PETALING JAYA: Two MPs from Pakatan Harapan (PH) agree with the assessment by PPBM chief strategist Rais Hussin that the ruling coalition would face defeat if a general election were called now, saying PH has failed to keep its promises and to carry out fundamental reforms.
DAP’s Klang MP Charles Santiago said public confidence in the government has been on the ebb despite PH’s pledge to usher in a “new Malaysia”.
“We talk about the 2023 polls even though we haven’t fully realised our last manifesto,” he said, citing various flip-flops in policies and what he called a “PM transition that’s stuck in the mud”.
He also said there appears to be little focus on boosting the economy, especially in terms of helping small and medium enterprises.
“Basically, people feel that we are not delivering our promises, and that we are getting caught up in sideshows like Zakir Naik and the khat controversies.
“These sideshows are overtaking the national agenda because issues which should be prioritised are not dealt with,” he told FMT.
Rais had said at a forum yesterday that Umno and PAS would win “hands down” if an election were to be called now.
He said PH leaders had stopped listening to the people and that the coalition needed to take its manifesto seriously to gain public trust.
Santiago said urgent issues include bread-and-butter affairs such as wages, unemployment, inequality and the cost of living.
He warned that the middle class was becoming “tired” of PH and urged the coalition’s leaders to change while they could.
Noting that more young voters are expected to take part in the next polls, he said: “They will vote for those who protect their interests.”
However, he opined that the bulk of votes would go to a “third force” outside of PAS and Umno, if one were to emerge by the next general election.
PKR’s Subang MP Wong Chen likewise said PH was at risk of losing power but disagreed that PAS and Umno would easily take over.
He said the two opposition parties might wrest some seats from PH but questioned their ability to cooperate as a united force.
“An election tomorrow would most likely create a hung Parliament with no clear winners but a hell of a lot of horse-trading to form a government,” he told FMT.
He, too, spoke of PH’s failure to deliver “systematic and fundamental reforms” and what he called “self-inflicted problems”.
He said efforts to decentralise the prime minister’s powers, revive parliamentary independence and provide greater checks and balances would help Malaysia shift to a more democratic system.
“A more democratic system would drive economic growth and innovation which, in turn, will ensure that PH gets another term.”
Wong Chin Huat of the Jeffrey Cheah Institute on Southeast Asia agreed that PH might lose power but attributed the possibility to a drop in voter turnout rather than a swing in support towards the opposition.
He said if PH were to lose an election tomorrow, it would not be because PAS and Umno are offering a viable alternative.
“Many voters are too let down by politicians on both sides,” he added.
Noting the expected influx of new voters given the move to lower the voting age from 21 to 18, Wong said anything could happen.
As Malaysia practises the “first-past-the-post” system, he said, even small swings in votes could see a drastic shift in seats.
If this happens, he said, none of the PH component parties would be spared.
“Until two months ago, DAP might be. (But) today, DAP is as vulnerable as the others,” he said, citing the khat controversy as well as the stir over Lynas Corp.