Sani, however, said PPBM posed somewhat of a challenge to PH as it went against the coalition’s original concept of multiculturalism.

“PPBM has come into the fold with its dual status membership and this has posed a serious threat to the concept of multiculturalism.

“Previously, in Pakatan Rakyat, there was PAS. It was an Islamic party but it was not a Bumiputera party.”

Mahathir’s role as PH chairman was also something that did not go down well with those loyal to the 1998 “Reformasi” movement as well as some of PH’s non-Malay supporters.

Maszlee said however that PPBM had a very clear role to play in the coalition. Apart from “taking away some of the fear” from Malay voters, PPBM was also seen as one of the more approachable parties in the coalition as far as rural voters are concerned.

“If you take Amanah, for example, the word on the ground is that this is a good party made up of professionals. However, these professionals are also seen as elite and unapproachable.

“There are two parties that those in the rural areas feel a connection with: Umno and PPBM. That’s why we cannot deny PPBM’s role in PH.”

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